by Cornerstone OnDemand
24 Jan 2020
Thinking About Making the Switch to Continuous Performance Management?
These four commonly asked questions always pop up when companies are curious about how to implement continuous performance management.
Continuous performance management isn’t a new idea—and in many cases, it’s proven to be far more effective and useful than its more traditional (and dare we say, outdated) counterpart, the annual performance review. And although many teams understand the long-term value of continuous performance management, there still seems to be a pretty big gap between embracing it as a valuable HR concept and actually putting it into practice. But after 20 years of helping companies adopt better and more strategic approaches to performance management, we’ve learned a thing or two about why companies struggle to get onboard.
All too often, when trying to convince companies why continuous performance management is the way to go, we hear a lot of questions as to why it may not be feasible or a practical solution to implement. The truth is, once implemented using the right tools and solutions, most companies ask themselves why they didn’t jump on the continuous performance management bandwagon sooner. So, to help you overcome your own fears, concerns, or worries, we’ve compiled a list of the four most commonly asked questions we hear—along with our answers to each about why continuous performance management is really nothing to fear at all. (And if you hear yourself in any of these questions, just no that you’re not alone. We’re here to get you over the hurdle!) So, without further ado, let’s dive right in.
How can performance ratings and continuous performance management work together hand-in-hand?
The easy answer: they work together incredibly well. In fact, continuous performance management can help make performance ratings more accurate, relevant, and meaningful; in other words, it can add qualitative substance to a more quantitative assessment.
A big part of continuous performance management are check-in conversations. These aren’t about ratings or making assessments. Rather, these take a pulse on how employees are doing, developing, and growing. It’s an opportunity to talk about goals and identify any roadblocks that stand in the way of achieving them. For managers, this is a time to ask more “feeling”-oriented questions, like “What is your biggest challenge?” or “What are you saying ‘no’ to?” It’s less about tracking performance and more about helping employees reach their performance and development goals. (And if you’re connecting the dots, the more conversations like this you have to help your team achieve and surpass their goals, the easier it will be to give them glowing ratings once annual performance reviews roll around!)
Another reason why check-in conversations are powerful additions to the annual performance review and compensation process is because they help avoid the “recency effect,” whereby its becomes all too easy to remember only what an employee has done or achieved recently. This fails to paint a full picture of an employee’s performance across the entire year. Maintaining a record of ongoing check-in conversations, however, can empower managers to evaluate employee performance in a more holistic, rounded way.
How will managers have time for ongoing performance discussions?
Being a “manager” means exactly what it suggests: managing a team of direct reports. As author of Powerful, Patty McCord puts it, “A business leader’s job is to create great teams that do amazing work on time. That’s it. That’s the job of management.” The people who fill these roles need to be ready and willing to rise to the occasion. Managers who don’t make time for their teams are essentially failing to do the number one priority of their jobs.
So, if you’re asking yourself this question, it’s time to reevaluate priorities and ensure that managers are actually doing their jobs. It’s less a question about whether or not managers have time to implement continuous performance management into their day-to-day responsibilities and, quite frankly, more about carving out the time to do it. Performance management solutions, like Cornerstone Performance, can help streamline and guide the process. We even provide managers with coaching to ensure these conversations are worthwhile and create a positive lasting impact for both the manager and the employee.
How can we ensure these conversations are truly effective?
Perfect segue, right? Continuous performance management doesn’t follow the “if you build it, they will come” rule. Just because you weave it into your business’s HR operations doesn’t mean managers will be ready to embrace it with open arms. Nor will they necessarily have the required skills or training to create a positive impact on their teams.
That’s why training is the key to success here. Very few people in this world are born managers, just like nobody ever really comes out of the womb a bodybuilder. Let’s dive into this metaphor a bit more. Becoming a better, more effective manager is really no different than training regularly to achieve specific physical goals. For example, if your primary goal is to build muscles, the only way you’ll ever see positive results is to continue training and overcome physical plateaus over time. The process is essentially the same for managers: being effective at managing teams requires constant education and training.
The key word here is “constant.” As with almost everything else in life, becoming a great manager doesn’t typically happen overnight. It’s all about taking a long-game approach. Therefore, to help managers in their own growth and development journey, companies must invest in the right training and tools. Not only will ongoing training give managers the confidence to lead teams effectively, but having the right tools in place will also streamline processes and avoid the perceived time drain that goes along with being a “good” manager.
How are pay and promotion decisions made via continuous performance management?
Let’s come full circle and talk about ratings again—this time in the context of pay and promotion decisions, which, for all intents and purposes, needs to be an objective process. This is where performance ratings become absolutely critical. It’s impossible to justify or build a case around pay increases or promotions—at least, transparently—without quantitative data to support it.
This doesn’t mean that we simply have to think about employees as just numbers. But in the context of making these performance-related decisions, you must have an objective way to measure and compare one employee’s performance to another. Basing these decisions purely on qualitative information leaves too much room for bias.
Therefore, while continuous performance management can help managers evaluate and rate their employee’s performance more accurately, it’s important to separate performance evaluation conversations from compensation- or promotion-related conversations. This is one of those situations where you’ve got to put the “horse” (i.e. establishing annual performance ratings, powered by qualitative feedback gained from ongoing check-in conversations) before the “cart” (i.e. making decisions related to pay increases or promotions).
There’s no reason to push off continuous performance management
It’s very easy for these questions to become excuses for not implementing continuous performance management. However, as you can see, there’s no good reason for not doing so. Companies that build continuous performance management best practices into their day-to-day not only operate more efficiently overall but also create a culture that supports and nurtures happier, more productive, and more successful employees. In all honesty, the question you should be asking yourself now is: why haven’t we implemented continuous performance management sooner? (We agree!) There’s no better time than now to get started—and just know that we’re always here to help. Check out Cornerstone’s performance solutions today to learn more.