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How to Improve Employee Engagement Using Performance Management Software

Laptop keyboard with a blue key 'Engage'

Improv­ing employ­ee engage­ment is one of the key ingre­di­ents for achiev­ing high per­for­mance. Research shows that high­ly engaged employ­ees per­form 20% bet­ter and that those organ­i­sa­tions with the most engaged employ­ees are, on aver­age, 22% more prof­itable. There­fore, it makes sense that we should design our per­for­mance man­age­ment soft­ware to improve employ­ee engage­ment as much as possible.

To learn how to improve employ­ee engage­ment, we first need to under­stand what it is and what leads your staff to become engaged. There are many dif­fer­ent the­o­ries and mod­els about employ­ee engage­ment and per­for­mance. But our pre­ferred one is that put for­ward by the entre­pre­neur and busi­ness writer Kevin Kruse, as it’s aimed at man­agers on the front line of per­for­mance man­age­ment. Kruse defines employ­ee engage­ment as:

The emo­tion­al com­mit­ment an employ­ee has to the orga­ni­sa­tion and its goals.”

His con­clu­sion from analysing exist­ing research on employ­ee engage­ment is that you can boil it down to four key components:

  • Com­mu­ni­ca­tion

  • Growth and development

  • Recog­ni­tion and appreciation

  • Trust and confidence.

Let’s take each of these in turn and con­sid­er how per­for­mance man­age­ment process­es can be designed to max­imise them.

How to Improve Employ­ee Engage­ment: Communication

Kruse: There should be fre­quent, con­sis­tent two-way communication.

Reg­u­lar one-to-ones are the best way to achieve two-way com­mu­ni­ca­tion with­in a per­for­mance man­age­ment con­text. Kruse advo­cates that line man­agers should meet with each of their team mem­bers for a 15 – 30-minute catch up week­ly. Deloitte has recent­ly adopt­ed this approach, and its man­agers are expect­ed to have week­ly​”check-ins” with each of their staff. The key to suc­cess here is ensur­ing that the dis­cus­sions are two-way rather than the man­ag­er sim­ply dic­tat­ing pri­or­i­ties. Pro­vid­ing employ­ees and man­agers with a sug­gest­ed agen­da for these meet­ings can help in this respect.

How to Improve Employ­ee Engage­ment: Growth and Development

Kruse: Team mem­bers should feel like they are learn­ing new things and advanc­ing their career.

Growth and devel­op­ment can be achieved through man­agers and employ­ees spend­ing ded­i­cat­ed time dis­cussing career goals and build­ing a per­son­al devel­op­ment plan that will help to build the nec­es­sary knowl­edge, skills and behav­iours to achieve those goals. Many organ­i­sa­tions do this once a year as part of their annu­al per­for­mance appraisal, but Kruse sug­gests it should be done twice a year to max­imise employ­ee engage­ment and performance.

Either way, it is impor­tant that progress against per­son­al devel­op­ment plans is reg­u­lar­ly reviewed through­out the year rather than it being put away in a draw until the fol­low­ing year. Our per­for­mance man­age­ment sys­tem helps with this by show­ing employ­ees’ per­son­al devel­op­ment goals along­side their per­for­mance objec­tives to ensure that they are giv­en suf­fi­cient vis­i­bil­i­ty and attention.

How to Improve Employ­ee Engage­ment: Recog­ni­tion and Appreciation

Kruse: Team mem­bers need to feel appre­ci­at­ed and that their ideas count.

Fre­quent feed­back is essen­tial for improv­ing employ­ee engage­ment. Your per­for­mance man­age­ment process­es should incor­po­rate ongo­ing, reg­u­lar feed­back, at least every fort­night, rather than man­agers sav­ing up feed­back for for­mal reviews or rely­ing on year­ly 360-degree feed­back processes. 

Of course, recog­ni­tion and appre­ci­a­tion are about giv­ing pos­i­tive feed­back and say­ing thank you. So man­agers should be encour­aged to give the right bal­ance of pos­i­tive to con­struc­tive feed­back — research sug­gests a ratio of 3:1 is about right. For pos­i­tive feed­back to be mean­ing­ful, the per­son giv­ing the feed­back should explain the impact the action or achieve­ment had upon them per­son­al­ly or on the team or organ­i­sa­tion. Kruse adds that say­ing thank you to a per­son in front of oth­ers (e.g. in a team meet­ing) will mag­ni­fy its impact.

How to Improve Employ­ee Engage­ment: Trust and Confidence

Kruse: Team mem­bers need to trust the lead­er­ship and have con­fi­dence in the organisation’s future.

It might seem to be out­side of the scope of per­for­mance man­age­ment, but an impor­tant aspect of build­ing this trust and con­fi­dence is open­ly shar­ing the organ­i­sa­tion’s plans and goals for the forth­com­ing peri­od and the longer term. For this to have an impact, the organ­i­sa­tion­al goals need to be com­mu­ni­cat­ed in a lan­guage that employ­ees can relate to and under­stand. To engage your employ­ees and get them to relate to those goals, ask them to come up with their own objec­tives that will help deliv­er the organ­i­sa­tion­al goals, rather than cas­cad­ing objec­tives down to them from above.

Anoth­er aspect of instill­ing trust and con­fi­dence is ensur­ing that your man­agers lead by exam­ple when it comes to per­for­mance man­age­ment behav­iours. Man­agers who devote reg­u­lar time to dis­cussing per­for­mance and per­son­al devel­op­ment, give fre­quent, pos­i­tive feed­back and adopt a coach­ing style of man­age­ment are like­ly to gain trust and respect from their team mem­bers. So train your man­agers in these skills, start­ing at the top of the organ­i­sa­tion with your senior leadership.

Make improv­ing employ­ee engage­ment and per­for­mance sim­ple using Clear Review’s con­tin­u­ous per­for­mance man­age­ment soft­ware, allow­ing your teams to set goals, give instant feed­back and have mean­ing­ful con­ver­sa­tions with ease. To see it in action for free, fill out our book a demo form, and a mem­ber of our expert team will be in touch.

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