You Want to Improve Productivity? Start With the Performance Management Process!

You Want to Improve Productivity? Start With the Performance Management Process!

Recent Research on Employee Engagement and Motivation indicates that on average only 50% of employees receive regular, timely feedback to help them improve their performance – and less than half believe that their manager deals promptly with poor performance within their team. Further analysis reveals that various factors undermine productivity improvements, but key ‘problem areas’ include:

* Insufficient focus on the importance of building trust based relationships – and the type of conversations required to build genuine commitment

* An over reliance on ‘systems and processes’ to manage performance

* Failure to equip managers with the practical leadership skills required to create a work climate where performance can flourish

* Poor understanding of individual motivation – or how best to build commitment, encourage accountability and get real ‘leverage’ of performance

The study suggests that organizations need reliable diagnostic tools to identify the specific issues they need to address. Sound analysis, based on a clear model, is a vital start point in identifying the steps required to improve productivity. This information provides insight into how performance management can be strengthened – and the actions that will have the greatest impact on motivation and commitment. The research suggests that the factors that help create and sustain high performance are linked to the ‘dialogue and trust’ established between managers and their direct reports. Four key areas are identified, which can be summarised as follows: (1) Creating Direction & Meaning (2) Building Capability & Support for Learning (3) Encouraging Autonomy, & (4) Stimulating Engagement / Trust.

To monitor and strengthen positive relationships, the findings suggest that organizations need to obtain employee feedback at two levels. At a broad level, there is value in running a web-based survey. This provides analysis of key factors that create the “enabling environment” required for productivity improvement. A well-designed survey will show how well the existing appraisal / performance management process is truly adding value. Results can be analysed by different demographic groups to identify areas of ‘good practice’ and clarify the best follow-up intervention.

At a more specific level, it is evident that managers can benefit from open and honest feedback from team members. An online 180A� feedback tool, completed by managers and their direct reports, is particularly effective in assessing communication issues. This study suggests that 180A� feedback will provide managers with insights relating to the work relationship they have with their direct reports – and factors that may require attention. Perhaps most significant are the ‘purposeful conversations’ that build trust and strengthen performance.

However, organizations need to gauge their readiness to adopt more open feedback processes. Careful preparation, including additional training for managers, is often required in order to gain commitment. That said, effective 180/360 degree feedback systems do allow team members to either remain anonymous or choose to be identified (to facilitate more meaningful discussions). Wider, in-depth group reports, i.e. reports based on groups of managers, are also an option. These can help the organization identify more generic development requirements, which might feature in subsequent leadership training.

Understanding and applying leadership research is no longer an academic exercise. It is central to Productivity Improvement and raises numerous questions about conventional performance management processes. This study suggest that feedback, based on key factors affecting employee motivation, provides an important reference point in helping managers develop the skills that turn them into effective leaders.

Note: Study based on survey data collected by Pario HR Solutions