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As with any element of keeping a business flourishing, performance management comes with its challenges. One in particular that impacts the performance management scene more now than in the past is the huge shift in the way companies approach it and see it through. What used to be an annual check-in has now become a meaningful, ongoing experience between managers and team members. While in previous posts we defined performance management and how to optimize it, it’s also interesting to understand how the goals and concepts that outline performance management have changed in the past decade.
So what are the differences?
From Competition to Cultivation
As part of the performance management of the past, managers used to hold yearly meetings to look over a few figures and hand out yet another one to rank an employee’s performance. The employee would walk away from the conversation with a numerical rating and ranking – if it was good enough, the interviewee would experience another year on the job, if it wasn’t, they were likely to lose their job without too much of an afterthought. In this work environment of the past, management was seen as indispensable and employees were just the opposite. This train of thought stems from the classical management style that ruled the industrial era. So, the thinking goes, if one cog of a machine is slower or less effective than others, it should be removed or replaced – in this thought model, the same applies to employees of an organization. This environment, paired with black and white, numerical ratings led to a performance management system based on competition more than anything else.
Now, the mindset has taken a positive turn away from internal competition and toward career cultivation. In fact, it could even be said, the whole concept has made a complete 180-degree adjustment. A manager’s role used to come with a great sense of security, but now the everyday employee is just as, if not more, valuable to a company. Why is this? In today’s knowledge-driven economy replacing employees is not so easy. The process of recruiting, training and bringing an employee to productivity is increasingly costly. Hence, the modern goal of performance management practices is to monitor and highlight areas of progress and needed improvement to cultivate the employee’s career and help them reach greater potential in their role. You can imagine how much time and effort goes into this elevated approach to performance management. When leaders invest so much into each employee’s progress, each team member become less easily replaceable.
From Annual Check-up to the Era of Continuous Coaching
In the early days of performance management, annual reviews may have been sufficient for an organization’s purposes. Leaders were driven by an inner dialogue that went something like this: “Are the employees performing efficiently? If not, they will be replaced by someone who will fulfill our needs.” Can you imagine if companies like Google, Amazon and eBay managed their teams like this? Not only would those companies be completely unrecognizable at this point, they may not have seen success at all. Their progress and ability to scale could be credited to how they approached building an internal team who enjoy and grow in their job enough to be self-motivated to work hard and stick around at the company. A few decades ago it would’ve been safe to assume employees were easily replaceable, and not just that, but there was likely a line of people waiting to fill the position right away. Now, with each role requiring so much practical training and knowledge – not just in a given industry, but in the individual company as well – it’s no longer a wise economic choice to replace people often.
This employee-first mindset is what modern performance management systems are all about. Employees equate satisfaction in the workplace with the ability to grow and improve in their roles. This growth takes place based on ongoing performance “reviews,” or rather an employee’s ability to keep a close eye on his or her daily progress and areas of improvement. Although an ongoing approach to performance management can seem daunting, technology has made it not only possible, but easy to understand and simple to execute. These platforms allow managers and employees to have eyes on the same dashboard of the person’s progress. Ongoing performance management isn’t scary or overwhelming when we team up with technology to make instantaneous, real-time feedback the everyday norm in our organizations.
Things Are Looking Up…and Data-Driven
Before the recession of 2008, companies were driven by efficient, effective business execution. Teams were important, but the focus was still on managers as the primary clients and owners of performance data and performance management activities. Now, we live in a different time when companies approach their success in highly different ways. The industry is taking a leap from manual performance reviews to transparent, data-driven, real time updates supplemented by automation. Employees today are much more involved in the process and get much more visibility into how their activities are driving the bottom line and creating measurable efficiency gains.
As we allow these modern ideas and goals to become part of our business model, we will see more motivated employees who have a clear view into their daily progress and areas of development. This is the new generation of the workforce that will march their companies into the future.
Gameffective is an Employee-Centric Performance Management Platform – the “fitness tracker” for the Connected Workforce of the Future. Gameffective empowers employees to boost their work performance through hyper-personalised goals, real time tracking and data-driven feedback and coaching. Deployed with the world’s leading organizations Gameffective helps managers drive up employee value day by day. To find out how Gameffective can help transform your organization go to www.gameffective.com or book a live demo.