Performance Management Blog

Performance Feedback, Development and Employee Motivation

Posted by Jamie Resker on Oct 12, 2011 5:02:00 PM

Sean Conrad Halogen SoftwareWe’re excited to have Sean Conrad, a Certified Human Capital Strategist and Senior Product Analyst at Halogen Software, provide some insight on employee motivation.   

noun /ˌmōtəˈvāSHən/ 
motivations, plural

1.  The reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way
      -escape can be a strong motivation for travel

2.  The general desire or willingness of someone to do something
     - keep staff up to date and maintain interest and motivation

Motivation. It’s complex and sometimes just plain unpredictable, but as a manager, understanding motivation is critical to helping your employees perform at a high level. This ability is truly an art, and one that requires ongoing effort and attention from even the strongest of managers.

Feedback and Employee Motivation

It’s important to keep in mind that what may motivate one employee simply may not do anything for another. In fact, studies have consistently shown that while pay for performance can be a motivator for some employees, it is simply not enough for others.

When it comes to employee recognition, here’s what employees really want:

  • To receive fair pay and benefits

  • To receive time and attention from supervisors

  • To feel their contribution to the company is valued

  • To be trusted to make decisions and have some control over their work

  • To have clear goals set out by management

  • To be treated with dignity and respect

  • To receive recognition, even for everyday tasks

  • To receive training / mentoring / leadership development

Many of these motivating factors don’t involve monetary reward at all. So with that said, how can you ensure you deliver on the above? Here are four performance management best practices that can help.

1. Give Regular Feedback on Performance

Even if your organization only conducts performance appraisals once a year, managers should be having ongoing, consistent conversations with employees about performance. These could be in the context of weekly update meetings, monthly check-ins and/or quarterly mini appraisals. Having ongoing conversations about performance enables you, the manager, to provide timely recognition of your employees’ achievements and to identify and address any issues or areas for improvement earlier on.

2. Provide Opportunities for Training and Development

Too often employee development discussions remain neglected until the next annual performance review. Development needs are identified based on performance ratings and "stretch" goals, then a few courses or learning activities are assigned.

Development is a continuous process, and providing employees with ongoing opportunities throughout the year can go a long way to driving employee motivation. Employee development can take many forms - from formal training opportunities to providing relevant books to read.

The key is to ensure you are regularly assessing throughout the year where employees are in terms of development activities. You may have an employee who completes all of her development activities in the first quarter, which means you’ll both need to consider further challenges and opportunities to continue her development.

Conversely, an employee may be struggling with development activities; work with this employee to reassess his training and development plan so he can continue to feel positive about his development goals.

3. Monitor Progress on Goals

Effective goal management is ongoing. It requires regular continuous dialogue between managers and employees that includes: feedback and coaching, prioritizing, and employee development and career planning. 

The result is that employees have visibility into how they're contributing and the effect of their efforts so they can celebrate milestones and successes. This regular progress check also enables you to adjust and update goals as business or other priorities change.

4. Master the Art of Performance Conversations

A lot of what holds managers back in terms of effectively motivating their team is a lack of confidence or skill in facilitating productive performance conversations. This is especially true when the conversation is centered on addressing a performance issue.

To this point, Halogen Software is excited to partner with Jamie on a webinar that will help managers manage with these sometimes difficult and awkward performance conversations.

Sean Conrad is a Certified Human Capital Strategist and Senior Product Analyst at Halogen Software, one of the leading providers of talent management software. For more of his insights on talent management, read his posts on the Halogen Software blog.

Topics: employee motivation, employee development, performance feedback, performance management, Feedback as a motivator