How Employee and Performance Development Bolster Your Company’s Success

How Employee and Performance Development Bolster Your Company’s Success

Performance goals, performance reviews, performance scores and skill training – all of this falls under the broad head of performance management. Strategies concerning performance management, how it’s done, and how it changes over time are referred to as “employee and performance development”. There’s a whole lot of HR work going on behind that phrase, including some unique challenges in how organizations manage their employees, and what employees want from their leaders over time. That can lead to tension: Gallup reports that employees’ top listed needs from their managers include job clarity and ongoing feedback

Two women coworkers collaborating using a tablet at a document-covered desk.

However, their research also shows that only 27% strongly agree that the feedback they receive helps them, and only 19% report that they’ve talked to a manager about steps to reach their goals.

What can HR do to bridge this disconnect? Let’s take a closer look at employee and performance development, along with some steps to improve it in your organization. 

Defining Employee Development and Performance Development

Performance development refers to an ongoing effort to set performance metrics, help employees understand their performance goals, continually train employees to improve their own skills, and give managers the tools they need to encourage performance. It’s a concept of many parts, with a wide variety of strategies, and it’s no surprise that human resources plays a core role in the process. 

The phrase may be expanded to employee and performance development, which indicates the importance of also focusing on employees’ own goals, how they want to progress in the company, and what talents they are interested in growing. Both sides – the goals of the employer and employee – are important when planning development.

We also mentioned the term performance management above, and you may be wondering if that’s the same thing. Not quite. Performance management is a more focused field that manages the nuts and bolts of how performance is measured. 

This includes choosing performance metrics, appraisals, and checklists, as well as deciding how performance reviews will occur, and what sort of communication should be required between managers and employees. The greater development strategy may encourage updates, revisions, and new methods for performance management. 

Positive Impacts of Employee and Performance Development

Let’s run through some key benefits of a strong performance development strategy.

Upskilling and growing employee talent: Well-planned performance development encourages employees to improve their skill sets and grow in the company. This helps internal promotion and general workplace satisfaction, and gives companies another feature to highlight when seeking out external talent. 

Outperforming competition: Aligning employee goals and company performance development can provide a significant benefit compared to competition. It helps with attracting top talent, improving retention rates, focusing on productivity, and many more benefits that help companies stand in contrast to their competitors. Performance development is a practical, internal method to increase market share.

Clarifying roles and expectations: Performance development helps to remove employee confusion about their roles, prevent task creep and burnout, and give employees targeted ways to meet expectations – and go beyond. New development strategies can also identify problems in this area that may have existed beforehand. 

Leaving behind outdated performance mechanics: Some types of performance reviews and measurements have aged poorly. Ongoing employee and performance development gives companies the opportunity to identify performance mechanics that don’t have the desired result or are having negative results, and replace them with methods that work better for both employees and management. 

Continual coaching for employees: Development encourages ongoing coaching, training, and feedback for employees, rather than intermittent reports that can be hard to interpret. This creates a more honest work environment and allows employees to grow at their own pace.

Defining appropriate accountability: Accountability is key in performance management, but not always defined well. Proper development helps define exactly what employees and managers are accountable for, which means problems can be more accurately identified, along with fewer “blame games” in the workplace.

How to Avoid Common Mistakes in Employee Development

Now we’ll review some tactics to sidestep possible employee development pitfalls.

  • Set strategic goals and outcomes early on. Employees often feel like they aren’t given clear guidelines for performance expectations. Organizations need to know exactly what they want in order to give employees clear instructions about it. 
  • Customize your training programs and performance management for your specific organization. Off-the-shelf training materials can be a good starting place, but every business should develop its own approach to performance. This allows HR to tailor programs to match the needs of employees, what performance metrics are most important to the organization, and similar important needs. 
  • Don’t be afraid to update and change tactics as time passes. That’s the key part of performance development – it’s always evolving. This gives HR leaders plenty of opportunities to gather feedback, talk to employees, and compare performance measures to real-world output. It’s not a good idea to let performance metrics get stale for too long, especially as the company grows and new requirements and employee expectations emerge. This evolution also ensures that organizations are getting a full look at performance from multiple perspectives to spot problems that aren’t always obvious in the beginning.
  • Make performance training and reviews enjoyable for employees. Employees may often dread the idea of companies measuring their performance, which has a number of unpleasant connotations and can sometimes be tied to their compensation or prospects for promotion. Work to develop a workplace where employees instead have input on their own performance, and don’t feel stifled by performance metrics. Train for performance with creative approaches that get everyone involved, and when possible, include mentorships so employees with hands-on experience can provide feedback. Experiential learning is important to help employees learn in healthy ways. 
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate. Employee and performance development works with both sides communicating clearly about performance, and listening to what the other says. Neither supervisors nor employees should assume that the other side “knows” something if they haven’t had a discussion about it. A lot of problems with performance can be addressed with clear conversations, and the freedom to ask questions about how and why performance is measured. In turn, company leaders should be willing to adjust performance management when necessary.

Tips for Effective Performance Development

Here are some steps to take that will help your performance development strategy succeed.

Know where the organization stands. Start with an audit of current performance metrics, surveys of how employees feel about performance and talent growth, and end goals for your performance development. As with many things in HR, you need to know where you are to know where you are going. 

Create built-in flexibility. This applies to many aspects of performance development, including how employees are evaluated, when their performance reviews occur, and how they train for performance goals. Not all employees work or learn in the same way, and flexibility also helps maintain a work-life balance. Make performance development changes flexible from the beginning, and employees will respond positively. 

Create a process to clearly define every position. This is right in HR’s wheelhouse. Performance issues often crop up when employees don’t really understand their role or their specific responsibilities. This also leads to task creep over time, which can create other problems. All positions in the organization should have clearly defined responsibilities and performance metrics. 

Create an exchange of feedback between employees and employers. Performance development thrives when employees and company leaders communicate easily. In addition to standbys like performance reviews and reports, organizations should have sessions of feedback to make sure both sides get a chance to talk – and listen. 

Clearly state how performance metrics are used. Organizations should be completely transparent about how performance measurements are used. That includes how they may affect bonuses, raises, promotions, and any other management decisions. Employees should be aware of just what performance metrics mean and how their future may be affected. 

Try to avoid annual appraisals. Annual appraisals aren’t very useful for any aspect of performance management. Instead, focus on continual management and feedback with the ability to have reviews or meetings whenever necessary. These continuous approaches help employees learn more, give managers more freedom, and generally encourage a smoother, more honest workplace. 

Your Next Steps With KnowledgeCity

These ideas are a helpful starting place when creating an employee and performance development plan of your own. To learn even more, KnowledgeCity has a variety of actionable online courses designed to teach important HR tools and inspire future decisions. 

Many of these courses, like the helpful Employee and Performance Development course, are designed to be easily viewed on the go and in multiple languages, so you can fit them into personal or group training no matter what your plans are. Take a look at our Learning Library to see what other kinds of performance and development courses we offer. 

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