Performance management is an extremely important process during which managers monitor and evaluate an employee’s work performance and overall contribution to their company.
It has always been a delicate process for companies to navigate. And after the whirlwind that was 2020, it’s become even harder.
In February 2021, Aaron Goldstein, Partner at Dorsey and Whitney LLP, presented Performance Management Lessons from a Crazy 2020 as part of TERRA’s HR Hotspot webcast series.
In this webinar, Aaron explained that while a lot of performance management issues started to become more prominent over the past four years, 2020 accelerated:
- The disappearance of at-will employment
- New expectations of accommodations and discrimination
- New kinds of claims related to COVID-19
- Remote work expectations and implications
So how can companies successfully handle performance management in an increasingly difficult environment?
Here are 3 strategies companies can use to navigate performance management:
- Have your employees’ best interests at heart.
- Document, document, document.
- Be mindful of inclusion and diversity issues.
Watch Aaron’s full webinar to get all his insight.
Or keep reading if you want to learn more about the three strategies companies need to follow to carry out effective performance management.
3 Key Strategies for Companies to Successfully Handle Performance Management:
1. Have your employees’ best interests at heart.
When it comes to employers, society has much bigger expectations of fairness than it used to. With so many new factors affecting employment law in 2020, decision makers don’t have clear rules to follow when they pass judgement on performance issues. They rely on their own common sense. Which means they have a lot of leeway with any decision they make.
If they believe you, as an employer, are being unfair and/or on the wrong side of a case, they won’t hesitate to rule against you. However, if they believe you did everything you could to help your employee, and that employee still didn’t meet expectations, those same decision makers will rule in your favor.
“The message we need to send employees when it comes to performance management is, ‘I am invested in you and I want to see you succeed.”
How do you show your employees you care? By doing everything in your power to set them up for success.
Start by creating a development plan with them as soon as they begin working for you. Follow through by ensuring managers have regular one-on-ones with their staff. Those meetings are a space in which managers can provide constructive feedback. They also offer staff a chance to voice concerns.
Ensure that your employees have access to resources in order to help them in their career – and make sure that they are aware of them.
All of this will help establish a narrative, in writing and in all of your actions, that you are looking out for your employees.
2. Document, document, document.
According to Aaron, on top of demonstrating companies care about their employees’ success, there is nothing more important than documentation. “This is really the essence of good performance management. Establishing this narrative with good written documentation.”
Whenever you engage in performance management processes, you need to document early, often, and consistently! It is the only way for you and your company to ensure you avoid legal issues. “If it’s not in writing, it’s a ‘he said, she said’ situation. And that’s not enough to win an employment law case.”
Aaron emphasizes that employers should consistently keep track of their employees’ performance and document issues early. If a team member has been consistently underperforming, it needs to be documented right away. Along with proof that they have gotten all the help they needed to improve. Not only will that help the employer avoid legal issues, it will ensure they are being fair.
3. Be mindful of inclusion and diversity issues.
Mindfulness in the workplace is becoming more and more important. Nowadays, it is impossible to ignore the very real inclusion and diversity issues employees face at their jobs. Companies will benefit from being aware of those issues and facing them head on.
That means they should adopt policies and practices that are proactive when it comes to diversity and inclusion. Training managers on those topics will help ensure they engage in fair, mindful performance management.
Managers can also develop sensitivity to their own biases. They will achieve that by paying attention to who’s voice gets listened to, who gets credit, who sits where. They will avoid many issues if they take the time to recognize potential biases and address them. Aaron explains, “Leadership should not be dismissive of bias concerns, instead they should look for barriers to inclusion.”
It may be impossible to completely eradicate bias in individuals. But it is now more important than ever that companies take measures to address it and enforce positive change.
Performance Management Takeaways
Effective performance management is a complex, constantly evolving process. And while there are risks to it, as long as companies keep their employees’ best interests at heart, document, and stay mindful of diversity and inclusion issues, they are off to a good start!
And if you want more guidance, make sure to watch Aaron’s full webinar!
Aaron is a legal expert with lots of great advice beyond performance management. If you enjoyed his guidance, watch these other HR HotSpot webinars he presented on a variety of topics:
- Legal Considerations for a Brave New WFH World
- #MeToo Round Two: New Details, New Lessons
- Legal Issues and Tips for Implementing Flexible Work Arrangements
- How to Handle Employee Terminations: Best Practices and lessons from the Trenches
How TERRA Can Help
TERRA Staffing Group is a leading staffing agency, headquartered in the Pacific Northwest. Our monthly HR HotSpot webinars provide guidance, solutions, and best practices for HR professionals and business leaders.
These free webinars feature insight from industry leaders and experts on a wide variety of topics related to today’s workplace, including performance management, talent engagement, diversity and inclusion, HR advice, and much more.
And if you find yourself needing performance management or staffing support, don’t hesitate to reach out to TERRA. Our expert team is eager to be a resource to you.