A business is only as strong as its employees. Develop them to their full potential, and the whole organization benefits. Yet, for years, organizations have relied on traditional “performance appraisals” to drive employee growth and development—a tool that leaves a lot to be desired.
For one thing, these once-a-year check-ins are typically focused on what’s happened in the past, not how to reach future goals. The infrequency of these manager-employee conversations is also a liability. While they may be valid scorecards for past performance, these performance appraisals rarely give employees a tangible means of reaching a higher level of success in the future.
That’s why many organizations have now moved to formalized performance management training programs. This approach proactively provides employees with the tools and guidance they need to grow professionally and contribute fully to the organization.
What is performance management training?
Performance management training is a comprehensive employee development initiative that starts when the employee is hired and continues throughout his or her time with the company. It’s a style of management that creates a work environment where employees feel like they’re empowered to do their best work and are fully aligned with the organization’s mission. Instead of waiting for annual performance reviews to know where they stand, employees understand their goals from day one, and have frequent performance conversations with their managers to track progress, provide feedback, and have their accomplishments acknowledged.
Who should performance management training include?
Every employee should go through some amount of performance management training.
Managers and supervisors should be developed as leaders, so they can effectively coach their employees, set clear expectations and communicate clearly with their teams.
Employees should not only be given performance management training but should fully understand what it is and how it works, so they can actively participate. It’s important for them to understand how this approach benefits them, what they should expect from their managers, and how their performance will be evaluated and rewarded.
Why is performance management training important?
When done well, performance management training gives employees the information and feedback they need to perform their roles well and feel more satisfied in their job. Not only does this improve the productivity and overall health of the organization, but also improves retention.
Companies that implement performance management training are not only investing in the individual employees, but in the organization itself. People are their most important asset. Aligning employees with company goals and empowering them to do their part to help achieve these goals, benefits the employee, the company, the shareholders and the company’s customers alike.
What topics are covered in performance management training?
Training specifics depend on the employee, the job and industry. However, most companies also include these business fundamentals:
- Strategic thinking
- Goal setting
- Emotional intelligence
- Active listening
- Inclusion and diversity
- Time management
- Team management
What are the foundational elements of performance management training?
Although the approach will differ from company to company, these are the basic elements of Performance Management Training:
1. Performance management planning
The day an employee gets hired, his or her manager should have a gameplan in place to start setting goals with that new hire and help them understand the expectations for their role. Goals should encompass the organization’s needs, as well as the employee’s individual career objectives.
The idea is not to layout a five-year plan, but offer up a mix of short-term goals,
to give the employee the opportunity for some quick “wins” to build confidence, in conjunction with some further-reaching, long-term goals that are attainable that year.
2. Ongoing development conversations and feedback
Once goals are set, regularly scheduled performance conversations enable the manager to provide continual feedback and clarity. At the same time, it gives employees the chance to talk with their managers about where they’re stuck or what guidance they need to reach those pre-set goals.
If an employee is showing sure signs of low performance, the manager should work to discover the root cause. Do they need more training? Is their work environment distracting? Is there something going on in their personal life?
Approaching performance discussions as an open dialog cultivates a culture of mutual respect, which improves performance, satisfaction and trust.
3. Employee performance assessment
Although the employee gets ongoing feedback, some organizations still do more in-depth employee evaluations annually or semi-annually, as well. However, nothing in these assessments should surprise the employee because of frequent check-ins and communication.
In addition, experts recommend that companies have employees complete self-assessments as part of this process. This improves self-awareness and also ensures that the employee and the manager are in sync and looking at performance through the same lens.
4. Recognition for accomplishments
If your employees are engaged, and meet their goals, they need recognition to keep that momentum going. Organizations need to pair performance management training with a comprehensive recognition program, so managers can reward a job well done, beyond annual raises.
5. Career development
In addition to enabling employees to achieve more today, a strong performance management training program should also position them for the future—acting as a steppingstone to career growth, whether that’s as a manager or individual performer.
Map out a career path for individual employees, and offer the training courses, seminars and projects they need to develop new skills and be ready to take on expanded responsibilities.
Although performance management training does take an investment of time and money, it’s one that increases retention, accelerates employee accomplishments and builds a stronger organization in the process.