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Creating Breakthrough Performance Management model for your Agile Organization

Performance management has several objectives out of which employee development is one major objective. Performance management seeks to provide employees and their teams with constructive feedback to make employees better at what they do in their current roles or for their future roles. Performance management gives employees and their teams a sense of direction in terms of guiding them on what is expected out of them.  

Performance management becomes a platform for employee recognition where employees are recognized for their accomplishments and appreciated for their hard work. Pay is not a crucial element in performance management although performance management can assist in terms of giving inputs to determine the right pay levels for employees. When performance management is carried out effectively, it increases employee engagement and performance productivity of employees, teams and the organization at large. 

However, in the recent past, the performance management process has somewhat been associated with a negative connotation. The traditional performance management process, still used by many companies these days, has some negative consequences. Since traditional performance management is grounded upon annual performance reviews, the process is usually slow. It is restricted to a top-down approach where the manager is the only person who gives feedback to his employees during the appraisal cycle. 

As a result, the process is often too much dependent upon managers who are either too paternalistic in a way that they feel that they are the leaders, therefore employees should follow what they are saying, or they are managers with poor feedback skills. Sometimes, it is only about what the organization wants to see in its employees and rate the employees based on those parameters. Traditional performance management processes are often very complex and not very actionable in terms of focusing only on the pay and not on employee development. 

However, it is also very fascinating to observe, how some organizations have transformed their outlook towards performance management shifting to a more agile approach. These organizations emphasize the importance of frequent feedback and they have leveraged various performance management tools such as Synergita, to share their feedback. Instead of a top down approach, companies have adopted the 360-degree feedback or the multi-rater feedback as a mainstream process.  

Companies have moved away from a purely rating based appraisal cycle to a more constructive process where good conversations are encouraged. Feedback has become more constructive in terms of focusing more on how to appreciate employees for the work that they do at the same time trying to improve their weaknesses. Therefore, feedback given to employees is given with a human touch despite adopting technologies to automate the whole process for us.  

Therefore, what are some of the various ways through which we can design a performance management process for agile organizations: 

Rethinking the objectives of performance management itself: Development 

As we have discussed in the very beginning of the article, employee development is one of the key objectives that we need to focus on. Employee recognition is also an important process that we need to focus on when we speak of development, and it does take up much of your time and resources. Goal setting must be such that it does not only confined to the objectives of the organization alone, it must be tied to the developmental goals of employees. 

Team collaboration 

When we speak of performance management, why do we want confine everything to a uniform organization-wide process. Let teams be assigned different responsibilities and figure out a way to learn from each other. In such an approach, employees would learn from each other more. 

Employees being the center of attention 

Why should companies only think about themselves? Why is everything confined to only to reaching the goals of the organization? For once, we need to design performance management processes in such a way taking into consideration the requirements of the employees. A process that unifies and meets all their differing needs. 

Continuous feedback: how continuous should it be? 

By continuous feedback, I mean we need to create a more collaborative positive feedback culture, where peer-recognition is encouraged. Employees are appreciated instantly for their good work or for fulfilling their goals effectively. Continuous feedback must aim towards increasing employee engagement, employee morale and performance productivity.  

Help your employees become better 

Feedback that we give must not just be continuous appreciation towards goals. Feedback must be development-focused and specific. It should aim at improving the skills of the employees and hone the skills of employees who are already top performers. 

Takeaway 

One of the hallmarks of an agile performance management system for an agile organization is to be less dependent upon human efforts to carry out performance appraisals. Therefore, we need to adopt to a more agile performance management system to help us gather and interpret data about an employee’s performance, to assist managers as well as other employees to provide better feedback. 

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