Managers are the anchor of an organisation's performance management strategy. Their ability to set clear goals, provide constructive criticism and address performance concerns greatly influences employee engagement and productivity.
However, many managers struggle with conducting meaningful performance reviews and implementing robust performance management strategies. This is where HR professionals step in, armed with the knowledge and tools to train managers for better performance management. In this article, we will explore strategies and approaches that HR can employ to empower managers in delivering effective performance reviews and enhancing overall performance management within the company.
The Importance of Manager Training for Performance Management
Performance management lies at the heart of organisational success, serving as a compass that guides employees towards their goals while aligning with the broader objectives of the company. However, the effectiveness of performance management largely depends on the skills and capabilities of managers who orchestrate these processes. This is where the significance of manager training comes into play, as it plays a pivotal role in shaping the quality and outcomes of performance management initiatives.
Quality Feedback and Growth: Managers are responsible for providing constructive feedback that informs employees about their performance strengths and areas needing improvement. Properly trained managers can deliver feedback in a way that is motivating and actionable, leading to enhanced employee engagement and growth. Feedback that is specific, timely, and well-communicated helps individuals understand their contributions to the organisation and empowers them to take ownership of their development.
Goal Alignment and Clarity: Effective performance management necessitates the establishment of clear and aligned goals. Trained managers can skillfully collaborate with employees to define objectives that are not only SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) but also in line with the company's strategic direction. When goals are well-defined and connected to the bigger picture, employees are more likely to feel motivated and purposeful in their work.
Skill Development and Training: Managers are often the first point of contact for identifying skill gaps and development opportunities among their team members. With proper training, managers can accurately assess the strengths and weaknesses of their employees and design training plans that enhance job-related skills. This proactive approach leads to a workforce that is continually adapting and acquiring the competencies needed to thrive in evolving work environments.
Conflict Resolution and Relationship Building: Performance management is not solely about metrics and goals; it also involves cultivating healthy working relationships. Trained managers are equipped to navigate delicate conversations, resolve conflicts, and build trust among team members. Strong interpersonal skills enable managers to address issues effectively, fostering a harmonious work atmosphere where collaboration and open communication flourish.
Employee Engagement and Retention: Employees who feel valued and acknowledged for their efforts are more likely to be engaged and committed to their roles. Managers who have undergone proper training in performance management can recognise and celebrate the accomplishments of their team members, thereby boosting morale and job satisfaction. Engaged employees are not only more productive but also more likely to stay with the company long-term.
Continuous Improvement and Adaptation: The business landscape is dynamic, and performance management strategies must evolve accordingly. Trained managers are better equipped to adapt their approaches to changing circumstances, leveraging data and insights to refine their strategies. This adaptability ensures that performance management remains relevant and effective, even as the company navigates new challenges.
Organisational Alignment: Managers act as bridges between upper management and front-line employees. When managers are well-trained in performance management, they can effectively convey organisational goals and expectations to their teams. This alignment ensures that every employee's efforts contribute to the company's overarching mission, leading to a more cohesive and focused workforce.
The intricacies of effective performance management go far beyond the boardroom. Managers need a detailed understanding of human behaviour, communication and data analysis. Without a proper training programme, managers can stumble when navigating the complexities of performance management. So, how exactly can HR step in to help managers improve their performance management skills?
Ways HR can Train Managers for Better Performance Management
Bias training for fair & objective performance reviews
We are a society marked by distinct social hierarchies. Managers (and employees) may rarely encounter individuals whose experiences are different to their own. This lack of exposure contributes to the formation of stereotypes. This shapes the attitudes of untrained managers and affects the review process.
The fundamental element of performance management is conducting fair performance reviews across the board. HR can provide managers with bias training to ensure that evaluations are based on merit rather than personal perceptions. By understanding these unconscious biases, managers contribute to a more impartial workplace.
By raising awareness about biases, fostering self-awareness, standardising evaluation processes, encouraging open dialogue, and incorporating techniques like blind reviews, HR equips managers to recognize and mitigate unconscious biases. This training promotes fair and accurate performance assessments, ultimately contributing to a more inclusive work culture where employees' contributions are valued based on merit.
Performance appraisal methods training
Choosing the right performance appraisal method is vital for accurate employee assessments. HR plays a pivotal role in enhancing managerial capabilities by providing performance appraisal training.
Here are a few methods:
- Management By Objective: This is when a manager identifies specific objectives for each employee. Goals set under this method utilise the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-sensitive) technique. These types of performance appraisals consist of four crucial steps that involve goal setting, evaluation standards, analysis and periodic review.
- Behaviourally Anchored Rating Scale (BARS): This method combines traditional essay evaluation and rating scales. It is more costly to conduct but could deliver better results. The BARS analyse the behaviour and performance of employees. Using multiple BARS statements and scales 'anchor' (rank) employees with either good, average or poor ratings.
- Critical incident method: This performance appraisal method assesses and evaluates how employees handle certain situations. It serves as a detailed and informative method to improve employee development and growth, when compared to other methods.
- 360-degree feedback: This performance review is when feedback is collected from various sources. These include; superiors, peers, subordinates and customers. It is an effective performance management tool for managers to use, as it gives a multifaceted breakdown of employees.
- Forced choice method: This appraisal method is known as an objective-based tactic and rates employees based on a set of positive and negative statements.
Choosing the correct performance evaluation method is crucial to reflect on employee performance. By using proper performance management software, these methods can contribute to greater employee and business results!
How can managers give effective feedback to their team members? See these performance appraisal examples to help you give better performance reviews.
Encouraging managers to create a culture of coaching
Ongoing performance reviews provide the perfect platform for managers to engage with their teams. This helps to boost morale and productivity levels, which will benefit the company in the long run.
HR should encourage and support managers to adopt a coaching mindset to foster continuous employee improvement, development and growth. Using their coaching skills, managers can provide insight on a regular basis, highlighting employee strengths and weaknesses.
Teaching managers to deliver constructive feedback
Many would rather shy away from delivering negative feedback. However, constructive criticism is the cornerstone of performance improvement. HR needs to provide effective tools to deliver employee feedback. Methods that are specific, actionable and focused on behavioural traits - rather than personal traits - can set managers up for success in these roles.
By providing comprehensive training in these areas, managers will gain the competence and confidence to manage the performance of a more productive and engaged workforce. This approach creates an environment where employees feel motivated to make positive changes, which enhances their overall contributions to the organisation.
Training managers to address performance concerns promptly and effectively
As mentioned, addressing employee concerns in a timely and effective manner is essential to prevent minor problems from festering into major challenges. Delaying prompt intervention could potentially be detrimental to the company. Some common poor performance issues that you may come across can be; bad management skills, lateness, absenteeism, time-wasting or conflicts between co-workers.
HR's involvement is essential in these performance reviews. HR can aid in equipping managers with strategies to help them conduct difficult conversations. This will also allow managers to set necessary improvement plans to help employees succeed.
Here's a quick 8-step strategy plan to help managers address performance concerns promptly:
- Identify the issue: Begin by recognising the specific employee performance concerns. Pinpoint exactly what needs improving and gather relevant data to support your observations.
- Address the issue immediately: Arrange a private meeting with the employee to discuss their performance issues. Addressing the issue as soon as possible will prevent the problem from continuing and/or affecting the rest of the team.
- Document the process: Taking notes/keeping a paper trail of the review process is vital if it comes to escalating the problem to senior management. This can be in the form of work journals or evidence of verbal/written warnings, etc.
- Communicate clearly and respectfully: Begin the conversation by acknowledging the employee's contributions and strengths to the company. Then, clearly, calmly and respectfully express your concerns about the specific issue you have. It's important to provide examples to illustrate your point.
- Listen actively: Allow the employee to share their perspective on the issue. Sometimes, employees may not even be aware that they are doing or have done something wrong.
- Set performance goals: To rectify the problem, work together with the employee to establish clear and achievable improvement goals. Using the SMART method can be helpful here.
- Create action plans: Develop a clear and structured action plan that outlines the necessary steps of your expectations for the employee. This includes any milestones/deadlines that they need to fulfil.
- Provide support and follow-up: Ensure that employees are fully equipped with the resources and additional training to succeed in meeting the established goals. Schedule follow-up meetings to monitor the employee's progress and provide ongoing feedback.
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Conclusion: How HR Software Supports Performance Management
XCD offers a comprehensive HR solution that manages your entire employee lifecycle, ensuring HR compliance and accuracy. Our HMRC-approved HR software eliminates manual data transfers of outdated spreadsheets. Additionally, our AI-powered systems handle time-consuming payroll tasks to help make your processes more efficient. Most importantly for performance management, XCD software includes a powerful performance module for efficient and effective performance reviews, feedback, and tracking the improvement of your people.
XCD's people-focused solutions transform the way you attract, nurture and engage the talent that powers your business. As we like to say, "It's a lot simpler, faster, better, slicker, fresher!".