Successful Performance Management Is More Than Just An Annual Review

A growing number of companies are revisiting how they manage the traditional annual performance review in favour of recording progress that dispenses with the need to subjectively rate an employee at the end of the year. SuccessFactors Continuous Performance Management (CPM), provides that opportunity comprising regular check-ins that have a proven beneficial effect on employee engagement and productivity.

In my experience, employees value continuous feedback much more than one annualised review. They appreciate the feedback from their managers or peers after every project, assignment and task they have completed. This doesn’t have to be done in face to face meetings, they can use the functionality of the many systems currently available in the market, with SuccessFactors Continuous Performance Management being one of them. CPM allows managers to communicate with employees on the progress of pending activities, provide instant feedback on completed tasks, as well as share coaching advice.

Once-a-year performance reviews seem to offer little tangible value to either employers or their employees. Performance feedback should be more frequent and not treated as a ‘nod to compliance’ or a ‘tick-box’ exercise. By eliminating the traditional performance review process, your talent is receiving more meaningful feedback and is more motivated to achieve their goals. It is fresh in everyone’s mind and avoids those “writer’s block” situations when having to be asked to write something because you have to rather than because you want to.

I’ve been fortunate enough to work with two businesses who adopted this approach.

Case Study One: Implementing a continuous performance management strategy

During this project, I saw for myself the extent to which a business can mature during a period of implementation. After carrying out an initial workshop and iteration playbacks with our client it was clear how continuous performance management would feed into and improve their overall performance management strategy.

The key highlights of our solution, which were critical to the success of the process, included:

Providing clear goal setting and updates

Clear goal setting is a crucial part of successful continuous performance management. Managers must prioritise what needs to be achieved, but employee buy-in will ensure they are motivated.

Goals should also be put in context. Employees are searching for meaningful work. They want to clearly understand how their achievements contribute to the ‘bigger picture’ within your business and receive realistic and constructive feedback. Providing your feedback within that context leads to better PR and more engaged and productive employees.

The SAP SuccessFactors ‘Continuous Performance Management’ solution ensures:

  • Goals are easily created in your Goal Plan, permitting the creation of activities related to these goals within a continuous performance management section. This displays two screens, highlighting activity and achievements, ensuring clarity and visibility for managers and their employees.
  • Employees and managers can easily add comments, provide progress updates or create additional activities and achievements.
  • The system is quick and intuitive to use.
  • Numerical rankings are not required. SAP SuccessFactors Continuous Performance Management solution is also built in such a way that you don’t need to complete a lengthy form or rank your employees on a scale of 1 to 5.

Flexible coaching anytime through a tablet or mobile device

Working in a plant environment can make regular check-ins difficult to maintain. SuccessFactors solution allows goals, activities and achievement to be created through a tablet or mobile device when computer access is not possible. Managers are able to communicate constantly with their teams and offer continued coaching on their strengths, while ensuring support in areas where employees are underperforming. Discussions and achievements are captured and provided via an on-screen snapshot where all 1-2-1s and coaching conversations are easily recorded. This is advantageous over the traditional annual performance cycle where a scramble usually takes place to not only remember what you have achieved but how you evidence those achievements.

For the plant managers themselves, mobile access was invaluable to boost engagement, allowing them to check-in, post updates and create goals and activities on the move. All reviews are carried out online, eliminating the need for an extensive paper trail.

Adopting a collaborative approach

Performance reviews don’t happen in isolation. Employees work with a variety of different departments and colleagues who can participate in providing feedback, reducing the need for managers to always be involved in check-ins. All participants are able to enter updates or raise issues as they arise. By simply clicking on the name of a team member, managers can review individual progress at any time and respond quickly to enquiries.

Case Study Two: Enhancing an existing system

Implementation of an entire performance management solution is not always essential. In this example, our client required an enhancement of their existing system to create a more flexible performance management strategy. Discussions centred on HR processes, activities and timelines rather than configuration.

Topics included how we request feedback, allocate responsibility and define and implement coaching, focusing on goals rather than what rating is given and why that rating has been given.

The project was framed within four questions:

  • What is the activity?
  • What is the achievement?
  • Are goals still relevant in this framework?
  • Are goals realistic in how we communicate?

Initially, enhancements were implemented for use with a specific group of remote workers to take advantage of the mobile accessibility of our CPM solution. The process was rapid and uncomplicated, providing instant visibility relating to goals, activities and achievements. The CPM was easily integrated with other functionalities related to the performance management process.

A responsive approach to feedback

Technology continues to disrupt HR processes, requiring a fluid, flexible approach to maintain and enhance engagement with the talent in your organisation. SuccessFactors has adopted a consultative approach in the development of its CPM solution, regularly seeking feedback and suggestions from our clients and users of the system on a daily basis. Quarterly updates are delivered seamlessly through the cloud.

CPM is easily integrated with other HR solutions, driving engagement and providing better workforce analytics ensuring your employees are regarded as more than just a number.

If you are interested in learning more about “Continuous Performance Management” Join me, Alan Lau on my upcoming webinar Embracing Performance Management in a Digital Age”

This webinar will provide attendees with invaluable insights into how performance management has changed, and how many organisations have chosen to adopt the EEM and move to continuous development and engagement, rather than mundane once-a-year appraisals. The event will also provide attendees with a ‘real life’ experiences of implementing the SAP SuccessFactors Continuous Performance solution, with the benefits that can be derived from its deployment – in addition to the potential pitfalls to avoid.

View more and register here.

Alan is an experienced HR consultant with over 15 years of experience in the field of SAP/SuccessFactors. He has specialised in HR from an internal organisational perspective and by providing guidance and advice to clients who choose to implement SAP SuccessFactors. He has worked on multiple SAP SuccessFactors projects with modular expertise in Performance and Goal Management, Employee Central, Compensation and Career Development and Succession Planning.

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