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Power Performance With Continuous Performance Management

Tim Driscoll

January 14, 2021

Work has changed. Performance management needs to change with it. Last year required quick reactions — this year requires long-term response. Leaders and employees need to hit their goals regardless of external circumstances. Yet so much has changed.

How do you hit your goals in 2021, despite what’s going on in the world? One way is to embrace Continuous Performance Management.

What is Continuous Performance Management (CPM)? CPM contrasts traditional performance reviews that occur once a year. Instead, CPM integrates individual and team goals or Objectives and Key Results into the conversation on a more regular basis. Leaders and employees establish benchmarks, track analytics, and keep communication flowing through meaningful one-to-one conversations all year long. This includes more formal periodic self-assessments and appraisals while still keeping the process agile.

In the year ahead, we believe the three keys underlying CPM provide your organization with the framework to power performance at every level from every place your people work.

For more detail on the three keys, stay tuned for our forthcoming e-book, “The Leadership Advantage: Three Keys to Power Performance With Continuous Performance Management.”

Key 1: Make It Personal for Employees

Among the (many) things that employees didn’t like about traditional performance management was the lack of personal benefit. It was mainly a compliance exercise that was more ratings focused than development focused. Employees were left wondering: What’s in it for me?

Managers must address this question. Why should an employee care about the organization’s overall objectives, and how can employees bring their personal passions, interests, and purposes to bear on those objectives?

Late last year, analysts for RedThread Research explored the topic of employee purpose in a podcast dedicated entirely to the above questions called Is Purpose Working? To get the most out of employees’ raisons d’être and your organization’s mission, managers need an integrated approach to leadership development. They need a platform upon which they can plan, create, and manage goals and OKRs, as well as have one-on-one conversations, give and receive feedback, and recognize colleagues for their accomplishments. Integrating all these components gives a more holistic view of how an employee’s daily activities contribute to the larger picture.

When a manager is better able to answer an employee’s “what’s in it for me” — and the employee knows it — better conversations and improved results are clear to everyone. It’s also the start of leadership coming alive at the ground level.

Key 2: Use Transparency to Increase Buy-in

Your performance software is only as good as the data that goes into it. When you can bring better data into a manager–employee conversation, it’s easier to build trust from that conversation.

Transparency in leadership has never been more important than it is right now. We saw its impact, positive or negative, around the world in 2020. The lessons we learned there apply equally well to performance management: Be authentic, honest, and straightforward about where you are as a leader and as an organization. This helps employees make the right decisions in their work and personal lives.

For example, employees are more likely to achieve overall goals if they play a part in shaping them, at least in how they can contribute to their progress. OKRs are an ideal methodology to do so because they can see with some specificity the organizational goals, the quantifiable measures affecting them, and the steps they can take to achieve those objectives.

When employees understand how their work contributes to the performance of the company, it builds organizational commitment and a sense of purpose in a virtual or face-to-face environment. These attributes are the building blocks of leadership and getting employees invested in the success of their team and the organization.

Key 3: Build Leadership Into the Flow of Work and Performance

One recurring theme in today’s discussions about work is the need to move more talent processes “into the flow of work.” From a process standpoint, this means making talent initiatives accessible as part of daily activities.

Integrations provide the path to get there. Traditionally, goal setting and tracking happened in an entirely different ecosystem from where the work actually happens. This creates “task switching” and “transaction costs,” slowing down your employees’ work in serious ways. It’s much better if an employee can do their work and track their goals in the same place, which creates more accurate, up-to-date data for their development.

To do just that, Inspire Software allows leaders and employees alike to seamlessly update goals, OKRs, and tasks, and recognize your people with G Suite, Office 365, Microsoft Teams, Slack, Workday, ADP, Jira, LinkedIn Learning, and more.

When you build these leadership practices, tools, and assessments into your performance process, you can continually assess individual and team performance.

If you need help understanding how performance management in 2021 will affect your organization, let’s talk.