How companies can practice performance management in hybrid times



Performance management in hybrid times where people split their time between working at home and in the office has become a very important issue for both employers and employees as our working world has changed enormously in the last three years.

Now the question arises whether performance management systems still exist and are they even necessary?

Organizations conduct performance management to drive organizational outcomes, improve performance in the current job, provide for employee development, reward high performance, strengthen the relationship between managers and employees, provide management with timely data for use in its organizational planning, and Provide performance feedback to employees.

“Companies have put performance management systems in place to drive better outcomes from the organization, its teams and individuals by understanding and managing performance within an agreed framework of planned goals, targets and standards,” said Penny Petrou, General Manager for the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal and Christine Janse van Rensburg, Executive Director at 21st Century say.

But what if?

Covid-19 has changed the way people work, with most organizations adopting a hybrid model for some of their employees, but are their performance management policies, procedures and practices being updated to reflect these changes?

Are annual or biannual performance reviews sufficient for employees to be successful in their current roles and to achieve organizational goals and strategy?

“In the past, performance management systems were set around predetermined Key Performance Areas (KPAs) and schedules, but now those systems need to be more flexible and adaptive as our environments and people have evolved,” says Petrou.

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Remote work and performance management

Janse van Rensburg adds that people no longer have to come into the office every day and many feel free.

“Performance management needs to become more flexible, personalized and frequent. A company can only be successful when it has the right people with the right attitude working towards a common goal. People are the number one success factor for the success of a company.”

Factors that determine a robust successful new performance management system? Janse van Rensburg and Petrou say that companies:

  • Reevaluate KPAs and determine if they are still valid or need to be realigned.
  • Determine if KPAs are measuring outputs or inputs since employees can no longer be measured by hours spent in the office.
  • See if the job descriptions are updated or adapted to the new way of working.
  • Set clear goals that align with both the individual’s and the company’s end goals.
  • Set CSMART goals: challenging, specific, measurable, actionable, relevant and time bound.
  • Focus on quality and regular performance reviews to drive engagement, purpose and performance.
  • Provide regular feedback, which is very important as historically it has traditionally been one-way for the manager to evaluate the employee’s performance. Now, performance reviews need to be more conversational, with two-way conversation taking place between managers and employees, using the sandwich technique where between positive aspects, the manager mentions areas that need improvement in the employee’s work.
  • Be aware of and show interest in the employee’s individual circumstances and experiences.
  • Include personal development plans in the conversation, offer help, and offer coaching and mentoring as needed.
  • Trust your employees to do what they are supposed to do.

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Why is performance management important?

“Performance management is critical to the success of organizations because employees need direction and recognition for their work. In addition, it is extremely important to engage employees who understand how they fit into the ‘big picture’,” says Janse van Rensburg.

“This will lead to retention and encourage growth. Employees want to feel like they belong, and with the hybrid model it’s easy to miss that sense of belonging, and the performance management meetings are important if a company wants to be financially successful,” says Petrou.

“Jack Welch said there are just three metrics that tell you almost everything you need to know about your company’s overall performance: employee engagement, customer satisfaction, and cash flow. It goes without saying that no company, big or small, can survive in the long term without motivated employees who believe in the mission and understand how to achieve it.”

Performance management can be a strategic tool for managers to do just that, they say.

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