How to Ride the Performance Management Wave, All the Way to Great Leadership

Keeping a close eye on your employees’ performance and using the data wisely, can help managers reach the next level in leadership. We look at how best practices in team and performance management can create inspirational stories

If there is one aspect of HR that’s especially ROI focused, it’s performance management. After all, what can be a better indicator of productivity and efficiency, than performance?

What often goes unnoticed is the potential of performance management as a continual, one-on-one channel for exchanging feedback, constructive criticism, and appreciation. These, in turn, involve middle management and team leads into organizational processes, and equip them with the tools needed to harness the workforce.

The result? Managers are set on the fast-track to becoming true leaders – visionaries, and the source of possible inspiration for juniors or even peers.

Effective performance management entails more than pushing employees to improve and meet targets. Most discussions on performance management stress on the output side of it, while done right, it can also promote great leadership.

This is key to sustaining performance in the long run, beyond immediate goalposts and the horizons at hand.

While exceptional leaders can prove to be a real asset to your organization, managers who are just getting by can have a detrimental effect. One of the major causes of voluntary employee turnover, this leads to unnecessary costs, poor employer repute, and weak branding for your business.

Effective leaders, on the other hand, are willing to take risks – they go beyond what’s on their plate to ideate, innovate, and contribute to the organizational bulwark.

Here’s a look at how to foster motivational leadership in the workplace, using performance management strategies:

Improve the lines of communication between employees, team leads, and senior management.

When an employee is promoted to a managerial post, it’s often assumed he already has the tools, skillsets, and knowledge base required for the role. This isn’t true in all cases – while the result of appraisals is generally deserved, there could be a learning curve involved.

A robust performance management system elicits feedback and commentary from the new manager on a regular basis . It also includes training mechanisms to help him understand the bigger picture behind team discussions, critical questions, and approval needs.

Performance management platforms that support dialogs – whether real, virtual, or real-time – can significantly add to a manager’s communication skills.

The art of communicating with stakeholders is taking center stage today, and can smoothen relationships within the team. As trust between employee and manager is reinforced and the latter is made aware by senior management what’s required from his role, he becomes more and more comfortable in his new post.

Increase honesty and transparency across the board.

Does your organization encourage candid conversations on the floor?

Increased transparency eliminates siloes and encourages collaborations – a must for modern organizations. Gone are the days of firmly divided teams dedicated to absolutely disconnected tasks. Today, employees are expected to wear several hats at once and managers are no exceptions.

Generally the first or even only touch point to the larger ‘enterprise’ for company foot-soldiers, managers must clearly communicate needs, vision, and strategies, without losing anything in translation.

It’s like an extremely high-stakes game of Chinese Whispers, and it works best when the business is like an open book.

Applications like Sarahah and EightSpokes are helping employers gather accurate feedback on performance, which can be incorporated into stand-ups, weekly discussions, and appraisal meetings.

Begin with providing enough context – employees should be aware of how his role fits into the organizational ecosystem, how he can upskill, and add to the overall journey. Other than pushing the bottom line, this is essential for an empowered workforce.

Also, informal comments bring a relaxed approach to performance management. Employees don’t feel pushed to work – rather, they’re motivated to succeed, by a leader whom they respect. And for performance management to go from the old-school ‘carrot-and-stick’ model to today’s collaborative paradigm, managers can’t just cascade targets downwards.

Transparent performance management pipelines encourage shared ownership – managers take their slice of the criticism pie, and employees get their bit of recognition .

Remember, the modern workplace is no place for fragile egos. Employees must be proactively encouraged to point out gaps, errors, and new opportunities – in the workflow, as well as workforce interactions. Managers who can welcome and imbibe this feedback as part of performance assessment can truly transform into leaders.

Which brings us to – Build a culture of equity and humility.

If there’s one element common to all effective teams, it’s that each team member is valued at par with the next. A reporting manager is only as valuable as the employees working with him, a sentiment that must be fostered across the organization.

An important aspect of performance management, then, is to set aside individual goals and embrace collective ones. At the end of the day, all employees – no matter the designation – are working towards one, unified vision. And as contributions to the bottom line add up, performance management processes should also be linked to recognition platforms.

A mark of a great leader is one that keeps his employees excited and engaged, even when the task at hand might be uninspiring!

Intelligent performance management makes great leaders

Building strong leadership at your company is often a mix of strategic hiring, innovative engagement schemes, and luck. But with a robust performance management system in your HR toolbox, what’s created is an environment ripe for collaboration, new ideas, and forward progression.

Equipped with the right tools, there’s nothing stopping average managers, from becoming aspirational faces of the organization.


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