Human resources leaders today face pressing issues when it comes to balancing organisational priorities with what they need to successfully lead and support their workforce. Bersin by Deloitte’s 2017 predictions for HR notes that organisational design will be challenged and more focus will be put on “human performance”. In addition, Bersin by Deloitte’s predictions highlight that employee well-being will become a critical part of HR, talent and leadership. This represents a shift in the employer-employee relationship. It’s about understanding employee expectations and balancing those expectations from the employer perspective.
It’s not yet clear what this means for businesses across the world, but what we do know is organisations need to be proactive, flexible and innovative to better meet the needs of its employees. In order to do this, business leaders need to consider a shift from the traditional organisational mindset of “What can we get out of our employees?” to a one of “How can we help our employees succeed, so in turn our company can achieve its goals?”
At the heart of this mindset shift is great leadership – an area that businesses can’t afford not to pay attention to. And the key to improving how we support employee performance lies with leaders.
The CIPD Employee Outlook Autumn 2016 report found organisations can indeed improve coaching and feedback for employees, as well as learning and development and career progression. We all know that typical talent practices have gone under scrutiny over the past few years and with good reason – the needs of employees just aren’t being met.
Using Performance Management to Engage
So how can your organisation use performance management to engage, develop and inspire your employees? Here are five tips:
1. Develop Great Leaders
A 2014 Towers Watson poll found that when leaders were seen as effective, 72 percent of employees were highly engaged. Great leaders inspire their people by taking the time to understand what motivates them. They also drive business and personal growth by creating an environment where people feel comfortable enough to experiment, communicate and support one another.
But most people aren’t born great leaders; they need training and ongoing support themselves to effectively lead a team. Organisations can help by providing leaders with the tools, coaching and support they need to build relationships with their team members and nurture employee development.
2. Encourage Leaders to Hold Regular Check-ins With Employees
A 2016 McKinsey report found that many companies like GE and Adobe are working on holding more frequent discussions on performance as well as forward-focused coaching rather than backwards-looking ratings and rankings. The best way for leaders to get to know their employees is through ongoing conversations. This approach builds greater trust and allows for honest and effective discussions about what’s happening in the lives of employees in and out of the workplace. The context of employee performance matters just as much as the conversation about it.
By creating an environment that supports regular conversations, leaders open themselves up to creating a better relationship with their team and each team member and are better able to manage, correct and encourage performance in time for immediate effect.
3. Build a Feedback and Recognition-Rich Culture
Everyone likes to know if they’re doing a good job – and if feedback is given thoughtfully, they also appreciate ideas on how they could do better. According to a SHRM study, 55 percent of employees felt that recognition from their manager about their performance was very important to job satisfaction. By giving and receiving continuous feedback, employees know which behaviours are working for them and which ones that aren’t.
Provide leaders with access to tips and techniques for giving and receiving feedback and recognition that best suits the individual communication and personality style of each employee. Personalising communication is important because the impact can be much greater for employees.
4. Establish a Culture of Forward-Focused Growth and Development
In a 2016 Accenture study, 80 percent of new grads expect their first employer to give them formal training, but in reality only 54 percent of graduates received any training from their first employer. Employers can improve job satisfaction as well as attract and hold on to top talent by providing employees with the time they need to develop their skills.
Educating leaders about the importance of creating space for employee to pursue development opportunities can help their people build critical skills and retention. Helping employees succeed and get better at what they do or acquire skills for future responsibilities helps organisations build loyalty and stay competitive in turn.
5. Make Work Meaningful
When employees can see how their work contributes to the organisation’s success, they’re more engaged and motivated to do great work. Yet according to the CIPD, nearly 30 percent of employees feel they get a limited amount of information about their organisation’s strategy.
Leaders can help inspire employees by aligning an individual’s goals with the company’s overall objectives and clearly communicating their strategy to all employees, so they know how their work contributes to organisational success. Leaders can then position themselves to better address the needs of their workforce by connecting performance management to day-to-day business activities.
Small Changes, Big Results
For employees, engagement is about a feeling and a connection to the organisation, and feeling that their contribution is valued. By investing in leadership development, specifically how leaders can impact and support the individual needs of employees, organisations can play a key role to help improve job satisfaction and engagement.
Educating leaders and employees on the value of how to give and receive coaching and feedback, and how employee performance can be supported on a day-to-day basis, may very well be small tweaks to how you’re already managing performance. If not, these changes to your talent strategy have the potential to make a big difference to your workforce and your bottom line.
Think about what it would mean for your organisation if the majority of employees all came to work feeling good about what they’re doing. When organisations think like people – not like a business – the true impact of engagement can have a lasting impression.
Dominique Jones, Chief People Officer, Halogen Software
She provides practical insights that help businesses tap into individuals’ strengths to build great teams that achieve their goals.