The Benefits of Continuous Performance Management [and Why You Need It]

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In the past year, business leaders had to learn how to manage a newly flexible, change-proof workforce. The key? A continuous performance management process that’s hands-on, dynamic, and drives employee engagement.

What is performance management?

Performance management is the way in which an organization identifies, measures, and develops employee, team, and organizational performance, and ties it all back to organizational goals and objectives.

In their article “Performance Management and Employee Engagement,” Alan Saks and Jamie Gruman state that a performance management process is the “Achilles’ heel” of a business. This process alone has the ability to either strengthen or weaken employee performance

This means, if your organization is a machine, performance management is the oil that keeps everything running smoothly. It’s an uninterrupted, consistent practice that includes goal-setting, performance reviews, and responses to that performance, like feedback and recognition.

Performance management ensures your organization — and everyone in it — thrives.

Without a structured performance management system, day-to-day work lacks meaning and productivity deteriorates. With it, employees feel valued, engaged, and inspired to deliver their best work, day in and day out. 

No time to read? Check out our video summary:

Why is performance management continuous?

Gallup reports that by prioritizing employee engagement, companies can see 22% higher profitability. That’s why human resources professionals have been tasked with creating employee engagement strategies for decades. 

And the key to continuous employee engagement? Continuous performance management. Here’s why:

1. With continuous performance management, feedback gets delivered in real-time — when it counts

When you give employees feedback on their performance only annually or quarterly, your talking points by necessity have to cover actions and behaviors that are months old. At that point, it’s far too late for the employee to effectively address any issues you raise. Instead, make performance management continuous with regular weekly 1-on-1s for a more dynamic, effective process.

(Nervous about 1-on-1s? Brush up with our Ultimate Guide to Effective 1-on-1s for Managers.)

2. Continuous performance management removes the fear of the traditional annual review

“Carrying an issue without resolution is like carrying debt,” the Harvard Business Review says of difficult-but-important conversations. “The longer you wait, the more interest you’ll pay in anxiety and dread.” This is the same psychological function at play in performance review anxiety, which plagues employees at companies of all sizes. When you make performance management continuous by having conversations year-round, you remove that sense of a looming, all-important conversation.

Learn more in our article:
How to Assess Your Performance Management Strategy

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3. Continuous performance management is key to creating a culture of growth — aka a feedback culture

As we explain in our guide, How to Create a Feedback Culture, when you make continuous performance conversations a way of life, feedback stops being scary. And when feedback stops being scary, the magic happens: It becomes easier to listen to. And, in turn, easier to give, receive, and grow from.

Technology has only made it easier to make your performance management continuous. Processes that used to be complex and time consuming — like creating and distributing surveys, or documenting and tracking progress on goals — are now simple. By outsourcing data collection and analysis to technology, leaders are freed up to focus on the people portion of performance management.

Which is great for business. Read on to learn why.

Benefits of continuous performance management

Let’s start with some numbers.

Gallup reports the cost of inadequate management (and concurrently, low productivity) in the U.S. costs between $960 billion and $1.2 trillion each year. But, when performance management is well-developed and well-managed, high-performing teams experience an average of:

  • 40% less employee turnover
  • 37% reduction in absenteeism
  • 48% fewer staff safety incidents

This translates into higher profitability (22%) and productivity (21%) for companies of well-managed, high-performing teams than their counterparts.

Or, look at it another way: According to  ATIIM, each disengaged employee costs a typical U.S. company an average of $1,250 per year.

That’s quite an investment. Are you making the most of it?

We’ll show you how.

Learn more in our article:
5 Steps to Change Your Performance Management Process

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6 key parts of continuous performance management

1. Regular 1-on-1s

Ongoing performance conversations are the heart of the review process. These are best implemented weekly or bi-weekly in the form of 1-to-1 conversations between an employee and their manager. The topic of conversation centers around the employee’s well-being, project updates, and any barriers or needs the employee is experiencing in regard to their work. 

Built on a foundation of weekly or bi-weekly 1-on-1s, employee reviews then become much more meaningful. In fact, employees who receive real-time feedback, through consistent performance conversations, are more than 400% as likely to state that their performance reviews led them to do better work and improve their skill set than those in workplaces lacking a feedback culture. 

2. Performance reviews and check-ins

Performance reviews, on the other hand, serve as standardized assessments of employee progress toward long-term goals and objectives, including working style, performance standards, workplace behavior, and areas of growth. As a result, performance check-ins provide data for potential performance improvement or career growth to both employees and their managers. 

By moving performance appraisals from an annual to a quarterly (or even monthly) rotation, companies are 1.5 times more likely to say these reviews actually reflect employee performance. That means no surprises at the end of the year, but a steady drip of coaching and celebrating wins.

Want to learn more? Check out our Ultimate Guide to Performance Reviews.

3. Recognition and rewards

Just as important as reviewing performance is responding to performance. When receiving feedback and recognition, 80% of employees say they feel driven to do better work. 

Fortunately, in this day and age, technology can help streamline the recognition element of performance management, too. By making it easy to give frequent recognition for the whole team to see, recognition platforms create a culture of appreciation and a more connected, high-performing workforce.

Learn more in our article: The Power of Recognition and Rewards.

4. Goals management

The importance of goal setting dates back to 1968, when goal-setting leader Edward Locke explained its importance: over 90% of the time, setting measurable, aspirational goals leads to higher performance than setting easy-to-meet, ambiguous goals. If you’re reading this, you’re probably familiar with SMART goals and OKRs. But are you using them to your team’s advantage?

To make goals the driving force behind your employee engagement efforts, first ensure each and every team member’s goals are aligned with the company’s. Then, fold goal management into each of the other elements of performance management: conversations, recognition, and feedback.

Learn more in our guide: How to Use Conversations, Feedback and Recognition with OKRs and Goals.

5. Feedback

Traditionally, feedback has been top-down. In other words, a higher-up providing employee performance feedback to someone lower on the totem pole. However, that approach doesn’t provide a full picture of an organization’s well-being. With 360 reviews, feedback travels up, down, and all around from each level of an organization to the other. Because after all, leaders need feedback too. 

With 360 feedback, a variety of perspectives allows each member of the organization to see a snapshot of their individual strengths, as well as where there’s room for improvement.

Learn more about giving feedback in our guide, Employee Feedback 101: Tips, Tricks, and Examples.

6. Incentives

Traditionally, incentives cover a wide range of perks, benefits, and rewards. In the context of continuous performance management and an integrated rewards program, incentives are additional rewards given to employees for performing behaviors that positively impact your organization.

In the Kazoo platform, you can create custom Incentives, allowing employees to earn points for performance and productivity behaviors like creating and completing goals, requesting feedback, and more. (Plus, health and wellness activities, safety trainings, and whatever your company deems a priority.) It’s a way of celebrating the small wins to ensure the big wins keep coming. Or… even more oil for your well-oiled machine.

Learn more about our continuous performance management tool offerings:

What to look for in performance management technology

Ready to turn performance management into a competitive advantage? Here’s how:

  1. Solution fit. Ensure the technology provider understands your unique needs, and is equipped to meet them.
  2. Innovative tools and resources. What does this software offer, and which features will most impact your team?
  3. Integrations and support. Don’t get caught with more problems than you had before. Make sure the platform you choose is easy to integrate with your existing technology, and comes with an excellent support system.

With cutting-edge performance management technology, you’re ready to drive your workplace forward. With a strategic performance management process, rest assured. You’ll be reaping the benefits of advanced employee engagement, productivity, and business results for years to come.

Managing performance with Kazoo

We hope this article helped you understand the power continuous performance management can have for your company. And if you like what you hear, maybe it’s time for us to talk.

Because at Kazoo, we’re passionate about bringing together all the tools you need to make work work better for everyone. That’s why the Kazoo Employee Experience Platform brings performance management and recognition and rewards — including Goals, Feedback, Conversations, Recognition, Incentives, and more — into one simple, easy-to-use platform.

If you’re ready to align, connect, and engage your workplace, check out our Kazoo overview. Or, schedule a personalized demo today.

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