Top 10 mistakes when setting up a performance management process

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Richard Brereton
Richard Brereton
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Customer Success Lead
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min read
January 10, 2024
April 25, 2024
Avoiding common mistakes when setting up your performance management process
In this article

Our customer success team have put their heads together to come up with the most common mistakes organisations make when setting up their performance management process. Here is their top 10 and how to avoid them.

A question you may be asking yourself is, what should performance management look like in2024?  A single, annual appraisal is not enough to support, motivate and develop employees. Something more frequent and personalised is needed, that fits in with the goals and culture of their organisation. But what form should it take? 

Over more than a decade, we’ve worked with hundreds of organisations to help them build effective online processes and we’ve seen a huge variety of different approaches from the very basic to the hugely complex. During that time, we’ve seen what works and what definitely doesn’t. 

Whether you are creating a new process from scratch or looking to evolve an existing approach, our list of the 10 most common mistakes we’ve come across, and how to avoid them, will be invaluable.

Mistake 10 – Being scared of change

Kicking off our list is a fear of the new. Changing a performance management process can be a daunting task, and sticking with the status quo can often seem like the easier option. However, failing take action can lead to more problems, with employees not receiving the guidance and support they need to reach their full potential. Reviewing your process, consulting stakeholders across the business and exploring new ideas can be hugely beneficial and breathe new life into your approach.

Top tip – Don’t try and go it alone. Find allies across the business who are keen to develop new ideas and become advocates for them.

Mistake 9 – Not evolving the process

No successful business can afford to stand still. The pace of change may vary depending on size and industry, but keeping up with advances in technology, customer demands and employee expectations is vital. As performance management is about ensuring an organisation reaches its goals, it needs to evolve as these objectives change. Not doing this can quickly render a process irrelevant.

Top tip – Check in with key stakeholders regularly to make sure the process is still working for them and find out if there are any innovations that can be made to improve it.

Mistake 8 – Not communicating with employees

Performance management should not be something that is “done” to employees. They should be actively involved in the process, clearly understanding how it benefits them and their careers. Nothing disengages employees more than not being kept in the loop about what changes are being made, and why. Make sure your employees are fully informed and understand the new benefits of the new process.

Top tip – Seek advice from your marketing team and work with them to create a comprehensive communication plan to ensure your employees know why you’re introducing a new process and how it benefits them.

Mistake 7 – Not leading by example

Time and again, we see the people who consistently fail to engage with performance management are senior leaders and the HR team themselves. This sends a terrible message to the rest of the business about the importance and value of the process, and often leads to apathy and dissatisfaction from employees. If the c-suite is fully onboard, it makes a huge difference and encourages everyone to embrace it.

Top tipFind a champion on the senior leadership team who will lead the way and help you sell the process to their fellow directors and the rest of the business

Mistake 6 – Making the process too generic

While we recommend you don’t bite off more than you can chew, not being bold enough can cause as many problems. Following a process that works for another organisation is not the answer. A successful process needs to be specific to your needs and may vary for different departments who have their own competencies or priorities.

Top tip – Make sure each department in your organisation can feed into your process and can tailor reviews to meet their specific requirements.

Mistake 5 – Making the process too complicated and cumbersome

On the flip side, doing too much too quickly can also lead to disaster. If you have a new platform, there is a temptation to take advantage of all its features. Adding in lots of new elements can make employees feel overwhelmed, turning them off rather than engaging them. Keeping everything focused on key requirements should ensure you can take everyone with you on your journey.

Top tip – If you want to radically change your process, take it step by step - introduce one new element at a time. This will allow employees to get to grips with the change and embed it successfully.

Mistake 4 – Designing the process to suit HR not the business

While HR is often the driving force behind a performance management process, they should not dictate what it includes. If it is to be successful, any approach must benefit the business and employees. It needs to support both the organisation’s strategic goals and the people strategy.

Top tip – Work with your senior leadership team to make sure you know what the organisation’s priorities are and what areas they need the process to support.

Mistake 3 – Not supporting the technology

One thing we’ve seen time and again is the belief that an online system will fix all of the problems with a performance management process. While they certainly vastly improve things like tracking progress, visibility and reporting, they are not a silver bullet. A platform works best when supported by clear communication, guidance and training.

Top tip – Creating a brief guide on how best to use the new system with tips and examples provides both employees and managers with the support they need to make the most of the innovation.

Mistake 2 – not following up with data

An online performance management platform will give you lots of data. It can tell you so much if you use it in the right way. From identifying rising talent to highlighting training issues, it can provide an incredibly useful insight into how your employees are behaving and feeling. However, this is only valuable if you act on the information. Following up on requests and issues is vital. If employees see no positive outcomes from their reviews, they’ll quickly become disengaged and disillusioned. 

Top tip – Hold regular briefings with managers to go through insights from your performance management system so they have clear action plans to support their employees.

Mistake 1 - Not knowing what you want to achieve

The number one mistake on our list is not knowing what outcomes and value you want to get out of your performance management process. Just as with any other project, clear objectives are vital to provide clarity. Without them, it’s impossible to communicate the benefits to the business, improve productivity or measure success.

Top tip – Before doing anything else, agree with key stakeholders what you want to achieve with your performance management process and how you will measure progress against your goals.

That rounds off our list. We cover all these and more in our Top 10 mistakes when setting up your performance management process webinar. Watch it now for further tips on how to avoid them.

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