Performance management is the process of a manager and direct report aligning on a set of goals, as well as how the employee should be measured against those targets. As such, it’s critical that a person’s goals be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely) and that the manager and employee meet regularly – quarterly, every six months, or annually – to determine how effective the person has been at reaching the agreed-upon goals. It's also important that, when goals have not been met, both the manager and employee agree on what changes need to be made to improve performance.
Along with regular meetings and agreements on goal setting and adjustments, employees and managers should review and agree on specific tactics that should be taken in order to achieve each goal. It helps when goals clearly ladder up to larger corporate objectives so people understand what they’re working toward and why.
Perhaps the most important element of the performance management process is the review, at which time an employee is assessed against their goals. It’s critical that brief assessments occur at regular times throughout the year, with a full employee review taking place after 12 months’ time. Along with a measurable assessment, other factors should come into consideration as well, such as agility, creativity, and collegiality.
Another key element of the performance management process is to set new objectives for the future after the year-end review is complete. As with the previous year’s goals, the new set of objectives should be SMART.
Technology is essential to the performance management process in three key ways: transparency, efficiency, and equity. It’s also scalable and flexible over the long term. That is, as the organization’s broader objectives evolve over time, a technology-based performance management process can evolve with it. Technology also allows for malleability, meaning that the framework for performance management in the IT and marketing divisions might be the same, but the metrics and types of goals assessed might be different. A technology-based performance management process allows organizations to meet the needs of individuals and functions alike, all while maintaining those key elements of transparency, efficiency, and equity along the way.
- Transparency: When the performance management process is supported by technology, it’s clear to all stakeholders – from the individual up to the CEO – who is responsible for achieving which goals and by when. This not only eliminates ambiguity but also protects the organization against liability since what’s being assessed is clearly defined for all to see.
- Efficiency: With technology powering the process, performance management runs more smoothly and quickly. Administrative hiccups are eliminated and assessments occur in a timely, thorough fashion. Moreover, managers needn’t dig through their e-mails for information to complete the process. All the performance-management inputs are saved in one place for easy access and quick reference. Companies can also leverage technologies like automation and machine learning to support compliance and minimize repetitive aspects of the performance management process.
- Equity: When technology powers the performance management process, it is far more likely to be fair. In other words, different people in different places performing similar roles will be assessed in the same manner and according to the same sets of metrics. The more equitable the performance management process is, the more the organization feels like a meritocracy – and the kind of place where people can enjoy long careers.
A performance management system tracks the performance of employees in a manner that is consistent and measurable. The system relies on a combination of technologies and methodologies to ensure people across the organization are aligned with – and contributing to – the strategic objectives of the business.
A continuous framework to performance management is about using performance technology to set and track goals in an open and efficient way in real time and to support ongoing coaching, feedback, and alignment as priorities shift over time. Learn more about this performance management strategy.