How Ongoing Performance Management, and Positive Feedback and Coaching Can Impact Performance

How Ongoing Performance Management, and Positive Feedback and Coaching Can Impact Performance

Today I’m really delighted to introduce Sean Conrad a Senior Product Analyst at Halogen Software, a Certified Human Capital Strategist, and a frequent writer on the topic of employee performance management.

I loved Julie’s post An Alternative to Performance Appraisal. It captures a lot of my own thinking on the whole process. Far too often, performance appraisals are something managers and employees dread; they serve to demoralize rather than engage and empower employees.

In my experience, ongoing performance management is a far more important than performance appraisals. When done right, ongoing performance management makes the annual performance appraisal easier and more effective, because it takes the surprise and dread out of it. But most importantly, ongoing performance management is what really supports employee development, engagement and high performance.

As managers and leaders, our job is really to support and develop our employees. We need to give them direction, so they can align their efforts with the organisation’s goals. And we need to give them continual feedback and coaching on what they’re doing well and should continue to do, and what they could change or develop to become more effective. It’s not about evaluating, judging and rating them; it’s about helping them continually grow, develop and make a positive contribution to the organisation. Similarly, as managers and leaders, we should be asking our employees for feedback on what we’re doing well and should continue to do, and what we could change to become more effective. Truly effective performance management is an ongoing, two-way dialogue between managers and employees.

I too think it’s important to focus on the positive, giving the employee feedback and coaching on what they’re doing right and need to continue to do. I also suggest that managers take it one step further and do some root cause analysis with employees on the underlying factors that support their success. Once we know what engages our employees, what ignites their energy and passion, what things contribute to their success, we can help recreate those circumstances.

I recently heard Jamie Resker, a recognised thought leader and innovator in the area of talent management, give a talk on how to give effective feedback, and found her very insightful. She suggests that managers have regular (at least once per month) conversations with their employees about performance; the frequency is predicated by how far back you can remember details about performance. She then says that rather than describe deficiencies when giving feedback, a manager should instead describe the changes an employee can make to be more effective. In that sense, feedback should always be forward looking, focusing on what could change, rather than what failed. It’s focused on improvement and development, helping the employee to become more effective. And it helps reduce defensiveness and discouragement.

When we engage in an ongoing dialogue on performance with our employees that’s focused on helping them continually improve, annual performance appraisals become annual performance reviews. They’re simply an opportunity to take stock of all we discussed over the past year, and capture progress. The focus and emphasis is on the ongoing dialogue that drives engagement and success.

Sean Conrad is a Certified Human Capital Strategist and Senior Product Analyst at Halogen Software He writes and speaks frequently about talent management trends and best-practices for Halogen’s Exploring talent management blog

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