Performance Management Tools and Techniques to Motivate Employees

When you hear performance management you probably think reviewing your employees based on their output at work. Or measuring an entire department’s projected goals against what has actually been achieved. While this is true, performance management can be so much more and really should be the core of growing your business.

Great employees often leave organizations due to circumstances besides money. One of these factors is appreciation. In fact happy employees are 12 percent more productive than disgruntled ones. So it’s vital to use the best performances management tools and techniques to motivate and coach your employees. Taking the time to grow and recognize your staff will go a long way to achieving their goals and those of the company.

But what tools should you use? What is the best direction for your company? We’ve taken some time to compile a comprehensive list of performance management tools, techniques, and processes to fine-tune your process. Here is our list of the ones to take note of.

Hire a coach

Many times when evaluating an employee, the focus is on what’s going wrong. Instead of focusing on the negative, switch gears and look at how to strengthen your employees over time. One of the best performance management tools for doing this is hiring a coach.

Executive coaches can add value both for the employee and for the organization. Coaches can determine what training employees need to sharpen their skill sets. Employees in return feel more motivated and empowered with their new training. This translates to less employee turnover and more revenue for the company.

Plus, executive coaching does not need to be done in person either. Several companies offer virtual coaching through a learning management system. Employees can log on and receive automated coaching tools, have a coach assigned to them or receive links to coaching techniques tailored to them.

Define goals

When sitting down and judging company performance, most likely you will look at goals being met versus missed. Sometimes failing to meet these goals either on a company-wide basis or on an individual level come down to poor goal setting from the start.

It’s important to set goals that are achievable and measurable to ensure successful performance management. One way to set your company up for success is to use Goal Setting: A Motivational Technique That Works by Edwin A. Locke and Gary P. Latham. The seven steps include:

  • Specify tasks and results

Outline what tasks each employee is responsible for in your organization. Make sure these tasks can be tied to actual company results.

  • Set targets

Set targeted goals that are achievable, but are not easy to achieve. These clear goals will motivate team members to produce higher levels of performance.

  • Determine measures

Use clearly defined measures such as quality, quantity, cost, timeliness, and frequency of completion. And make sure all levels of your staff understand these in order for successful performance management.

  • Create timelines

All employees need to understand when their goals are to be achieved by.

  • Prioritize goals

You may have several goals for your organization and maybe for teams of employees as well. Rank each goal in order of importance and make sure every staff member understands the order of importance.

  • Determine goal performance

Once you have your set of goals in place, make sure employees understand the methods for evaluation. How will you determine if a certain employee met these goals or an entire department? Communication is key.

  • Coordinate efforts

Every employee needs to understand how they are part of the bigger picture. Let your employees know what their individual responsibility is in achieving each goal. This is especially vital if it takes a team of employees to achieve certain complex goals.

Talent management system

Everything in technology is becoming more integrated these days. This includes performance management software. There is a shift from using separate systems for recruiting, onboarding, training, performance management, and learning and development. Instead, companies are moving toward integrated talent management systems.

What is a talent management system?

A talent management system keeps track of the talent or your employees within your company. This includes current employees and those in the hiring and recruiting process. The best systems will keep data on employees and throughout their time at your company. This data gathered will help you better hire top talent and keep valuable team members longer.

What are the key benefits?

Besides just relying on one system, there are a few other important benefits worth mentioning.

1. Keeps track of new hires

These systems can store potential new hires for an open job. And they can also store potential hires for possible new jobs in the future.

2. Used across multiple departments

While HR may be interested in the hiring process, different department heads may want to look at the talent management system to rate employee progress. For example, a sales manager could note a need for more training or a marketing manager could note possible promotions. The system acts as a checks and balances on what is working and what is not in terms of the staff.

Appreciation tools

Employees are motivated by things other than money. Often managers forget about this. Usually, appreciation and recognition rank fairly high on employees’ list as motivators. A great performance management tool is to incorporate appreciation software.

Appreciation software helps a company culture. And a good company culture leads to less turnover. How does it work? The software offers tangible motivators for key employee behavior. For example, this could be great customer service by a sales team member, valuable sharable content on the company blog by a marketing team member or sales goals exceeded by the sales department.

Managers can monitor and keep track of employee behaviors through these systems. Then, top performers can be rewarded when these benchmarks are met or exceeded. Appreciation software is super flexible and can be used daily to determine closed sales or yearly to determine things like bonuses. There are several systems to choose from in the appreciation software category. Check out G2 Crowd’s list of their top picks.

Feedback tools

While it’s part of the job to make sure goals are being met and your employees are productive, this goes both ways. Don’t forget to involve your employees in performance management. If someone is not meeting expectations, what is the reason? Is there a lack of training? Something personal going on outside of work? Or is this employee feeling undervalued? If you don’t check in with your employees periodically, this leads to problems. So it’s crucial you use some sort of employee feedback as one of your project management tools.

Feedback tools keep lines of communication open and employees feel free to give honest opinions. It also helps set expectations from the beginning. HR can use this open culture as a way to differentiate your company from the competition. When you spend several hours at work, employees want to be happy and know that their voice will be heard. Using feedback tools is a way to organize this communication. It helps to track and keep feedback organized for analyzation.

Here is a list of the Hubspot’s top picks for feedback tools.

Time management apps

When you look at performance management, you need to look at every aspect that may slow down company productivity. One of these bottlenecks is often time management. Just think do you have a solid process for managing those 1,000 emails in your inbox or what about that unexpected meeting in the middle of your project deadline? Well your employees also experience this. Plus, some of your employees may work across different departments where every item on their “to do list” is marked high priority. Not to mention, some people are just naturally organized while others are not sure how to prioritize.

So it’s vital to provide some sort of time management app for your employees. While some time management apps are downloaded and run independently by each employee, others can be installed system-wide and coordinate all employees’ time.

Take, for example, HubStaff. This app can be installed to coordinate everyone’s time. Features include:

  • Tracking time per project

Managers can set the amount of time to be spent on each project per employee. Then employees know when they are going over the allotted time. This helps balance workload.

  • Activity rates

Supervisors or project leads can see how productive each team member is per project or overall. This helps identify when more training may be needed or when a certain employee may not work out in their current role.

  • Remote workers

Chances are you employ freelancers or contractors. And even if you don’t, your sales team may be traveling out of the office a lot or you have offices in different cities. The bottom line is you can’t walk over to these people and ask where a project stands. By having a central dashboard of everyone on a project, it’s easy to see where the project stands, who has outstanding tasks, and where a project is stalled.

One on one meetings

The saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” The issue is this does not work when it comes to performance management. Yes, you may think all your employees are performing well and deadlines are being met. But you never know when bottlenecks will arise or one of your key employees decides to leave the company unexpectedly.

So to head off problems before they start, it’s vital to schedule one on one meetings with each of your team members. The process is fairly simple.

1. Establish ground rules for meetings

Let employees know you will be scheduling these meetings at regular intervals throughout the year. Whether this is every month, every two weeks or some other time frame. That way employees are aware and can prepare any issues to discuss. It’s also important to emphasize this is just to see how everything is going for an employee. You don’t want them to feel they are being reprimanded.

2. Prepare for the meeting

It’s best to keep the meeting as informal as possible. You want your employees to feel free to discuss what’s on their mind. And vice versa. So there is no need for a lengthy agenda. Also, think about the best place to hold the meeting. Maybe instead of a formal setting like your office or a conference room, you go out for a cup of coffee.

3. Ask open-ended questions

Once you are in your meeting, instead of bringing up issues, ask a series of questions. This style of conversation will lead to answers quicker than bringing up problems. Plus, it won’t put the employee on the defense. Just like a therapist would, let the employees do most of the talking.

4. Employee take away from the meeting

When you walk away from a one on one meeting, it’s important your employee knows next steps. If there are issues that were unresolved, what actions need to be taken on their end? Also, what short term and long terms goals are in place for this employee? And, what is this employee’s personal development plan? You want to reestablish what training you will be providing to sharpen their skills.

5. Your take away from the meeting

When you send your employee away with some areas for improvement, make sure you are also looking at yourself. Could you have handled issues better? Is your management style helpful? Note what your employees said about their work environment. If there is room for improvement? If so, adjust how you handle situations.

What performance management tools are beneficial?

Performance management is the key to happy employees and meeting company-wide goals. The best way to ensure a successful implementation is to arm yourself with the best tools and techniques available today. We’ve given you several performance management tools and processes to help streamline and improve your process. When used correctly, technology, apps, and tools can simplify and help your company’s performance management.

But we know every company’s performance management needs are different. So what are your must-have performance management tools? If you’ve recently improved your company’s performance, what made the difference? Please let us know what worked best.

Kristy is a content writer for Continu and marketing freelancer. When she’s not working on her latest blog post, she enjoys tackling new recipes and destressing during yoga sculpt.