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Updated Nov 07, 2023

How to Implement Continuous Performance Management

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Jennifer Dublino, Contributing Writer

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If you’re a manager or an HR professional, you’ve probably been inundated with articles discussing annual performance reviews and how to break free from typical performance management practices. 

Continuous performance management is the future of performance management. It eschews annual performance reviews in favor of more frequent informal check-ins. It focuses on motivating employees to have a growth mindset, fostering improved communication and coaching, and celebrating positive actions and results. 

We’ll explain how to implement a continuous performance management process in your organization and reap rewards such as improved employee engagement and trust. 

FYIDid you know

Instead of merely reassessing past actions, businesses are focusing on reinventing performance management to inspire and fuel their team’s future performance.

How to implement continuous performance management

Continuous performance management incorporates real-time feedback while allocating short-term objectives and encouraging frequent developmental conversations with all employees. It removes the anxiety of annual performance reviews and other employee-manager interactions. 

This method is more effective in getting employee buy-in and helps managers create better performance improvement plans in the workplace. 

Follow these six steps to transition to continuous performance management.  

1. Talk to managers to discover who is already conducting regular performance discussions.

If you have difficulty getting managers to conduct yearly performance reviews with their employees, you might feel that continuous performance management is impossible. After all, if managers aren’t motivated to conduct one review, how will you inspire them to hold at least 12? 

Your first step is to talk with managers and leaders in your organization to discover how many already carry out informal performance discussions. You might be surprised. Many companies that have introduced continuous performance management found that managers had already incorporated regular informal feedback check-ins to a certain degree.

Managers should be intimately involved in designing your new process and transitioning to continuous performance management. Ask them how they organize formal and informal meetings, how frequently these meetings happen, and whether they have any helpful talking points to get the ball rolling.

2. Get buy-in from senior leadership on continuous performance management.

To successfully implement a new continuous performance management system, you must get buy-in from top management. It’s easier to get the rest of your workforce on board when they see the higher-ups leading by example.

It’s normal to face some resistance from senior leadership regarding an organizational change — particularly one as big as ditching annual appraisals. Take the time to discuss, using research-based evidence, the business benefits of continuous performance management.

Answer questions regarding how the new process will identify high- and low-performing employees and how promotions, merit pay increases and employee bonuses will be handled. Knowing that these questions have been considered and are being handled can give leadership a level of confidence in the new system.

Did You Know?Did you know

It’s also essential to track and improve organizational performance by evaluating employee engagement, communication methods and internal metrics.

3. Sell the benefits of continuous performance management to managers.

No manager will be truly engaged with the new system if they don’t understand its value and how it will improve performance. For this reason, HR must explain the new system in detail, including why you’re transitioning to continuous performance management and how it will help everyone improve.

Stress the benefits of a more engaged, motivated and better-performing team to managers. They should also know that, ultimately, regular check-ins are less time-consuming than an arduous annual appraisal process.

4. Provide the necessary training and guidance for continuous performance management.

To get the most out of your new performance management system, provide the appropriate training. Use the time normally spent administering annual appraisals to train managers to conduct quality performance conversations and deliver meaningful feedback. Don’t assume this comes naturally to all managers.

Bottom LineBottom line

Continuous performance management creates an invaluable feedback loop that helps businesses get the most out of their employees.

5. Continually communicate the changes that will take place.

Employees and managers may need several explanations and multiple discussions about the switch to continuous performance management. Communication planning is critical when an organization is transitioning to continuous performance management because everyone must be on board.

Don’t rely on a one-off email announcing the change. Organize various methods to communicate the transition, including email newsletters, videos, face-to-face meetings, webinars and fact sheets.

6. Use continuous performance management software.

Technology is an incredible tool for facilitating your transition to continuous performance management. Software can help you schedule and track one-on-one meetings with employees, exchange real-time feedback, and track SMART goals and objectives that will be revisited regularly. 

With performance management software, you can track performance discussions and feedback sessions while monitoring pressing performance issues. Such employee data is crucial for monitoring the success of your new performance management process.

TipBottom line

Excellent tools to measure employee performance include Basecamp, which tracks employees’ tasks and performance, and DeskTime, which monitors the time employees spend on specific projects.

Benefits of continuous performance management

Continuous performance management brings many benefits to employers and employees, including the following: 

  • Continuous performance management boosts employee engagement. It’s no secret that you get your best work from engaged employees. Continuous performance management can help with this vital metric. According to research from Gallup, employees who had conversations with managers about their goals and successes in the previous six months were 2.8 times as likely to be engaged in their work. When employees got daily feedback from a manager, they were three times more likely to be engaged in their work.
  • Continuous performance management nurtures trust. By continually interacting with employees and giving them feedback, managers show they’re genuinely interested in helping each employee succeed. Frequent communication empowers and encourages your staff and improves manager and employee relationships.
  • Continuous performance management provides vital data. Managers should demonstrate expectations and create actionable goals that team members can follow to succeed. Continuous performance management systems give employees a rubric to work from consistently while encouraging feedback. That way, if something isn’t working, it can be adjusted easily. 
  • Continuous performance management helps employees succeed. Employees get consistent updates on their performance and management’s expectations. If they’re not excelling as quickly as they’d like, continuous performance management brings real-time feedback that can help. Struggling employees can get actionable tips on how to improve instead of checking in once a year to learn how they’ve failed.
  • Continuous performance management improves employee retention. When employees feel valued and more engaged with their employer, their job satisfaction improves. Because they are happy at work, they are less likely to look for another job, thereby reducing the company’s need to recruit, interview and train new employees.
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Jennifer Dublino, Contributing Writer
Jennifer Dublino is a prolific researcher, writer, and editor, specializing in topical, engaging, and informative content. She has written numerous e-books, slideshows, websites, landing pages, sales pages, email campaigns, blog posts, press releases and thought leadership articles. Topics include consumer financial services, home buying and finance, general business topics, health and wellness, neuroscience and neuromarketing, and B2B industrial products.
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