How Leaders Can Balance Empathy and Performance Management

By TERRA Staffing Group

Posted on March 16, 2023

Smiling manager doing performance reviewCOVID-19 forced many companies to sideline performance management.

Now, as talks of a potential recession loom, employers are shifting focus back to employee productivity—and performance reviews are returning to the forefront.

This may cause some apprehension for managers, given how the cultural landscape has changed employee expectations and increased the demand for empathy from leaders.

Fortunately, compassion and performance are not (and should not be) mutually exclusive—and the benefits are significant.

Leaders who can strike a balance between the two will find an increase in employee engagement, productivity and retention.

Below we share ways employers can build a culture of accountability and support.

Tips for Leading with Empathy and Driving Results

Set clear and attainable goals.

In order to set employees up for success, they need to know what success looks like. Make time to review the expectations of their role and let them know that they will be evaluated according to those expectations. Be sure that those goals are realistic, measurable and within their control to achieve. This will provide them with a clear roadmap for success and may provide additional motivation to reach those goals.

Provide regular feedback—and praise.

Managers who check in consistently with their employees can identify potential challenges before they become problems. Employees will also have more opportunities to improve any possible performance issues and strengthen skills. Just as important, regular touchpoints allow managers to praise employees for the things they are doing well. Not only does this demonstrate to an employee that their contributions are being noticed, it may inspire employees to continue working hard.

Encourage open communication.

Let employees know that you want to hear from them when they have questions, concerns, ideas, etc. Not only does opening the lines of communication invite innovation, it also helps limit misunderstandings, assumptions and mistakes. And the benefits don’t end there. When employees feel like their voices count, job satisfaction, team relationships and productivity increase.

Offer resources and support.

Ask your employees what additional support they may need from you. Ensure that they have access to tools and training that can help them in their career—and make sure that they are aware of them. Connecting employees to resources demonstrates an investment in their success, while simultaneously empowering them to invest in their own training and development.

Holding employees accountable and showing compassion are essential to being an effective leader and achieving desired business outcomes.

Consistent performance documentation can also help employers avoid potential litigation.

In a recent HR HotSpot webcast, Aaron Goldstein, Attorney and Partner at Dorsey & Whitney LLP, stressed the importance of fact-based performance management documentation and demonstrating an investment in an employee’s success.

“You want to make sure that your performance management documentation doesn’t just point out what the problems are, but makes it clear that you are trying to help the employee succeed. There’s nothing more valuable in employment law than having a documented record showing that you are invested and committed to your employee’s success.”

Watch Aaron’s full webcast for more insight on effective (and compassionate) performance management—and for additional employment law pitfall employers should keep top of mind in 2023.

And if you are looking for additional performance management strategies, this article may be of value to you:

Interested in staffing solutions or looking for a partner to help you navigate the complexities of employee performance management? We’re here to help. Contact TERRA Staffing Group today to get a conversation started.

Categories: HR and Management Advice, HR Compliance & Labor Laws

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