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Continuous Performance Management: Common Questions and Concerns

Continuous performance management image.

Even if you’re ready to take the plunge into agile per­for­mance man­age­ment, you’ll more than like­ly have some ques­tions. In this blog post, we’ll give you the answers to our con­tin­u­ous per­for­mance man­age­ment FAQs.

At Clear Review, we’ve writ­ten a num­ber of arti­cles and blog posts about the many ben­e­fits of con­tin­u­ous per­for­mance man­age­ment and why busi­ness­es are choos­ing to shift to an agiler per­for­mance man­age­ment approach.

Hope­ful­ly, you are already con­vinced of the busi­ness ben­e­fits of reg­u­lar per­for­mance dis­cus­sions and are open to shak­ing up the stages of your per­for­mance man­age­ment cycle. But you may still have con­cerns and ques­tions you want to explore before tak­ing action.

Below, we’ll cov­er issues such as whether you can still use rat­ings in con­junc­tion with con­tin­u­ous per­for­mance man­age­ment and how to get employ­ees and man­agers on board with this new approach. We’ll also dis­cuss how mod­ern per­for­mance man­age­ment soft­ware can help you tran­si­tion and strength­en your HR processes.

Are per­for­mance rat­ings and con­tin­u­ous per­for­mance man­age­ment incompatible?

If you’re up to date on the lat­est per­for­mance man­age­ment trends, you’ll be aware that per­for­mance rat­ings are plum­met­ing in pop­u­lar­i­ty. The debate on whether or not to use per­for­mance rat­ings has been rag­ing for a num­ber of years. Crit­ics say they are sub­jec­tive, demo­ti­vat­ing and cre­ate a fight or flight response in employ­ees, there­by neg­a­tive­ly impact­ing per­for­mance. Fur­ther­more, there is lit­tle evi­dence that high rat­ings cor­re­late with good per­for­mance. On the oth­er hand, many com­pa­nies still favour them as a con­ve­nient way of allo­cat­ing bonus­es and per­for­mance-relat­ed pay.

Although many organ­i­sa­tions who have adopt­ed con­tin­u­ous per­for­mance man­age­ment have also got rid of rat­ings with great suc­cess (GE, Microsoft etc.), it is pos­si­ble to use per­for­mance rat­ings along­side a con­tin­u­ous per­for­mance man­age­ment approach that is devel­op­men­tal and focus­es on qual­i­ty feedback.

The key to get­ting this right is ensur­ing that per­for­mance rat­ings are decou­pled’ from the reg­u­lar per­for­mance dis­cus­sions and are col­lat­ed via a sep­a­rate process. Hon­est, devel­op­men­tal con­ver­sa­tions do not mix well with assess­ments and rat­ings. This is one of the rea­sons why tra­di­tion­al annu­al appraisals are not effec­tive dri­vers of per­for­mance and engage­ment as they attempt to do both, and fail.

In sum­ma­ry, although per­for­mance rat­ings are flawed in many ways, if you feel that they are nec­es­sary for your organ­i­sa­tion, it’s worth not­ing that rat­ings are more objec­tive when used in tan­dem with con­tin­u­ous per­for­mance man­age­ment, as the rat­ings are based on a num­ber of mean­ing­ful dis­cus­sions and feed­back col­lat­ed through­out the year, rather than on a sin­gle meet­ing which is sus­cep­ti­ble to many forms of bias.

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How can my com­pa­ny man­age pay and pro­mo­tion deci­sions using con­tin­u­ous per­for­mance management?

At Clear Review, we’ve come up with a sim­ple but effec­tive tool for man­ag­ing pay deci­sions along­side con­tin­u­ous per­for­mance man­age­ment. Our per­for­mance review soft­ware has a fea­ture called View­points which enables HR to col­late and analyse the views of man­agers about their team mem­bers’ per­for­mance and poten­tial using either rat­ings or tar­get­ed ques­tions (a tech­nique pre­ferred by Deloitte).

As rec­om­mend­ed by the Char­tered Insti­tute of Per­son­nel and Devel­op­ment (CIPD) in their 2016 per­for­mance man­age­ment research report, the View­points process is kept sep­a­rate from the check-in dis­cus­sions and con­tin­u­ous feed­back that take place through­out the year. Typ­i­cal­ly our cus­tomers car­ry out a View­points round either annu­al­ly, bi-annu­al­ly, or quar­ter­ly, depend­ing on their pay and pro­mo­tion cycle.

Sep­a­rat­ing pay per­for­mance in this way means that the reg­u­lar per­for­mance dis­cus­sions are more hon­est and open, as employ­ees don’t feel they are being judged at every turn. Yet it still allows organ­i­sa­tions to make informed deci­sions about pay, bonus­es and who is ready for promotion.

How will my man­agers have time for reg­u­lar per­for­mance discussions?

If it’s hard enough get­ting your man­agers to find the time to com­plete their annu­al per­for­mance reviews, then how can a busi­ness pos­si­bly man­age to incor­po­rate mul­ti­ple reviews through­out the year? This is a valid ques­tion, but in our expe­ri­ence with numer­ous organ­i­sa­tions, hav­ing reg­u­lar check-ins through­out the year actu­al­ly, takes no more time than an annu­al appraisal (espe­cial­ly if you take into account the time tak­en by cal­i­bra­tion meet­ings that often fol­low annu­al appraisals).

A well-struc­tured check-in meet­ing can be done in around 15 – 20 min­utes and is more infor­mal in nature, so every­one involved is gen­er­al­ly more accept­ing of this form of review than they are annu­al appraisals.

HR should also note that with this sys­tem, bureau­cra­cy and form-fill­ing should be kept to an absolute min­i­mum. The process should be as straight­for­ward as pos­si­ble for employ­ees and man­agers, which is why the inclu­sion of pur­pose-built per­for­mance man­age­ment soft­ware can stream­line the whole process and make every­thing more efficient.

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Do I need per­for­mance review soft­ware to make con­tin­u­ous per­for­mance man­age­ment work?

A very small com­pa­ny can prob­a­bly make con­tin­u­ous per­for­mance man­age­ment work with­out soft­ware. How­ev­er, for most organ­i­sa­tions, you won’t be able to suc­cess­ful­ly adopt­ed a con­tin­u­ous per­for­mance man­age­ment cul­ture with­out using per­for­mance review soft­ware that has been designed specif­i­cal­ly for this approach.

You might think that we are biased, but we’ve had numer­ous organ­i­sa­tions come to us who have tried to move to con­tin­u­ous reviews and feed­back with­out soft­ware and failed. The prob­lems they encoun­tered included:

  • Not know­ing whether or not man­agers were hav­ing reg­u­lar con­ver­sa­tions with their staff
  • Where con­ver­sa­tions took place, they lacked struc­ture and employ­ees had a wide diver­gence of experience
  • Not being able to analyse data to feed into pay and pro­mo­tion decisions
  • Hav­ing no audit trail of dis­cus­sions and notes about under-performance
  • Feed­back was giv­en ver­bal­ly and via emails, so it was dif­fi­cult for man­agers to under­stand their employ­ees’ strengths and areas for development

Pur­pose built soft­ware such as Clear Review solves all of these prob­lems and makes for a much more engag­ing expe­ri­ence for staff, par­tic­u­lar­ly mil­len­ni­als who expect their work tools to be real-time and digital.

If you’re tran­si­tion­ing to a more mod­ern, con­tin­u­ous approach to per­for­mance man­age­ment, our team at Clear Review are hap­py to help. Get in touch with us today to book a free per­for­mance man­age­ment demo and see Clear Review in action.