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Flexibility, Individual Development and Feedback: Continuous Performance Management for a new employee culture


Continuous Performance Management (CPM) is a journey to increase manager and employee communication, foster a more open culture and improve the quality of performance and career discussions.

The COVID-19 lockdown made it clear that most companies are not prepared to quickly respond to events beyond their control. This can be fatal, especially in a globalised economy. In a post-pandemic landscape, business success will hinge on an agile business model that caters to employee needs.

There are four principles that serve as a starting point for the development of an employee-centric corporate culture:

  1. Workflow and work location need to be flexible
  2. Team structure determines performance
  3. People are the key to success
  4. Skills and roles must be adaptable

In other words, what organisations need is continuous performance management (CPM).


Classic year-end conversations must be a thing of the past

According to Morgan McKinley, employees in Hong Kong find traditional annual performance reviews demotivating because there is a disconnect between what employees need and what organisations provide. Many employees feel that these reviews are not accurate, and some may disagree with their manager’s feedback. Some also feel that reviews should be more frequent, and that they are often based on recent performance rather than overall performance.

In contrast, CPM focuses individually on each employee, both as part of a team and of the entire organisation. Under this model, all employees meet regularly with their managers and team leaders to discuss goals, career development, and coaching. These regular check-ins are even more important for decentralised workforces. Beyond merely managing the employee’s career progression, meetings focus on recognising the employee’s achievements, development and coaching discussions as well as qualitative feedback. To be effective, conversations should take place at regular intervals and be recorded using an online tool. These are often included in HCM systems such as SuccessFactors and Workday.


The success factors of CPM

  • Regularly discuss further development
    Ideally, only a third of the meetings should focus on career development. Career conversations should be linked to both the employee’s ambitions and the needs of the company because job descriptions should not remain static long term. Rather, the focus should be on fostering long-term employee engagement. By helping employees develop their skills on an individual level, companies can retain their top talent even when the original job description becomes redundant. Ultimately, skills, loyalty and commitment are the keys to reaching business goals. Success is built on cooperation and equality. All roles are important and should be treated as such. Career development must be possible for all employees, regardless of their starting position.
  • Lead with open communication
    Good CPM strives for continuous, open, and honest communication. It should be personally guided by managers and team leaders, but not determined by them because this could be intimidating and limiting. With many employees working remotely, CPM should be done online so that everyone who works together contributes and is taken into account.
  • Foster relationships and team membership
    In addition to career development, CPM is also a great way to build relationships with new joiners and remote workers, as teams may have less face-to-face time under a hybrid working model.
  • Focus on development instead of salary
    Job development is often equated with a salary increase or promotion. However, the traditional salary review is not the focus of CPM meetings. Rather, CPM focuses on the development of the individual as part of the entire workforce, rather than on pure salary and salary decisions.


Reaping the rewards of CPM

Pre-pandemic working models are becoming increasingly irrelevant as agile structures and responsibilities gain importance. The focus is on regular, informal and constructive discussions, not only with management, but between teammates involved in a project.

Change doesn't happen overnight. Corporate cultures shift slowly. Employees may initially be reluctant to engage in open conversations, especially with management. It will take some time for employees to relearn this. Empathy is necessary for positivity and trust to develop, so that conversations can become more open and honest and provide useful feedback.

The goal of CPM is to create a constructive and proactive mindset, both for the individual and for the company. It promotes a culture of ambition and flexible thinking. Collaboration and emotional intelligence gain more importance and helpful, yet quiet teammates receive due recognition. Employees are also given the opportunity to actively take charge of their career. Only then will they value their employer and proactively strive towards greater productivity.

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