Managers are quite familiar with the steps involved in performance management: one-on-one meetings, performance reviews, calibration. But what’s less clear is how to work your company’s commitment to employee well-being into the overall performance management process.
What is performance management?
Performance management is an ongoing process that’s meant to ensure the performance of individual employees and teams aligns with the strategy of an organization. It also shapes the communication between managers and employees and contributes to well-being in the workplace. When executed properly, this cyclical, four-step process — which includes defining individual or team objectives, working to achieve objectives, tracking the progress of the work and reviewing performance — helps employees achieve organizational objectives that drive success.
Despite the intent of performance management, companies often struggle to implement an effective process, which can lead to workplace cultures rife with miscommunication, mismanagement and misalignment. These issues have only become more pronounced since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Why is performance management important?
With COVID-19 forcing a significant number of businesses to operate remotely, many employees are untethered from their managers like never before. Considering that only 20% of employees thought their performance was managed in a way that motivated them to produce outstanding work before COVID-19 hit, it’s highly probable this number has decreased dramatically in 2021.
On the other hand, a report from Gallup revealed that employees who get regular feedback on their strengths are 8.9% more profitable on average than those who receive feedback only during performance reviews. This means employees thrive when they’re informed, motivated and recognized.
How to add well-being to the performance management process
The longer COVID-19 prevents employees from being in the office, the more organizations need to prioritize well-being and care in both the big and small moments of the employee life cycle. We’ve provided 10 ways for managers to offer better well-being support in the performance management process. Let’s explore how they can add value to your company’s culture and employees.
1. Communicate expectations
A job done right is a job that’s been properly explained. It’s critical for managers to set clear expectations for their employees. With less face-to-face interaction and informal dialogue, managers should ensure their teams fully understand and own their goals. Anything that’s used for performance evaluation must be explicitly communicated to employees.
2. Weigh quality of work over quantity of work hours
Being the first to work and the last to leave loses its allure when your team spends every waking moment at home. Shifting focus from monitoring quantity of working hours to quality of work gives your team a sense of autonomy and shows they have your trust. Defining clear metrics associated with work quality will make this shift easier and more equitable.
3. Meet stress with compassion
According to a recent survey, nearly 70% of workers say the pandemic has been the most stressful time of their entire professional career. Managers can use this time to level-set team expectations and assess what’s absolutely critical and what’s no longer relevant. In addition to professional duties, keep in mind that many employees are feeling pressure in their personal lives with children at home, a partner out of work or otherwise. Consider your expectations accordingly.
4. Keep your employees informed
When planning to give feedback to an employee, communicate regularly about what feedback conversations will look like and how they relate to other processes at your organization, including compensation adjustments. With stress levels as high as they are worldwide, employees will appreciate the extra communication so they can know what lies ahead.
5. Hold space for personal self-reflection of the whole picture
A national poll conducted by the American Psychiatric Association found that about half of American workers are comfortable discussing mental health. However, only 15% of managers are trained to recognize signs of depression in their employees. Creating a safe space for employees to discuss what’s on their mind may help you build trust and honesty. A great exercise you can try is having a candid discussion with an employee about how the pandemic has impacted both of you personally and professionally.
6. Foster a culture of positivity that celebrates the strengths of your people
A Gallup report states that more than 80% of employees are motivated by recognition that’s honest, authentic and personalized. Acknowledging the individual contributions, strengths and gifts of your employees may be a cost-effective way to boost work performance and morale.
7. Emphasize the purpose your team has in the company’s success
A recent survey of more than 10 million employees suggests that professional growth is declining amid COVID-19. When employee development stagnates, so does work performance and morale. Continually affirming the value your employees add to the organization may give their work meaning. Managers can put this into practice by providing feedback that connects their employees’ role with the company’s purpose.
8. Collaboratively create excitement for the future
Discussing what your employees look forward to after the pandemic is a good way to lighten the mood and build excitement for the future.
9. Learn about your employees’ well-being and their plans for recovery and self-care
With work-from-home burnout up and PTO use down, it’s important to inquire about the well-being of your employees. Being in tune to your employees’ plans for self-care and recovery may help you recognize when they need a break.
10. Encourage your employees to prioritize connections with coworkers
Part of your role as a manager is to foster an environment of teamwork, collaboration and camaraderie among your employees and their colleagues. Suggesting a virtual coffee chat for employees is a great way for managers to connect them with their coworkers.
Managers who prioritize employee well-being show a commitment to professional development and whole-person care. With the lines between personal and professional life being blurred in unprecedented fashion, offering support is more important than ever. Implementing an employee experience solution to develop a comprehensive performance management process will help your employees and organization thrive during these challenging times — and beyond.
Ready to address the whole employee experience? Learn about Limeade Well-Being, the only comprehensive approach to employee well-being.