5 Questions about Brain-Friendly Performance Management - HighGround

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5 Questions about Brain-Friendly Performance Management

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Last week I co-hosted a webinar with the Dr. David Rock of the NeuroLeadership Institute called, “A Brain-Friendly Approach to Performance Management.” I saw David speak five years ago and have been passionate about the topic ever since. It was certainly a career highlight to co-host the webinar and discuss how companies can change their performance management strategies.

Attendees gave us even more to think about during the Q&A session. While we couldn’t answer all the great questions during the webinar, we wanted to respond to some of them here:

The goal is to have better conversations; however, what is heard is often different than what is said or meant. How do we manage to that brain dynamic?

Giving and receiving feedback is challenging and can be uncomfortable for both sides of the table. But if these conversations become more frequent and focus on goal progression, they actually become constructive. Ask forward-focused questions such as:

  • Where do you want to be next year at this time?
  • Is your current performance heading in this direction?
  • How can I help you get there?

These sorts of questions lead to a different conversation than one that simply reveals a numerical ranking and focuses solely on employee’s past performance. Encourage and empower your managers to ask more meaningful questions targeted on the future. It’s not only more brain-friendly for the employee — it helps your managers become more impactful coaches.

Does this brain-friendly philosophy/model work for both high performers as well as low performers?

The real-time, continuous feedback approach is effective because it works for all points on the performance spectrum. Standard rating scales only cater to the “satisfactory” performer and do little to motivate underperforming employees or further develop those who exceed goals. Regularly providing all employees with specific and actionable feedback drives performance improvement and develops managerial coaching skills.

Bottlenecks are a challenge – executives and HR buy in – but getting managers, supervisors, team leads and staff level support is the bottle neck. What do you suggest?

Often, especially with performance management overhauls, there is buy-in from the top but the initiative stalls when new processes aren’t intuitive for employees to use. To eliminate some of the barriers, choose a solution that integrates easily with technologies employees already in place.

Many engagement tools currently on the market are designed for administrators and loosely adapted for employees. Consequently, these systems are clunky and the new processes slowly fade back into old habits.

You can turn this on its head. Design your engagement program with the employee first — if the processes are seamless, employees can track conversations without feeling like it’s a hassle and development is the goal, the system becomes sustainable.

If you take away the overall ratings, how do you determine what people are paid for merit increases?

Enabling employees to track feedback in real time holds managers accountable and gives you insight into the type of conversations taking place. With a better understanding of the frequency and content of these coaching sessions, you can identify top performers, employees who need more coaching and those who’ve earned a merit increase.

What type of communication or training would you recommend for managers? In person trainings, short video bites, etc.?

A true culture of continuous feedback involves everyone across leadership levels, teams and departments. Like the employees on their team, managers should also be given the opportunity to receive consistent feedback from their peers and other managers. To build a sustainable approach, encourage your managers to collaborate with each other and build ongoing feedback into meetings with their peers.

Stay tuned next week as we answer more questions from the session and dive deeper into the poll results from the webinar. Many thanks to the Human Capital Institute for moderating the session,  David and all the attendees who helped make this webinar an interactive and information session.

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