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6 Ways Managers Can Maximize Performance through Employee Engagement

2. Maximize Performance (Part 2 of a 10 part series on how managers can improve employee engagement)

According to Aon Hewitt’s most recent report Trends in Global Employee Engagement, the largest drop in engagement this year is employees’ perception of how companies manage performance. Workers worldwide believe their employers have not provided the appropriate focus or level of management that would lead to increased productivity, nor have they connected individual performance to organizational goals.

Jamie Gruman and Alan Saks wrote an insightfull article on performance management and employee engagement in the Human Resource Management Review. They stated that less than a third of employees believe that their company’s performance management process assists them in improving performance.

Barbara Bowes, an excellent writer in Winnipeg on HR issues, stated in a Winnipeg Free Press column on Job performance appraisal system needs overhaul:

The result is that in many cases executives do not support performance appraisals and so the practice falls by the wayside. Human resource managers are dissatisfied because the performance systems are typically time consuming, bureaucratic, paper driven, top down and often have little reference to organizational goals. Not only that, operational managers are often chronically late in completing their appraisals. All in all, the performance management system is frequently the most poorly implemented of all human resource management systems.

What, then, should an effective performance management system look like? First of all, no matter the technical details of your performance system, the organizational philosophy must recognize that “on task behaviour” is not the only thing that should be counted. Organizations need to recognize that work has changed. It is more flexible, more dynamic, interchangeable, less precise, team oriented, more ambiguous, more complex and more stressful. These elements have been found to be just as important and need to be given consideration in a performance evaluation.

Changing landscape and mobility of work. Engaged performance management must recognize and respond to the flexible, dynamic, ambiguous, complex and stressful elements of performance. Add to the challenge is the increasing level of mobile workers, reaching over 1 billion this year. We want to maximize employees performance and not tick them off with the use of structured inauthentic performance appraisals that sucks the energy out of both employees and their managers.

Here are 6 practices to create engaged performance:

Make work worthy of attention. One sports psychologist defined performance as anything worthy of your attention. Hopefully all work is worthy of a worker’s attention. We need to step back from the jobs, roles, and tasks and ensure that work is worthy of the attention it deserves. Here are a few questions to consider:

    • Have I done my best to make work worthy of every employee’s attention?
    • Does each employee know the value and meaning of their work?
    • Does the employee have some freedom in their attention and work that capitalizes on intrinsic interest and motivation?

Job craft with employees. Help employees job craft by fusing the needs of the organization with the strengths of the individual so that performance is beneficial to both. Knowledge workers need to have input into what their work is and how that work is achieved and job crafting can be an excellent step in that direction.  I encourage you to read a short review of job crafting by CV Harquail, How Job Crafting Can Get You Closer to Authentic Work. Here is a short section from her post:

Job crafting is the practice of (re-)shaping the job that you are expected to do so that you can enlarge the parts that are important to you.Through job crafting, an employee can take on new activities, new responsibilities, and new relationships, making the job so bigger (or smaller), more interesting, more useful, and overall more closely linked to their strengths and interests.

Fuse performance appraisal and engagement appraisal. Jamie Gruman and Alan Saks, in a rigorous academic piece on engagement and performance, advocate that we move from management of performance to facilitation of performance. They recommend that we fuse performance management and employee engagement into a new approach that weaves the two more closely together to respond to the way work is done in 2011.

Engage with mastery versus competency. It is astounding to see the lists of competencies required by many jobs and the lengthy guidebooks that outline those competencies. How can employees act on all those competencies or even remember the lists? We engage strongly with a sense of mastery versus competency and we need to parse long lists of competencies in favor of strong mastery on a  vital few performances that achieves results while fully engaging the employee.

Personal performance focus. Are you maximizing your own performance? Mike King on his Learn This website wrote an excellent blog post on 10 ways to be performance oriented. In the post he includes such ways as:

    • study the results of everything you do
    • reflect on your talents and how to use them
    • kill distractions and find solitude
    • change what doesn’t work quickly

Step up to variances with conversation. Step up to variance with safety and conversation. Learn to address variances in performance as soon as possible through conversations that demonstrate caring. I think both Crucial Conversations and Crucial Confrontations offers a good foundation to build the conversation skills to achieve results, address gaps, and build realtionships.

Previous posts in the series:

Next post in this series: Navigate through setbacks, path progress, and enable work.

David Zinger built the 10 block pyramid of employee engagement to help managers bring the full power of employee engagement to their workplaces. If you would like to arrange to have this course or workshop for your organization or conference contact David today at 204 254 2130 or [email protected]

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