While our workspaces, workflows and workload have adjusted these last weeks, performance-related conversations have fallen by the wayside for many, as it’s been tricky for many people leaders to be clear about how to hold people accountable. It is for this reason that performance management conversations become more important than ever.
Often, leaders think of performance management as just applying to performance reviews; however, performance management applies to an ongoing process of communication between a supervisor and an employee that occurs throughout the year, in support of accomplishing the strategic objectives of the organization. The communication process includes clarifying expectations, setting objectives, identifying goals, providing feedback, and reviewing results.
Our aim in this post is to provide a practical, step-by-step process for people leaders to assess the effectiveness of their existing performance management systems and identify a plan to calibrate it in these uncertain times.
- Check your biases about performance management. Are you comfortable with having performance-related conversations with employees? Is it easier with some employees than others? Why is that? Do you have any biases that are impacting your approach to an employee?
- Identify previously articulated performance expectations. When and how were they communicated? Do they still apply? If not, how do they need to be adjusted?
- Meet with each employee individually to clearly define expectations, including timelines and specific measures of success. This is imperative for several reasons:
- Many employees are concerned about job stability. Providing clear expectations communicates there is work to be done and that they are part of the team needed to do it!
- Providing clear leadership and expectations is a well-documented factor that contributes to psychological safety, which in turn results in increased engagement and productivity.
- This protects employers who are concerned about employees slacking off by ensuring that there are clear deliverables.
- This protects employees who are facing challenges related to childcare, lack of appropriate workspace, household needs and distractions and allows them the identify where they have flexibility, ideally shifting the emphasis when possible to outputs and productivity as opposed to hours clocked in and out.
- Discuss with each employee what they need from you to be successful. What worked in the office might or might not be adequate in the work-from-home crisis scenario. How and how often do they need a check-in? What approvals do they need and how will they get them? Will you have set “office hours” to be available for your staff, or how can they get quick answers in between regular check–ins? Do they have the tools they need to be successful?
- Assess the impact of the crisis on employees’ workload. Is their workload higher or lower? How do you know? Where some employers have paused hiring or even, unfortunately, had to implement layoffs, others are seizing the opportunity to snap up top talent or to move projects forward with scalable contract teams. Contact us to learn more about our scalable teams!
- Honestly reflect on your supervisory skills. Where are you confident and where do you need some coaching and/or practice? How skilled are you at giving and receiving feedback? In a crisis, your skills will be put to the test and your employees need you to bring your best. If your employees are working from home, how will you compensate for the reduced ability to “read” non-verbal cues? How will you know how people are really doing?
- Be authentic – first. Increase trust in your team by sharing with staff about how the adjustments are going for you and how you’re leading yourself through adaptations needed in a crisis. This will give your team permission to be open as well and help create levels of safety that are necessary for fearless organizations.
- If appropriate, identify a plan to up-skill and re-skill. What could you learn or try in new ways during this time?
- Ask for help. If you are struggling with clear expectations, are concerned about how to manage performance or are concerned about the mental health of an employee (or yourself!), ask for help and support from your Manager or your HR professional. Don’t have an HR professional on your team? No problem, just contact us and our HR On-Demand services are here to support you as and when you need help.
Want to know more about how to manage the performance of your team? Join us this Thursday, May 7, 2020, at 9 am PST/10 am MST/12 pm EST for a free webinar to learn tips and strategies that you can put to work right away to help your team perform. Following the webinar, participants will receive an actionable toolkit to help guide you in the weeks and months to come. Click here to reserve your spot.
Ray Kruck, Founder, CEO, Tugboat Logic Inc
Ray has a 22+ year enterprise security career with executive leadership roles in Corporate Development, Marketing and Sales at several leading firms, including Check Point Software, Proofpoint, Websense, and Voltage Security. In 2011, Ray co-founded Nexgate with a breakthrough platform to help brands discover, monitor and secure their brands’ social presence. Nexgate was acquired by Proofpoint (NASDAQ: PFPT) as its largest acquisition in 2014. Since Nexgate, Ray co-founded Pointgrey Partners an early-stage venture investment firm focused on deep technology plays that drive competitive disruption in the enterprise and life science markets. Ray enjoys mentoring other startup ventures with his participation as an Associate in Canada’s leading technology venture mentorship program – Creative Destruction Lab. In 2017, Ray founded and became CEO of Tugboat Logic Inc, a virtual CISO platform that leverages advanced technology and embedded guidance to automate and simplify security management. Tugboat Logic helps clients prove compliance and transact more effectively. To date, the company has raised over $15M in venture capital and leads its market with more than 200 enterprise clients, over 20 strategic audit and solution partners worldwide.
Karan Gupta, SVP Engineering, Shift Technologies Inc
Karan brings over 25 years experience founding and scaling tech companies and now as current SVP of Engineering at Shift Technologies, Inc., an e-commerce startup on a mission to bring trust and simplicity to the peer-to-peer used car market. He is seasoned in data-driven product development and growth strategy, having co-founded a multi-million dollar startup, Mammoth, a cloud SaaS startup built to collaborate on shared projects with file sharing, wikis & real-time messaging. Mammoth served users from 80+ countries until it was acquired by Prysm in 2016. Prior to that, he ran collaboration at Sony PlayStation across the US, EU & Japan, was accepted into AngelPad, and in 2002 was invited to be a member of Mensa. He is an innovator and has first had extensive experience building high performing remote technical teams. He is passionate about music and loves motorcycles.
Alistair Shepherd-Cross, M.Sc., Founder & CEO, Teamit Inc & Agile Recruiting
For the last 20 years, Alistair has had a front-row seat to the tech industry’s ups and downs as a trusted advisor to some of the tech industry’s most successful businesses in both Canada & the US. As a tech recruiting specialist, he has connected Canada’s top tech talent with companies as they scale, and has a unique perspective on the challenges and opportunities for leaders pursuing high-performing teams in challenging times.