Ongoing performance management is, in its most basic form, a two-way conversation. At its best, it's a collaborative effort where a manager and employee come together, each with any support they require, to strengthen the person's abilities at work. This means that when a person isn't willing to talk critically about their performance, the entire strategy falls apart. Still, you don't want to go back to the old system of annual reviews. At best, these were a waste of time. In fact, an Adobe report found 64 percent of employees believe these reviews are outdated.
Still, it can be a struggle to get those same employees to participate in new performance management initiatives. To succeed, you need to challenge your staff just as you would with a standard assignment. Use the following three tips to support productive performance check-ins:
1. Have them view their OKRs beforehand
Critically evaluating performance takes a minute, both for you and your staff. If you ask an employee what he or she thinks about a certain assignment during a check-in, that person may not have enough time to deliver a satisfactory answer. The response might be something like, "Um, it was okay, I guess," leaving you struggling to coach that person to fill in the blanks.
Instead, have your staff check their objectives and key results a day or two before the meeting. A cursory glance won't do – tell your employees to look at each OKR. This gives them ample time to refresh their memories, so they're better able to provide concrete answers and direct you toward areas they'd like to discuss. Plus, it provides an opportunity for your staff to see how their past performance affects today's assignments. For example, one person can see how being late on one assignment affected his ability to complete the next one on schedule.
What's more, with goal-setting software that provides top-down visibility, your employees can see how their performance affects their peers and the company as a whole. This time of reflection is essential for helping them understand how vital their position is when it comes to supporting their coworkers.
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2. Assign a questionnaire
If you're truly worried about your employees' abilities to communicate, have them fill out a brief questionnaire before their check-in. Ask targeted questions that force them to think critically about their performance, such as:
- How have you helped your team members? How have they helped you?
- What strengths do you think you bring to this company?
- What makes you satisfied with your work, and what tools do you need in the process?
3. Ask them about workplace friendships
This topic of conversation provides an easy entry point into what could potentially become a challenging conversation. While you'll need to steer clear of any subjects that violate human resources rules, asking about friendships helps you guess at person's level of engagement. According to Gallup's latest State of the American Workplace report, people who report having a best friend at work tend to be more engaged than people who don't.
If your employee has a work buddy, steer the conversation to their performance by asking how this person helps them each day. If not, ask them to consider which work relationships are strongest and articulate why.