Clear Review has joined Advanced - Discover our full suite of powerful and innovative people management solutions

Find out more
Back to blog

How Continuous Performance Management Can Boost Employee Morale

Header for tough times article

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.

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 pro­duc­tiv­i­ty, per­for­mance and engagement?

Down­load our eBook on Max­i­miz­ing per­for­mance in the new nor­mal” which looks at the 5‑step pro­duc­tiv­i­ty mod­el. This mod­el is built on the key ele­ments of per­for­mance man­age­ment and employ­ee engagement.