Modern business is fast-paced, busy, agile — no two days are the same. In a matter of months, organisational priorities and challenges can experience radical change. It is for this reason that companies around the world continue to argue the merits of the traditional annual performance review. Meeting once a year for an employee performance catchup no longer seems effective or relevant in this climate. As a result, more and more companies are making the switch to continuous performance management.
Increasingly, organisations are prioritising ongoing communication between manager and employee, while doing away with numerical performance ratings and stack-ranking systems. It seems that regular performance and development discussions (or“check-ins”) are one of the performance management trends that are here to stay. Done right, they are an incredibly effective employee performance management tool that has the ability to elevate motivation, employee engagement and productivity while improving relationships between supervisor and employee.
Regular performance discussions and coaching sessions sound great in theory, but putting them into practice is something else altogether. Organisations frequently tell us that their managers lack the knowledge of how to conduct meaningful performance conversations. We’re here to help bridge that gap.
Below, we have laid out seven primary discussion points to cover during these meetings to ensure a structured, productive and worthwhile exchange.
1. Objectives and SMART Goals
Managers need to remain up-to-date with employee progress in terms of objectives and SMART goals. The more frequent the performance discussions between the supervisor and employee, the more relaxed, open and honest the employee will be with regards to goal progression and possible obstacles. This is because with increased communication comes familiarity and the sense that the manager is there to truly help, rather than to judge and evaluate.
It might be that the individual has hit a stumbling block and won’t be able to achieve their objectives on time. If this is the case, the manager should help the employee to consider options for overcoming these obstacles. Objectives may also need to be adapted as priorities change, so take the opportunity at each meeting to consider whether objectives are still relevant and productive.
2. Personal Development and Career Growth
Managers and employees should take some time to discuss personal and career development. Which skills, knowledge or strengths could be developed to successfully achieve objectives, to progress towards a career goal or to help the individual or the team perform more effectively?
Development is really important in terms of employee engagement. A focus on training and development has been known to boost morale and productivity while decreasing staff turnover. Every employee wants to know that their company truly cares about their future and is supporting their professional advancement. Organisations ignore personal development at their own cost, as 40% of employees who receive poor training will leave their company within the first year.
3. Give Employee Feedback
Feedback is a critical element of regular performance discussions. Managers should use this as an opportunity to discuss what has been going well and what has been causing problems. Deliver appreciation and recognition for achievements and, where things haven’t gone according to plan, consider what could be learned for next time. Always make the feedback as specific as possible and avoid hearsay, generalisations and personal comments.
It should be noted that feedback needs to be timely. This underlines the need to ensure that performance discussions and feedback are regular. Nobody wants to receive feedback on something that didn’t go well several months ago! The longer a manager sits on constructive feedback without acting on it, the more ingrained bad habits become within an employee and the harder it will be to turn things around.
The statistics on the beneficial effects of regular feedback are well-documented. According to one survey, nearly 60% of respondents would like feedback on a weekly basis. This number increased to 72% for employees under 30. While 75% claim they believe feedback is valuable, only 30% of employees claim to receive it. On top of this, nearly 70% of employees state they would work harder if their efforts were more recognised at work and companies who implement regular employee feedback see a 14.9% decrease in turnover rates.
Of course, feedback should go both ways. This is an opportunity not only for managers to deliver feedback but for employees to give their supervisors feedback on existing workplace processes and how they might be improved upon — this is the best way for a company to progress, advance and strengthen.
4. Employee Issues and Concerns
If the employee has any issues or concerns, now is the perfect time to raise them. They have their manager’s full attention and they know they have someone to work with them to arrive at a solution. Equally, if the manager has any problems they wish to discuss, this private setting is the ideal environment in which to raise them. Decide on specific actions that need to be taken, and set a time frame to follow-up and put them into action.
5. Are Employee Skills and Strengths Being Utilised?
Each employee has unique skills and strengths to bring to the table. According to a Gallup poll, employees who can use their strengths perform better, are less likely to leave and are more engaged overall. Discuss whether or not the employee’s specific skills and strengths are being utilised on a day-to-day basis. If not, explore how their goals or job description could be adapted to better play to their strengths.
6. Personal, Team and Organisational Priorities
Take the opportunity to discuss team or organisational priorities for the coming weeks and what this means for the employee’s personal priorities or goals. If there has been a change in focus or direction, the employee’s objectives may need to be re-prioritised or new objectives added.
7. Managerial Help and Support
Employees need to know that management is there to help and support them in any way they can, which makes the issue of managerial support a key discussion point. Is there anything the employee needs from their manager in the coming weeks? This may be anything from dealing with an internal office conflict to organising maternity leave. Use this opportunity to draw up a plan of how the manager can help. Managers should also schedule follow-up discussions to ensure the employee’s needs are being met.
How Can You Ensure These Items Are Regularly Discussed?
Employees and managers need to be provided with a clear structure for performance and development discussions to ensure that these discussion points are covered in detail. We’ve come up with a really effective way of doing this via our Clear Review performance management software. It’s purpose built to ensure that regular performance discussions take place, that they are meaningful and that action points are captured and followed up.
Clear Review performance management software has been used by more than 160 organisations to facilitate and encourage regular coaching conversations and improve communication levels. To join the movement and to find out what we can do for you, book a free performance management software demo today.