It's no surprise that the business world is changing. And we have to change along with it. Case in point: performance management. An increasing number of organizations are moving toward eliminating the annual performance review.
But before completely doing away with a significant component of the overall performance management process, maybe it's time to consider making the process more adaptive. Eliminating and replacing processes can be time consuming and expensive, even before considering the impact such a big change has on the workplace.
By comparison, adaptation, which is defined as the process of changing to fit some other purpose or situation, could be a more resource-effective solution. In fact, maybe it's time for all human resources policies to have an adaptive quality to them because the business world is going to continue to evolve. For now, let's focus on performance management. Here are five steps to consider when creating an adaptive process:
1. Establish the purpose of performance management in your organization.
Don't make the assumption that everyone in the organization knows the reason the current performance management process exists. There might be multiple reasons. Establish a list of the reasons the organization has a performance management process, even the ones that appear obvious like compliance or employee engagement.
Organizations can't create an adaptive process if they don't understand the pieces of the process that can and cannot be adapted.
2. Discuss the goals for performance management.
Once the current process has been defined, discuss what the future goals of the performance management process should be. We don't always like to admit it, but it's possible that goals are forgotten over time. Allow every goal a chance to be debated and agreed upon.
This step in the process gives the organization a chance to get everyone on the same page. Buy-in is key to creating an adaptive process.
3. Take an appreciative inquiry approach to bridging the gap.
Appreciative inquiry is a change model that focuses on moving forward in a positive direction. Some models work from a position of deficiency, meaning they start with what's wrong or what needs to be fixed. Because performance management has become a polarizing topic, it could make some sense to use a different approach.
With appreciative inquiry, the conversation is about using organizational strengths to achieve the goals agreed upon for performance management.
4. Determine the metrics for success.
There are several reasons to have a performance management process. The biggest one is business success. For each performance management goal, there should be a direct link to a business goal. Technology can help organizations record goals, measure progress and ensure that employee goals cascade properly.
Performance management is about results. The process works when there's a clear connection between performance and outcomes.
5. Create a review process for future adaptations.
The process of adaptation isn't a one-time activity. Organizations need to have a mechanism in place to constantly review the process and make adjustments when necessary. It could be at a set time each year, like during the budget process. And it doesn't need to be lengthy. The review is simply to ensure that the process is still on track.
Even the best policies need updating. A regular review process can keep policies relevant and valuable for everyone.
It's true that the performance management process needs to be brought into the modern workplace. For many organizations, the process hasn't changed in a long time. But updating the process and eliminating the process are two totally different things. Organizations could realize a huge benefit from making the process more adaptive to their culture and business needs.