All managers strive to keep their team effective and motivated at work. Beyond the practical importance of meeting deadlines and quotas, performance is an important gauge for whether employees are properly trained, equipped, and even satisfied while at work. A majority of employees want to perform their jobs well, but you’ll need more than motivated individuals to foster a performance-based work culture. When introducing or developing performance management technology, it is important to avoid these common mistakes:
Lack of preparation and expectations
For many companies, their performance review process is vague and misguided, tracking unnecessary metrics and setting unreasonable goals. While employee performance is intrinsically important, it needs to be quantified in a specific and meaningful way for performance reviews to be effective. When expectations are clearly defined beforehand, managers and employees alike know what the end goal is and how to better get there.
Letting your biases show
Each manager and team leader will have certain employees they consider better employees. That judgment may well be informed by years of observation, but the review process should focus on data that is as concrete as possible, minimizing the opportunities for subjective bias. If you make assumptions about which employees are the best workers, then you’ll be tempted to design metrics that give top ranks to your favorite employees. It’s also easy to get distracted by personality, assigning higher scores to outgoing and charismatic individuals, rather than focusing on work performance. Without ignoring personal bias, you should try to be as consistent as possible. Concrete data points, such as daily output, accuracy, and success, should receive more weight than subjective input like peer reviews (though that information is still important too).
Lacking buy-in from managers and/or employees
A work performance management system won’t be effective unless everyone takes the process seriously. Metrics should include the outputs that employees consider important aspects of their work. If you track productivity but not quality assurance scores, then you’ll be doing a disservice to employees who adhere to quality standards. Managers will also need training in order to properly conduct reviews and use the results. Clear communication from managers will help to secure employee buy-in and get everyone on the same page company-wide, especially when it comes to your performance management technology.
Only conducting reviews once a year
The review process should not take place only once a year, especially not at the meeting when raises and seasonal bonuses are traditionally discussed. If your employees are waiting to hear whether they’re receiving an expected raise or bonus, then they’re very unlikely to hear anything you have to say about performance. Any negative feedback will be interpreted as a justification for your decision about payments, and the positive or negative performance scores may seem trivial alongside practical concerns like salary. Plus, regular updates on progress plans and performance goals ensure higher success.
Only giving feedback during reviews
Your employees should have an opportunity to voice their opinions during the review process, especially if they feel like the metrics failed to capture the full picture of their work performance. Collecting feedback from employees is a great way to improve the process over time, identifying gaps and biases. Peer feedback is also useful in evaluating team leads, managers, and collaboration between employees. When you ask employees to evaluate the performance of their peers, it’s an empowering opportunity for them to voice concerns about communication issues and other bottlenecks that can affect workflow.
Employees fail to improve and grow over time
Performance management should be focused on improving performance, not just evaluating and quantifying it. When certain employees consistently fail to perform, and a faulty review process and technology aren’t to blame, the lack of consequences can de-motivate your more effective employees. From one review cycle to the next, your employees should have specific goals and metrics that can be evaluated with measurable success. Vague goals can make the entire process seem arbitrary. Train your managers to help employees (including remote employees) with development plans, guiding individual employees toward improvement.
Using reviews to punish employees
When managers don’t have other skills and resources for employee accountability, the performance management process can begin to sound like a threat: “Make sure this project is completed on time, or else it will impact your performance review score.” The review process shouldn’t be referenced like a prod or cudgel. Missed deadlines and employee failures will naturally affect the score, but listening to employees and demonstrating empathy can help employees look past disappointments. Don’t dwell on isolated incidents or continue to reference past issues; the process should be focused on achieving future improvement. Sometimes refresher training may be helpful, but it shouldn’t be presented as punishment.
Not using the data collected
Performance reviews are commonplace enough that some companies administer them without a clear plan for how to utilize the resulting data. The most obvious use will be evaluating employees, finding the individuals with untapped potential, and those who could serve as mentors for new hires. Other applications should be less focused on individual employees, instead focusing on the big picture and finding opportunities to improve the whole company. When recruiting applicants and onboarding new hires, you’ll want to identify the skills and competence areas that performance reviews.
Not leveraging technology
The review process can seem intimidating, whether you’re dealing with a decades-old process or starting from scratch. Fortunately, emerging performance management technology can make reviews easy to implement and collect. With performance management software like Netchex’s NetPerform, you can automatically distribute reviews multiple times a year based on key dates like hiring anniversaries, and the data is easy to compile for reporting.
Ultimately, your performance management technology will need to be adapted to the unique needs of your workforce and the goals of your company. Keep open channels of communication so that employees can express their concerns and identify ways to make the process more effective. Instead of an adversarial process, reviews should provide opportunities to streamline the business and empower individual members of your team.
Learn more about how NetPerform can help you get the most out of your company’s remote team performance management.