Performance management has always been an important component in HR. When done right, it can significantly improve the employee happiness and contribution, and vice versa. This article is based on my reflection from decades of experience in dealing with employees in the business. My recent realisation is that there is another very important component that is directly linked to this: Employee Engagement.

If performance management is aimed at bringing out the best in employee contributions toward company goals, then why is it not working as well as we would like it? Organisations institutionalise this process to provide feedback, accountability and documentation to achieve performance outcomes. At its core, review of employee performance has traditionally been about defining the agreed work to be carried out, setting expectations, receiving and giving feedback (with stakeholders such as Heads of Departments, Managers, direct reports, customers), and evaluating accomplished achievements. Some leaders even use this ‘event’ to gather more supporting information or ’evidence’, to substantiate conversations with HR and other decision makers on pay rise, bonuses and promotions.

Ask any employee who absolutely loves the whole practice of performance management; hands raised are likely few and far between.

Anecdotally speaking…….

What do employees say

  • Performance review is just a process endured, since conclusions are pre-decided…
  • I feel anxious and intimidated by my boss during performance appraisal meetings. It’s better to say less…
  • My boss mostly remembers work done recently and if that is the most urgent on their KPI (Key Performance Indicator) agenda, it often becomes the basis for evaluation. Good work done over the period becomes water under the bridge…..
  • These days we work mostly in teams, formed outside our intact or domain department function. We are likely to get a biased performance review, if the work is not within our own department’s KPI.

What do reporting officers say

  • There is no need to have conversations during performance appraisals. We already know how the employee has been performing……
  • We feel inadequate discussing career development and giving feedback, especially the not so positive ones. It feels uncomfortable and can get defensive, not only for the one receiving it but also the feedback provider …..
  • It is too time consuming. Get on with what brings profit to the company; that is where we should be spending our time….
  • Domain knowledge and skills applied to the role should take precedence over effort put in. The former delivers on KPIs, effort is only nice to have as it produces less impact…

What do process owners say

  • If we don’t have performance reviews, how then do we equitably determine pay, bonus, promotions etc.?
  • We can’t get the reporting officers to submit the performance reviews of their employees on time and worse still, a good percentage don’t even submit at all’. We dread this time of year, having to chase everyone to submit performance review inputs…
  • If we don’t use forced ranking systems, how else can we ensure that employees are ‘fairly’ evaluated across the board and grade inflated performance data is minimised…
  • We get blamed for everything, including the design of the long and cumbersome forms. Filling them out is time-consuming and does nothing to improve employee performance. However, it is our only chance to get employee performance data….

According to Gallup, only 14% of employees strongly agree their performance reviews inspire them to improve.

We know that companies have started tweaking their performance management systems and processes, and some even claim that they have done away with performance reviews altogether. Well the jury is still out there on what works best.

Let us go back to basics and start by looking at the original intent, shall we? In the first place, performance management is there because it is meant to bring out employees’ best abilities, in order to achieve company goals. What has changed; it is that an employee is no longer an expendable and replaceable cog in the business output process. Employees want to be accepted, learn and grow in organisations they work for. They want to be developed and recognised for their contributions. Companies have tried making changes to improve things, but sadly most of the energy spent has been to tweak the components and /or processes in the Performance Management System. The ‘brain’ side of things so to speak. We forget it is our perception of things happening around us that drive our emotions and personal intentions, to do or not to do something.

I have discovered over time, having been an employee for some 30 years that the key to my success in achieving organisation goals and objectives, is how I perceive the company has valued my contributions. It is about whether I have had the chance to use my strengths every day, whether my teammates have my back when accosted with challenges at work, whether I am recognised for my contributions (big or small) and whether there is a chance for me to help shape the company’s future. I am proud to call myself an engaged employee because I am emotionally committed to the companies I work for and I have no qualms putting in discretionary effort toward organisation goals.

In this 2-hour event, we will be sharing insights on what you can do to boost employee engagement and build that company culture that will attract and retain the right talents in your company. Join us and start the year strong by taking concrete steps to grow your organisation by engaging your team!

In the days where compensation is no longer the sole driving force for employees to join and stay in your company; where resources spent on traditional one / two-day workshops are no longer effective because the enthusiasm built does not last beyond the duration of the workshop. We need to rethink our approach. We need to move to a new model – active engagement.

You need to experience this in order to understand what it can do to boost performance, bring back energy into the organisation and align cultures, not only of the company but the employee as well. There are a quite a few of us out there, who believe in this because we have helped organisations achieve what they have always been looking for. We are happy to share insights and have you experience first-hand, what it means to boost employee engagement and build that company culture that brings out the best abilities among your employees, neither which you nor your employees even knew you had.

If you are willing to try something different, reach us. Just get a few people together, put aside some 90 mins to go through the experience and see for yourself. Knowledge of culture change/ transformation, employee performance and engagement are destined to remain as rumour, if they are not in the muscles of employees.

Article by Grace Quek