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How continuous performance management can boost employee morale during tough times

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Per­for­mance man­age­ment shouldn’t stop when busi­ness­es face tough times. Amidst the pan­dem­ic, many orga­ni­za­tions are hav­ing imme­di­ate con­cerns on how to cope finan­cial­ly. Poten­tial cus­tomers may be can­celling meet­ings. Impor­tant cam­paigns may need to be pushed back; inter­na­tion­al expan­sions put on hold; cru­cial con­fer­ences post­poned, or sup­ply chains dis­rupt­ed. For many of us, thoughts are already turn­ing to how we do more with less. Should we scale back invest­ment? Freeze hir­ing? Per­haps even downsize?

If it does come to that, the fall­out will be hard. Redun­dan­cy can be as tough for the peo­ple who stay as those who leave. So-called sur­vivor guilt can take its toll. At the moment when you need your high­est per­form­ers to con­tin­ue being your high­est per­form­ers, they may find their focus frag­ment­ing and their resilience shat­tered by the emo­tion­al tur­moil. It’s at times like this that per­for­mance man­age­ment real­ly proves its val­ue. Here’s how. 

Goals can help you focus on what matters

Goal-set­ting is a cru­cial part of the per­for­mance man­age­ment process. Dur­ing a time where employ­ees are being laid off or fur­loughed, employ­ees that are left behind may feel a loss of pur­pose and morale. Refo­cus­ing on goals and set­ting clear ones that align to an organ­i­sa­tion can help give employ­ees a sense of pur­pose by show­ing them how their hard work will take the com­pa­ny fur­ther. Set­ting per­son­al devel­op­ment goals is anoth­er ele­ment of per­for­mance man­age­ment which can help your employ­ees grow and equip them with the skills and tal­ent the orga­ni­za­tion requires. 

There are many and var­ied ways of set­ting clear goals — from set­ting indi­vid­ual objec­tives, to col­lab­o­ra­tive goals to OKRs and beyond. Goals — as well as being clear and assess­able — need to be aligned so that the ben­e­fit and con­tri­bu­tion to the wider orga­ni­za­tion is clear, and aspi­ra­tional to help encour­age peo­ple to excel. Goals should also iden­ti­fy whether they are shared team goals or require col­lab­o­ra­tion with oth­ers. The process should also keep goals agile (to cater for our rapid­ly chang­ing world). Here at Clear Review we call our goals Pri­or­i­ties”: when you’re incred­i­bly busy, they help you to under­stand the things that you absolute­ly need to focus on.

Know who your high per­form­ers are

Know­ing who your high per­form­ers are is essen­tial for man­ag­ing tal­ent. At times of uncer­tain­ty and when there are major changes in the organ­i­sa­tions, it’s impor­tant to know what tal­ent you have and how you can help your employ­ees per­form bet­ter with the right train­ing and devel­op­ment plans. Focus­ing on employ­ee devel­op­ment means per­for­mance in the organ­i­sa­tion can improve. It shows your employ­ees that you are invest­ed in their devel­op­ment and their career aspi­ra­tions and helps employ­ees feel like they are val­ued mem­bers of the organ­i­sa­tion — not just anoth­er replace­able cog in the machine. 

Doing per­for­mance man­age­ment in a con­tin­u­ous way can help you get the infor­ma­tion you need to under­stand your tal­ent. The clos­er man­agers are to their employ­ees, the clear­er the per­for­mance pic­ture will become. Mak­ing sure that you hold reg­u­lar check-ins, and are avail­able to sup­port and advise your team mem­bers, will give you a clear pic­ture of their capa­bil­i­ties and poten­tial for devel­op­ment. With­in the Clear Review sys­tem for exam­ple, Tal­ent Snap­shots helps man­agers make more objec­tive pay, pro­mo­tion and suc­ces­sion plan­ning deci­sions by assess­ing high per­form­ers based on fact rather than opinion.

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Check­ing in with your employees

What­ev­er your plan for cop­ing with uncer­tain­ty, remem­ber that it has a human impact as well as a com­mer­cial one. If noth­ing else, your team will be con­cerned for friends and fam­i­ly. And if the worst comes to the worst and you are forced to make hard deci­sions about your peo­ple, remem­ber that those who stay need sup­port too. Stress, anx­i­ety and depres­sion are increas­ing­ly com­mon and have a direct impact on per­for­mance. Com­pa­nies that put mea­sures in place through per­for­mance man­age­ment sys­tems to have more check-ins and have con­ver­sa­tions on well­be­ing are more pro­duc­tive. They ben­e­fit from employ­ees, who feel they mat­ter to the com­pa­ny and are of value.

A 2019 YouGov poll found that around a third of employ­ees want­ed the oppor­tu­ni­ty to dis­cuss their well­be­ing in a check-in. This is some­thing man­agers can get ahead of sim­ply by adding a ques­tion or two to the usu­al check-in con­ver­sa­tion. We often say that these con­ver­sa­tions can be a time to step back from the busi­ness-as-usu­al top­ics and talk in more gen­er­al terms about well­be­ing, work­load and resources. Sim­ply ask­ing Do you have every­thing you need?” and How are you feel­ing?” can go a long way to reas­sure people.

Improv­ing employ­ee engagement

Employ­ee engage­ment is cru­cial in boost­ing per­for­mance. In a recent eBook, we dis­cuss how employ­ee engage­ment and per­for­mance go hand in hand and how engaged employ­ees help pow­er per­for­mance. When every­one is going through a tough time, there will be times where employ­ee morale is low. There will be feel­ings of uncer­tain­ty and iso­la­tion, which is why it’s impor­tant that we pay atten­tion to employ­ee engage­ment. Are employ­ees engaged in their work while they are work­ing from home? Are they being sup­port­ed by the rest of the team? If they feel more engaged in group projects, are they doing enough of those whilst work­ing remote­ly? A good way to start mea­sur­ing how engaged your employ­ees are is by doing sur­veys to check the sta­tus of your employ­ees. This will help you give real data and help you under­stand where the prob­lem may lie, and how you can improve it.

Man­agers should be on the look­out for obsta­cles and block­ers that can stop peo­ple get­ting through their task list and breed­ing dis­il­lu­sion­ment. We’re bet­ter able to work remote­ly than we’ve ever been, but we must stay focused on employ­ee morale and per­for­mance of our peo­ple. What­ev­er deci­sions we need to make in the com­ing months, we need to be informed so we can do the absolute best for our organizations.

Want to learn more about boost­ing per­for­mance and engagement?

To find out how Clear Review can help boost per­for­mance, increase engage­ment and sup­port your employ­ees, try it out with a free three month trial!

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