Work is a relationship – between employees and their coworkers, managers, employers, and the organization as a whole. No matter the size of your company, it’s a living, breathing ecosystem that requires everyone to participate in order to build a culture of high performance.
And like every healthy relationship, everyone involved needs to make deliberate, consistent efforts to keep it going strong, as employee engagement expert Jason Lauritsen shares in his new book, Unlocking High Performance.
Lauritsen recently collaborated with my company in a series of webinars and live workshops to share his research about how to cultivate an employee experience that meets core human and relationship needs to unlock each employee’s full potential. Here are four key tips we took away from his masterclass series in performance management:
Test Your Performance Management Effectiveness
“Performance management isn’t a form. It’s not an appraisal. It’s a system. It may be the most important system in your organization when designed correctly,” Lauritsen says. A systematic relationship may not sound like the most glamorous of organizational essentials, but it’s a vital core of employee and business success.
Yet despite many positive changes in recent years, organizations are still struggling to cultivate a performance management strategy that meets core human and relationship needs in order to unlock each employee’s full potential.
In fact, 95 percent of managers are dissatisfied with the way their companies conduct performance reviews, according to recent research from the Corporate Executive Board (now Gartner). The same study found that 90 percent of HR leaders say the process doesn’t even yield accurate information.
Even worse, Gallup reports that only 14 percent of employees strongly agree that the performance reviews they receive inspire them to improve.
It’s a good time to re-evaluate your system for what’s working and what needs more attention. Start the conversation by asking managers and employees for feedback – especially those who are struggling to meet their goals. Give managers the performance management tools they need to start coaching and developing their employees to get them engaged in their work, bridge skill gaps and start achieving their goals.
Embrace a Development Mindset
For a company to be able to thrive as markets evolve and industries disrupt by the minute, everyone within the organization needs to prioritize learning and development (L&D).
On-the-job growth not only helps the company to stay competitive, but it also allows employees to stay at the forefront of their roles and makes them more attractive candidates – whether for an internal promotion, lateral move or wherever their career takes them.
Cultivating a development mindset means embracing a culture shift. Development needs to be positioned not just as a top-down initiative – employees also need to see the inherent benefits of continuous development.
But learning for its own sake isn’t useful. Make the connection between L&D activities to employee performance outcomes that move the needle on business goals. Company leaders need to ensure alignment between talent management and business goals. Remember: As business needs evolve, so should your employees’ goals reflect these changes.
Empower managers to support growth and performance
The employee-manager relationship can be one of the most powerful tools for unlocking high performance in employees, Lauritsen says.
Yet only 30 percent of employees strongly agree that their manager involves them in goal setting, according to Gallup. And employees whose managers involve them in goal setting are almost four times more likely to be engaged than other employees.
Managers need to be able to support employee growth and performance with practical strategies, tools, and resources.
One such tool costs absolutely nothing: Establishing consistent, ongoing 1:1 meeting where managers and employees can connect to discuss successes, challenges and build rapport to strengthen their relationships. Coaching and feedback take center stage in a 1:1 meeting.
Employees need to set the agenda and bring key wins and challenges to their manager’s attention. The manager can then take the time to appreciate and recognize the employee’s contributions while also guiding them around obstacles.
The key is communication.
Managers need to create opportunities for meaningful dialogue because building trust and relationships happen through ongoing conversations. It doesn’t happen in once-a-year performance appraisals. Employees need feedback and guidance in real time so that they can make the necessary adjustments to their performance to maintain high-quality work by improving where needed.
Invest in the right tools
Investing in the right talent tools means combining these strategies with technology to improve your people’s work experiences to give them the personalized, intuitive, interactive experiences they need to grow and develop and feel valued so that they can give their best every day.
Talent development software that manages and makes suggestions for learning activities, documents their performance and goals, and empowers employees to take charge of their own experiences not only unlock employee performance but also their potential.
The right talent technology helps maintain a record of employee performance while connecting it to their development. But talent technology is no substitute for a strong talent strategy. You have to have a clear vision for what you want to achieve before investing in a tool to help you achieve your goals.
Work is a relationship
Building a healthy work relationship between employees and the employer takes time, effort, vision, and the right tools. And it’s absolutely necessary to unlock high performance and remove barriers to growth. Focusing on each employee’s unique performance needs, you’ll not only have a high-performing company, but you’ll also create an exceptional employee experience.