There has been a shift in how organizations think about performance management. You can see it in headlines like these…
That said, progress has not been linear and you may also have seen headlines like these…
So where does that leave us? What is Modern Performance Management?
It’s An Approach Not A Process
In the early stages it looked as if modern performance management would coalesce around a set of best practices, like quarterly conversations, weekly 1-on-1s, or continuous feedback frameworks. But this didn’t happen.
Organizations went in many different directions and most of the bold claims about the end of rankings, ratings, annual reviews and other elements of “traditional” performance management haven’t come to fruition.
Today, years into the performance management revolution we find ourselves in a middle ground. Organizations continue to improve their processes, but they are doing so with a mix of new and old practices.
It turns out there is no performance management panacea. What defines performance management as “modern” is not your process, but your approach.
1. Modern performance management is about starting with your organization’s needs and the needs of your workforce, then building a custom strategy that serves those needs.
That means no more over-stuffed annual reviews that are a big waste of time, but it also means you shouldn’t necessarily take Adobe’s strategy off the shelf and apply it to your organization.
2. Modern performance management is about creating a strategic business operation rather than fulfilling a year-end compliance requirement.
If you are analyzing the needs of your organization and then building up a strategy that drives results for your organization, that’s modern performance management.
Ok, that is a little abstract, so we’ve also compiled a list of themes that help define modern performance management.
Characteristics Of Modern Performance Management
Here are some of the changes we often see when organizations transition to modern performance management. These aren’t all requirements, even pursuing one or two of these changes is sufficient.
Digital tools are enabling the transformation. More feedback, more data, more transparency are only possible because they can be achieved with a light tough through technology. Before adding complexity to their processes, organizations are streamlining them through technology. Ultimately performance management needs to be layered on top of the real work of the organization, so it can’t be cumbersome or time consuming.
Traditional strategies focused primarily on rewarding top performers and eliminating under-performers. While that is still a part of modern systems, the focus has shifted to include development. We wrote about this idea here - Accountability vs Growth: Choose a side (or don't).
You can’t talk about modern performance management without talking about increased frequency of feedback. Whether it’s quarterly check-ins, weekly one-on-ones, or continuous feedback, more feedback is what it’s all about.
Traditional performance management tended to give everyone individual ratings which did not always incentivize teamwork. Today organizations want to know not only how well you work alone, but how you build up a team.
We live in a more dynamic world and organizations want to reward employees who have the flexibility to adapt and perform as an organization evolves. Modern strategies reward both tactical performance and adaptive performance. Read more about that here - Tactical Performance vs. Adaptive Performance: Why You Need Both.
Unfortunately traditional performance management is filled with bias. Modern performance management seeks to even the playing field and get to a better understanding of actual performance. It’s no longer just about your manager’s opinion of you for one week a year. Read - The Biases You Must Remove from Your Performance Reviews.
Finally, modern performance management still embraces data. Even after an initial rejection of ratings and rankings, many organizations are looking for smarter ways to bring data back into their process in order to inform career planning, hiring, and other business decisions. Data gets smarter with better questions, like how Deloitte reframed their review questions to focus on things a manager is a better judge off.
Creating Your Own Process
If you’re ready to embrace a modern performance management strategy, don’t be intimidated by all your options. The right strategy is simply what’s right for your organization right now.
For many organizations the best first step is to streamline their existing process. A well run process that doesn’t waste employee’s time will go a long way as you continue to build out the rest of your strategy. If you’re interested in learning more about how PerformYard software streamlines modern performance management get a demo here.
If you want to learn more about creating your own modern performance management strategy, read our guide