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How to achieve efficient performance management ?

In a rapidly changing professional world, several variables need consideration for a company to function well. Therefore, it would be wrong to reduce the pursuit of performance to simply "chasing numbers", especially as the "carrot policy" no longer suffices for employees. While seeking efficiency is crucial and a company's economic health guarantees its survival, achieving this and improving performance involves considering employee fulfilment, rethinking management, and adapting approaches, all of which are as essential as they are interconnected. That's why the notion of performance management has become so widespread in companies. Yet, grasping its full extent is crucial.

How to define performance management? It's a comprehensive reflection on management within the company, influencing behaviours and practices. The core idea is that by supporting employees in their uniqueness towards performance, the entire organisation will achieve its goals and hence the sought-after performance. It's a participatory, attentive, and exchange-based management in a healthy environment – factors conducive to performance. Several new factors now define performance within a company: CSR criteria, well-being, stress management, team skill enhancement, etc., extending beyond purely economic and financial aspects. Moreover, performance management is interested in the work environment, designed for employees to enhance their productivity.

Performance management never stops !

Performance management is present at every stage of an employee's journey. First and foremost, from the onboarding phase. A crucial moment for both the company and the new employee, it's essential to create, as soon as possible, the feeling of being part of the collective and playing a key role within a system where personal efficiency contributes to overall performance. The role of the manager is pivotal from the arrival of this new employee, providing the tools for integration and nurturing the individual's desire to improve their skills, contributing to the company's long-term performance goals. This way, motivating future prospects (positions, responsibilities, training) inspires positive contributions to the company's performance. The more a newcomer feels supported, heard, integrated, the more they become a full-fledged member of the organisation.

But supporting doesn't mean controlling everything! Performance management involves giving significant freedom to teams, some refer to it as empowerment or autonomy. It's essentially about "trusting." There are several reasons for this. From the employees' perspective: it provides the feeling of personal growth since everyone finds opportunities to make decisions and organise their work contributing to the company provided it offers the means. Trust is the cornerstone of the relationship between the manager and the team. From a management standpoint: fulfilled, happy, and motivated employees are loyal, finding meaning in their actions within the organisation. Through clear, regular communication of set and understood goals, managers avoid tensions and pressures, fostering overall productivity.

If a manager encounters an employee who is less productive at a given moment, it can be seen as something other than a failure. Skill development takes time and will yield results in the long run. Most importantly, allowing room for mistakes is a key characteristic of performance management. Making mistakes offers learning opportunities for the employee and often represents a significant step in performance management due to the lessons learned. Accepting the right to make mistakes acknowledges that humans aren't machines, and that "non-performance" can lead to a new path towards better performance, enriching the employee's experience and often the manager's too.

Performance tools: evaluations, indicators, and clear objectives !

Performance management seeks to create conditions for employees' fulfilment so they can express their talent and give their best. The art of good performance management is to align individual and company objectives, the manager's trust in their teams to achieve them, and employees' progress in a guided manner, fostering motivation and satisfaction. This is how performance management provides the foundation for continuous progress and constant improvement.

To witness progress and be part of this improvement dynamic, employees must receive clear objectives from their managers beforehand and know the criteria on which they'll be evaluated. These criteria can be defined within the team, further enhancing employee participation and engagement within the company. Nothing is more reassuring and enriching than knowing what to improve upon, understanding the criteria, and evaluation conditions (especially the evaluation grid, detailed and updated job descriptions, etc.). Displayed performance measurement, based on previously shared criteria, also helps managers guide their teams better, intervening when necessary. Clear and precise objectives and evaluations are prerequisites for empowerment, self-training, and self-correction. Equally important in this management style is team feedback, redirecting performance strategies and readjusting goals if needed. This feedback offers the opportunity to discuss with a struggling employee, adapt to unforeseen events, a complex context, or conversely, to accelerate. While the manager sets the objectives, they cannot do so without considering the ground reality. Setting unattainable goals leads to disappointment, disengagement, or even overflow, potentially causing some employees to resign – counterproductive for the manager aiming for organisational optimisation. Therefore, the manager must instil confidence, support, and advise their teams to improve efficiency and productivity. Hence, the importance of feedback, regular sharing and communication, sensing the pulse of the teams – vital components of performance management.

Communication, an essential basis for performance management

Practices differ across organisations. Some advocate for weekly meetings between managers and employees, while others believe there shouldn’t be set times but rather open, regular discussions and frequent feedback to modify or reinforce actions or strategies as needed. The frequency doesn't matter as long as feedback is possible. The establishment of regular performance or development interviews can also be part of performance management. Realising that the annual review alone isn’t sufficient for effective evaluation, follow-up, or adjustment of individual goals in the pursuit of performance. Managers stand to gain from regular feedback to be responsive themselves, managing both short and long-term objectives. Being a good communicator is one of their missions, creating a healthy, close relationship with team members, showing consideration and recognition.

Some tools provided to employees (internal documents, shared platforms) facilitate the exchange and sharing of useful information in achieving objectives. Overall, the goal is to create a pleasant environment that stimulates employees' motivation, their satisfaction, and ultimately their performance. They can feel empowered by this support conducive to developing qualities like creativity, autonomy, audacity, and engaging in a continuous skills enhancement beneficial in the short or long term for the company.

Enhanced skills development within a quality framework

Stepping back, gaining perspective, feedback is an opportunity to identify errors, correct the course, and ultimately enhance skills. Mistakes become a source of learning, provided the manager adopts a coaching approach. This virtuous cycle is even stronger when employees engage in meaningful work, where they reconnect with their values, further increasing their motivation and long-term efficiency. Professional skill development, action plans set by managers, and training sessions are levers in the hands of leaders who listen to their teams' feedback.

It is indeed the manager's task to create these success-friendly conditions for productivity, allowing teams to unleash their talents, potential, and thrive. These favourable conditions contribute to employer branding and recruitment efforts to attract new talents. Employee fulfilment and professional satisfaction are essential components of performance management. Conversely, dissatisfaction and demotivation significantly impact productivity and overall performance. This is why we advocate that performance management should create a "quality" work environment and require continuous support so that employees can give their best, allowing everyone—employees, managers, and the company—to progress together.

Whether it's team commitment, skills enhancement, loyalty, or integration, these concepts have disseminated in the current workplace. They have led to an interest in performance management to align individual, team, and strategic goals of the company. In this sense, performance management closely resembles team sports, where the coach, like a manager, seeks the team's performance and victory. They create all the conditions for their team to be in top form. Similar to an organisational setup within a company where managers and employees work to succeed and adopt a progression approach. Likewise, all team members should be listened to, assisted, corrected, and trained. By defining action plans, the manager leads a strategic game where each member finds their place. The employee takes on responsibility, shows initiative, and even corrects their own mistakes. Feedback benefits both parties, allowing for quick reactions and adjustments to objectives if necessary. Performance management creates a caring organisation with multiple favourable outcomes, in both the short and long term.



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