Performance Evaluation Trends

 Are You Keeping Up?  Is your performance management system current and effective?

For many public agencies, the answer is no. In fact, public entities across the country are rushing to update or redesign their employee performance management systems as the pressure mounts to boost accountability and reward performance.

It’s not just a public sector trend. A recent study by Human Capital Institute found that 58% of human resource professionals don’t like their current performance management system. Yet, the trend to do away with the performance evaluation looks to be a passing fad. The HCI study found that only 2% of organizations have gotten rid of their performance management systems.

The benefits of a well-designed approach to employee performance management include enhanced levels of employee engagement, achievement of challenging organizational goals, and a higher return on your human capital investment.

But what makes a well-designed employee performance management system? Author Simon Sinek suggests you start with the question, “why?” By determining one primary outcome for your performance management efforts, you can develop an approach that yields powerful results.

The HCI study found that the most common reasons to have a performance management system are to:

  • Improve performance
  • Align individual work with organizational goals
  • Develop employees

In line with these three purposes, here are three trends I’m seeing with my clients:

  1. Simplify, Simplify, Simplify!

Often, when an agency comes to me asking for help with their performance management system, they are mired in a complex, number-driven system. Including a lengthy list of factors to be rated on a numeric scale is very old school and doesn’t lead to improved performance. Instead, many organizations are simplifying the “form” to focus on a few important elements of performance. As a result, the performance evaluation is becoming a simple performance summary, reflecting highlights of regular performance-related conversations held between the manager and the employee.

  1. Start at the Top

To align employees’ day-to-day performance with the needs of the organization, clear direction is essential. A popular trend today is to start by developing a strategic plan that outlines the results the organization is trying to achieve. In most cases, the plan is best outlined by the governing body, the officials who are responsible for providing policy direction. Executives and functional managers then fill in the details. A clear and simple strategic plan defines the path forward for the organization, which in turn defines what employees need to do each day.

  1. More Frequent Feedback

A once-a-year evaluation is not sufficient in our rapidly changing world. Employees want more feedback, and they want it more often. Any adjustments to your performance management system should involve more frequent opportunities for conversations about performance between employees and managers. Daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly discussions are critical to support an employee’s need for feedback, while allowing the organization to be agile enough to adjust to changing priorities.

So how is your organization’s performance management system working? Chances are there is room for improvement. Incorporating these three trends may be just what you need to improve employee performance and enhance organizational results.

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