Performance Management Still Needs Work in Most Organizations

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ATD study finds that managers and employees lack the time to participate in the performance improvement process.

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“The real issue is that we’ve got a different workforce that has a different set of needs. We can’t keep managing the way that we’ve always been managing.” — Wade Larson, chief human resources officer at Wagstaff.

When it comes to performance management, many organizations are in a state of flux.

According to the Association for Talent Development research report Performance Management: Driving Organizational and Personal Growth, sponsored by Schoox, only 44 percent of survey respondents felt their organization’s performance improvement process was highly effective in evaluating performance. Just 24 percent of respondents felt their performance improvement process was highly effective in incentivizing performance.

“The real issue is that we’ve got a different workforce that has a different set of needs,” says Wade Larson, chief human resources officer at Wagstaff. “We can’t keep managing the way that we’ve always been managing.”

This is especially crucial when employees are working remotely. If employees are not physically in the office, it is important for managers to set specific performance measures so virtual employees can receive open and honest feedback on the work they are producing, according to authors Ben Bisbee and Kathy Wisniewski in The Unashamed Guide to Virtual Management.

The top barrier to effective performance management was the struggle that managers and employees had in finding enough time to fully participate in the process.

“When managers say they don’t have time for a discussion, I understand that they may not have time to sit in front of a computer and jot down responses on a form,” says Mark Dunn, vice president of organization and leadership development at Vidant Health. “But we can help them understand that any time a manager is sitting with an employee, they have an opportunity to say, ‘Job well done,’ ‘Here’s how you could do this even better,’ or ‘How can I support you?’ Those three things are performance management. It’s just about how we capture that along the way.”

Some key findings of the report include:

  •     While it was most common for managers and employees to have input in setting an employee’s goals, top-performing organizations were significantly more likely than all other organizations to give talent development input as well—a practice just 8 percent of organizations overall currently do.
  •     Managers and employees at top-performing organizations were significantly more likely to have performance conversations (outside of formal performance evaluations) quarterly or more frequently.
  •     Among methods for addressing performance that does not meet expectations, coaching and training were the only methods that had a significant association with top-performing organizations.

“Managers should be spending a third of their time working on behalf of their people: having conversations with employees, working on problems, facilitating resources, and working on the success of their employees,” Larson said. “That’s where performance management comes in—helping their employees set the right goals and helping them be successful.”

About ATD
The Association for Talent Development (ATD) is the world’s largest professional membership organization supporting those who develop the knowledge and skills of employees, improve performance, and help to achieve results for the organizations they serve. Established in 1943, the association was previously known as the American Society for Training & Development (ASTD).

ATD’s members come from more than 120 countries and work in public and private organizations in every industry sector. ATD supports talent development professionals who gather locally in volunteer-led U.S. chapters and international member networks and with international strategic partners.

For more information, visit td.org.

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