Best Practices for Achieving Talent Success Maturity

Performance Management: Moving Toward a Forward-looking Review Process

Performance management is the processes and standards by which your employees are reviewed to determine — at the least — how they performed over a defined period. But performance management has the potential to do a lot more for your business. As your organization’s use of performance reviews matures, performance management becomes a predictive tool used for forecasting candidates’ performance, aligning performance with business and job goals, managing talent for current and future needs, and boosting individual performance.

Step by Step, From Paper-based, Traditional Performance Management to an Automated, Predictive Model

Performance management remains a backward-looking process in most organizations, exemplified by the annual review used by as many as 90 percent of U.S. companies. Although these reviews form the backbone of many companies’ compensation planning and development strategies, substantial research and employee surveys agree that these time-consuming processes fail to measure performance accurately or guide employees on how to improve.

This makes performance management disheartening for employees and frustrating for managers. It also isn’t built with a strategy that aligns with the company values and vision. To take performance management from being just one more compliance issue to a system that drives strategic organizational success, you will rely heavily on best practices, solid guidance, and performance management software.  Which is exactly what’s happening in the world of performance management today. It’s going through some huge changes. Employers are starting to look at the whole system in a different light. It’s no longer seen as a checkbox item, but rather a viable and integral part of driving organizational success. 

Before implementing Level 1 best practices or their equivalents for Talent Success, your organization is relying entirely on the abilities, knowledge, and capacity of individual HR practitioners and managers to perform reviews and manage the review process (if there is a process). This system — or lack of one — exposes the company to an uncertain and potentially large compliance risk, increases turnover compared with better-managed peer companies, and impedes strategic plans because of the lack of effective operational controls.

The Talent Success Maturity Model is a framework that enables HR and talent management leaders to benchmark their organizations and design and follow a path toward recruiting and retaining more A-players to become a more competitive, more engaging, and more successful company. Learn more about the Talent Success Maturity Model.

As your performance management processes and practices mature, you move to automation — implementing an online solution and developing the minimal infrastructure necessary to further refine and enhance your processes and practices. Automating your performance management system sets the stage to be able to take successful pilot performance management programs (maybe implementing 360 reviews) and scale them across the organization. Automation also makes it possible to generate, gather, and analyze performance review data.

Once these foundations have been laid, you can use performance reviews to accurately identify your A-players and engineer your talent management processes to recruit, retain, and develop more of them. At this level, you’re applying best practices to increase the strategic value of performance reviews, compared with simply achieving incremental and after-the-fact changes in individual performance.

At the highest level of Talent Success, your performance management system becomes a strategic tool that helps you to fix problems before they prevent individual employees or teams from accomplishing key objectives. Performance and learning systems work together to identify goal and competency gaps and apply specific learning paths and content resources to close them before they impede your CEO’s goals.

Building a Library of Performance Assets

Many organizations implementing an online performance review system fall into one of two groups. They’re either starting from scratch and have no standardized company-wide review process or forms, or they can use the initiative as an opportunity to start fresh with professionally designed assets and re-evaluated processes.

Assets might include:

  • The annual performance review
    One or more templates or template blocks that can be combined to build a complete annual review. You might want to have at least two primary templates: one for regular employees, and a second for managerial staff. Reviews may be performed company-wide, either concurrently or on a rolling basis.

  • Check-in reviews
    Some companies will perform reviews on a quarterly, monthly, or biannual basis, in addition to annual reviews.

  • 360 reviews
    Often used for managers, high-potential employees or A-players, or other special subsets of employees.

  • Feedback and coaching
    A growing number of companies are pushing for managers to give team members frequent (weekly or twice-monthly) targeted feedback and coaching, in addition to (or in some cases even instead of) traditional annual reviews. The asset here is more an educational/guidance tool for managers to use.

This chapter offers articles for best practices to help any company build a repeatable, effective onboarding process. For example:

Easy-to-use Employee Performance Review with Competencies

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Easy-to-use Managerial Performance Review with Competencies

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Easy-to-use Manager 360 Performance Review

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Don’t Risk It! Checklist for Nondiscrimination Compliance in Performance Assessments

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The 9-box

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