How Leaders Can Rethink Employee Growth and Performance

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By Marc LeCuyer

As businesses settle into hybrid working models, many individuals are raising concerns that remote workers could be left behind in promotions and pay. While most of us are familiar with employee reviews, today’s reality includes an ongoing war for top talent, the growing Great Resignation trend and new expectations on employee experiences. All of this demonstrates that organizations need to go well beyond one-time conversations between an employee and manager and strive for greater connection.

Through processes aimed at supporting an employee’s long-term growth and ability to perform their job effectively, performance management focuses on building continuous two-way communication. As employees aim for ongoing self-improvement in both constructive and meaningful ways, the end goal is to develop a system that spans across their entire tenure within the company.

Today’s performance management systems support leaders as they seek to provide positive learning opportunities for employees, but they don’t include every interaction between an employee and manager or the ability for managers to personalize plans based on individual employee needs. Organizations can take performance management one step further with systems that enable development and learning at the moment an employee needs help, not months later. And these tools need to be able to support employees on their unique journey – there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to employee growth, and technology should support personalized learning and development, while also aligning with a company’s value and culture.

Common elements of performance management include skills assessments, goal setting, company culture and values, training and education, and much more. Employers need to move beyond the mindset of organizing single, one-time reviews, surveys or self-evaluations, and instead work to execute larger-scale, process-driven efforts with various actions and supporting resources that are delivered in the moment of need.

Guiding employee efforts through a unified system

To set their teams up for success, business leaders should gain a clear sense and understanding of what their employees’ goals, interests and career paths are, ensuring time and energy is put toward the kind of higher value work that matters most. Establishing clearly defined roles and responsibilities taking each person’s strengths and weaknesses into account allows teams to communicate openly, reward exceptional behavior and promote innovation. This enhances overall support and feedback among both individuals and their collective teams.

By understanding an employee’s goals and interests, managers/leaders can create personalized plans that complement their journey. Organizations can also deliver learning directly to employees at the moment they need it, in the tools they’re already using.  AI can also be used to detect patterns in employee behavior and deliver tailored learnings based on this behavior. 

Optimizing the ongoing employee experience is important for leaders to ensure their efforts deliver across all workplace benefits. This encourages employees to reach their full potential, ultimately leading to increased productivity and revenue. By striving to engage employees, retain top talent and develop internal leadership, performance management systems ensure leaders dedicate their efforts to proactively address key issues and problems that their teams commonly face.

Rethinking performance management for today’s workforce 

Although performance management is an ongoing process, it is important that teams think of it as a cycle rather than a specific sequence of ordered steps, and one that constantly repeats itself through ongoing discussions. This usually begins with a planning session to set organizational and employee expectations, ensuring alignment on future results and actions moving forward.

A collaborative effort between the employee and company will allow both parties to develop personal development plans with clear expectations top of mind. By tracking and monitoring employee progress along the way and providing relevant support as needed, management can work to identify problems and make course corrections quickly, rather than waiting until issues become more difficult to manage.

Bringing employees and management together to plan ahead

During the final stages of the performance management cycle, employees and managers should come together in more formalized settings, including quarterly or yearly performance review meetings, to discuss goal progress, assess training and development opportunities, review achievements, explore potential for future advancement and evaluate overall performance.

Instead of defaulting to a yearly performance review for this conversation to take place, these discussions can be scheduled regularly and streamlined through technology. Finding new and innovative ways to evaluate employee performance, provide feedback and promote growth helps leader to set themselves apart and reimagine the way they think about and prioritize their employees within our new world of work.

Marc LeCuyer is the Vice President and General Manager at ServiceNow Canada. The company’s cloud-based platform and solutions deliver digital workflows that create great experiences and unlock productivity for employees and the enterprise.

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