How Continuous Feedback Actually Improves Performance
What makes a performance management model most effective? Incorporating continuous feedback. That isn’t news. But understanding how to successfully incorporate continuous feedback into an updated performance management model is.
The truth is most organizations know they need to provide continuous feedback — and that employees want it— but they don’t know how to offer it. That may be why 70 percent of the organizations surveyed for Deloitte’s 2017 Global Human Capital Trends research said they were planning to “reinvent” their performance management model this year. Those companies are trying to get performance management right. But what does “right” really look like?
To be most effective, a performance management model must enable managers and employees to adjust goals and training plans throughout the year. It should enable managers and employees to see where an employee is at any given time, how the individual is progressing toward established goals, and how the rate at which that individual is progressing affects those goals. That’s practically impossible with a program that only captures performance a few times a year.
Consider an employee in information technology as an example. As technology continues to progress at an exponential rate, an employee whose goals may include a lateral move will have a learning curve at first. The rate at which the employee becomes proficient in new competencies will influence how quickly he or she can progress along the established career path and make the desired moves. As that employee continues to develop, ongoing feedback and flexible goals can actively support that transition.
Non-Adaptive Program Limitations
Programs administered manually or on non-adaptive platforms require a manager to juggle all of that information at once — for every employee — while simultaneously running the department. The manager must administer knowledge tests, maintain updated records on the employee’s successes, and manage a calendar of training events and courses that may need to be continually adjusted based on prior successes or failures. That kind of oversight is prohibitive, which is why so many “reinvented” performance management models don’t seem to make much of a difference to overall performance metrics.
Models that Actually Work
To be effective, a performance management model must be combined with an adaptive, continuous solution. Such a solution can use preloaded surveys and knowledge tests to judge competency proficiency and automatically update the training schedule to either move employees forward or hold them steady until they establish that proficiency level. An automated system also will have up-to-date information on departmental groupings, job openings, and organizational gaps — all of which makes it easier to see how an individual fits into the company and where he or she can go next.
With continuous feedback, employees have constant insight into how well they’re moving toward their goals, the competencies they still need to master, and the expected timeframe for promotion. Managers too have constant insight into employee training and can use that insight to offer additional assistance exactly when it’s needed, not weeks after an employee begins to struggle. That’s the kind of continuous feedback that maintains motivation and makes a difference in engagement and performance.
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