Recent work with clients addressing their performance management approach has prompted questions over whether linking employee performance and reward is the right approach for all organisations?

My discussions have led me to question: is this really working for employers? While it clearly works for some, this is not the case for all.

So why the hesitation?  It seems I spend lots of time and energy helping organisations, large and small, establish whether they can really measure performance on an individual level.  I understand and endorse it for leaders and managers in organisations, but less so for accounts administrators, secretaries, security guards, call centre agents, shop assistants and alike.

I’m now starting to believe that, for most customer facing and non-leadership roles, employee behaviour really makes a performance difference at an organisational level.   The security guard at the airport that goes the extra mile to clear the queues when things are busy; the shop assistant that rings around nearby stores when they don’t have the item you want in stock; or the secretary or team administrator who always knows how to deal with the call from the irate customer or colleague.

So what are the alternatives?

We need to look at this in a number of ways.  Let’s first look at the role of the manager.

The line manager’s role is to guide, coach, tutor, provide oversight and generally do whatever is required to assist a member of staff to perform successfully.   Perhaps look at it another way, the line manager and direct report team should be held jointly accountable for the quality of work the employee performs.   We have all heard the stories and complaints about staff who fail and get fired, while line managers, whose job it was to ensure their effectiveness, get promoted and receive raises in pay.  Instead, companies should be looking to change the relationship to a partnership, which will share in success.

Secondly, technology is going to play an even bigger part in how we get the best from our teams going forward.  We need to use it to change the emphasis of performance reviews, to a focus on performance previews.  Technology now that allows us to record informally what “I” need from you as “team member and partner”, to achieve what we both want collectively. It doesn’t happen only annually or bi-annually, this should take place each time either the line manager or their member of staff has the feeling that they aren’t working to achieve the shared goals.  Technology should be used to record these previews, ensuring that both share in the task.

And lastly, instant recognition will play a significant role in engaging, motivating and rewarding teams going forward.  As I am sure many of the readers of this blog will already know, our friends, children and we, personally, already measure success by the number of “likes” on Facebook, or benchmarks across other social media platforms. This instantaneous feedback will become part of how we manage the employees of the future.  The bi-annual backward looking appraisal is dying, generation Z employees won’t wait to hear how they are doing, and won’t wait to be rewarded for their efforts.  In the long run, I suspect the annual bonus is also going to disappear for most employees, as we move towards delivering financial and non-financial rewards quickly.

I would love to hear your feedback.

New HR Videos

Sign up to receive our Performance Management Matters Guide

You have Successfully Subscribed!