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Performance reviews have often been the source of much employee dread, but employees aren’t alone in this sentiment. According to management research firm CEB, 9 out of 10 managers are unhappy with the way their company conducts performance reviews. Similarly, 9 out of 10 HR leaders believe that the performance review process doesn’t provide accurate information.

So why carry on with these dreaded performance reviews? The purpose of these reviews should be to reflect on performance and plan for future development, and ideally promote communication and feedback while strengthening working relationships. 

That doesn’t sound bad right? It may even sound necessary. So perhaps the problem doesn’t lie with performance reviews themselves, but with how they are conducted.

For example, yearly appraisals no longer cut it in the age of digital transformation and the near constant upheaval the last few years has awarded us. The pace of change has picked up thanks to external influences and rapidly developing technology, requiring businesses to adapt to constant change and fluctuations in demand with organizational agility. 

As companies and their employees adapt to work in a more agile fashion, shouldn’t the way we manage performance take a similar approach?

Focus on the Future with Agile Performance Management

The traditional approach to performance management is based on a yearly evaluation of  individual employee performance. This bureaucratic process is done to evaluate overall employee performance as it relates to the company’s overall goals. From the employee perspective, the main benefit of these evaluations is to (hopefully) receive salary increases and/or bonuses. 

However, the traditional performance management process is still very much focused on past actions. Agile performance management, on the other hand, places an additional emphasis on the future development of employees and the organization as a whole. This shifts the focus of the performance management process towards unleashing the maximum potential of individual employees through coaching and career planning. 

Based on the same principle that drives continuous improvement in the workplace, and continuous engagement among the workforce, agile performance management has a more collaborative approach based on a continuous feedback model. 

Agile performance assessments are not only focused on performance but on growth and future development. Agile performance management is based on these four pillars: continuous learning, frequent check-ins, building trust, and a sense of connection to the work community. 

The quickening pace of change that affects the modern workplace requires agility in everything we do. For this reason agile performance assessments are generally more frequent, more accurate, and more success-oriented than the traditional approach. Despite the increase in frequency of assessments, agile performance management is often supported by digital tools and is quicker and more efficient.

How Does Agile Performance Management Benefit Your Business?

Agile performance management can improve the effectiveness of your business and bring new value. Read on to find out the key benefits of switching to agile performance management.

Greater Communication and Collaboration 

Traditional performance management is based on hierarchy, whereas agile performance management is more collaborative and supports the regular flow of ideas, creativity, and individual and team development. 

In conventional performance assessments, communication was only one-way, from the top down. Agile performance management creates more room for discourse and mutual discussion of ideas for the way forward. Supportive tech tools provide multiple feedback channels that are used to solicit feedback from multiple sources, not just managers. 

Increased Employee Engagement and Recognition

Perhaps the number one advantage of an agile performance management model is that it dramatically boosts the level of employee engagement. This is due largely to the momentum that is sustained from more frequent feedback in the agile model, whereas traditional, once a year performance reviews tend to lose the initial excitement surrounding past accomplishments and hard work. Traditional performance management often left employees feeling undervalued and not properly recognized for hard work as a result.

In addition, agile performance management communicates what is expected of employees on a regular basis, rather than once a year. This helps employees better prepare for reviews and make changes as needed. The increased communication and collaborative approach improves employees’ sense of belonging in the company, which ushers in all the benefits of better employee engagement

Increased Employee Productivity 

Agile performance management addresses employee challenges in a more constructive way. Coaching from managers combined with clearly defined employee career paths allows employees to properly address their weaknesses and look at them as opportunities to grow. 

When performance management is combined with solid learning and development programs, employee productivity increases. Performance monitoring in a business can offer quick and easy insight into employee performance, which can help managers schedule check-ins accordingly. Productivity monitoring software and other work monitoring tools can allow managers to give employees more flexibility and autonomy without sacrificing productivity. 

How to Adapt a More Agile Performance Management Model

Ready to pivot to a more agile and strategic performance management model but not sure where to start? You can begin transforming your business's performance management approach to a more agile one by taking the following steps:

Increase the Frequency of Check-ins

Above all, the single once a year review has to go. For a more agile performance management model it is essential to at least accompany yearly reviews with more frequent check-ins. Six out of ten employees report wanting more feedback on their performance

To be more future-focused, discussing performance once a year is simply not going to cut it. A mix of weekly, bi-weekly, and monthly check-ins between employees and managers ensures that managers are able to stay on top of employee performance. If any issues arise, they are discussed quickly and able to be mitigated before having a negative impact on performance. 

In times of constant change it's incredibly important to keep the channels of communication open and use them to ensure your workforce can adapt fast to flux, and quickly accommodate changing priorities. If you wait to address change only once a year, it may prove to be too late to make necessary changes and the competitiveness of your business will suffer.

More frequent check-ins also promote more 2-way discourse between employees and managers. This allows your workforce to build better relationships between colleagues and for employees to feel more valued within the company. 

Focus on the Present and Future

Traditional performance reviews spend 80% of time talking about the past. As mentioned above, only focusing on the past is not conducive to modern agile working environments. If the last few years have taught us anything, it's that a lot can change in a year. This is why companies can no longer afford to focus on performance management only once a year. 

With frequent check-ins managers are able to keep their finger on the pulse of the workforce. This enables them to focus on the present moment and to quickly detect any problems which can be addressed and corrected immediately. 

In addition to the present, agile performance management also allows managers to focus on the future and anticipate future trends and needs. As management increasingly pivots towards more of a “coach” role, they are able to really understand their employees and see their true potential. This allows managers to help employees with career development and to prepare them for potential future roles in the company, which has tremendous benefits for both the business and employees. Managements’ neglect of the desire for growth within the workplace can have major repercussions for your business. 

Increase Employee Recognition

In line with focusing on present actions, your business needs to commit to promptly recognizing achievements and best practices, and publicly showcase demonstrated right attitudes and values. This helps your employees to feel valued and increases the sense of community and belonging within the workplace, which in turn boosts employee engagement. 

Revamp Company Culture

Agile performance management should be accompanied by a more agile company culture and working environment. Overhaul tired old culture by encouraging innovation, new processes, risk-taking, autonomy, flexibility, questioning, integrity, persistence, creativity and accountability within your workforce. Doing so will allow your business to maximize employee potential and get the most out of your employees. 

Tools to Support Agile Workflows and Performance Management

The key to good agile performance management is good tools. A variety of tools are available to help support agile working environments and performance management. Leverage tools like platforms for employee recognition, employee productivity tracking software, intranet and communication platforms, and other workplace monitoring tools.

Read on to discover how the tools below can help your business make the move towards a more agile performance management system.

  1. Support more agile performance management with Totara Perform. Totara Perform is an agile performance management system that will empower you to: increase engagement by aligning employees with company goals; enhance workforce productivity with regular check-ins, continuous feedback and employee performance reviews; adapt your performance management process around your organization.

  2. Stay connected and collaborative with Jostle. Jostle is a cloud-based simple intranet solution; the next-generation intranet that improves employee engagement and internal communications. Jostle connects remote workers with the rest of their organization, whether they're working from home, at a coffee shop, or out in the field. Jostle was specifically designed to help businesses build a positive company culture and boost employee engagement.

  3. Get continuous feedback with 15Five Continuous Performance Management software. 15Five Continuous Performance Management software is a complete performance management platform that creates effective managers, highly engaged employees, and top-performing organizations. The idea behind the platform is simple - employees take 15 minutes to answer a survey from their managers, and managers need five minutes to review.

  4. Increase employee recognition with Awardco. Awardco is designed to help businesses achieve better employee engagement through rewarding recognition. Awardco is built for optimization, customization, automation and all the other great -ations you need for a solid employee rewards and recognition program.

  5. Get performance insights with Insightful. Insightful has a variety of features which can help boost employee engagement and productivity. Useful as employee work tracking software for remote employees and employers, Insightful is so much more than simple worker monitoring software. Insightful empowers employers and employees to understand what enables them to do great work - whether in the office, remote, or hybrid. 

Insightful helps boost performance by improving workflows and allowing teams to create more efficient processes and foster productivity. This enables employers to provide a more autonomous, flexible, and agile company culture and track performance in real time.

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