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Many managers have “favorite” employees, but how objectively are employees’ performances rated? If there is not a process in place, then the company is at high risk of allowing top talent to walk out the door.

Playing favorites is not a solid employee engagement strategy. Good performance management is good risk management. Identify and document the top contributors to an organization’s success by developing core competencies, setting goals, documenting continual feedback and examining the results.

Competencies Define Expectations

Developing core competencies in employees and top performers will groom them for future jobs within the organization and reduce the risk of turnover. Expectations should be clear across the board. Not only should the quality of work be made clear, but so should the workplace culture. This will lessen the risk of losing top talent and motivate new and seasoned employees to develop their skill sets for future opportunities within the organization.

Competencies can be tested by setting mutually agreed upon goals focused on individual employee career development. Goal setting and tracking progress toward those goals makes employee strengths and weaknesses clear to the employer, while putting the accountability on the employee. When employees understand required competencies, have set goals and are held accountable for those goals, an organization can be more confident in its ability to remain competitive in the ever-changing marketplace. As competencies are reinforced and tested through goal setting, employees can set and reach performance benchmarks that will reduce the risk of employee disengagement and also improve output productivity.

Tracking Progress Toward Success

When starting to develop competencies and set goals, documenting the process and the progress should become the next priority. If it’s not, there is a risk of losing the information that helps managers better support employees and the company better understand its talent bench. Not only is it important to document progress, but it is also important to document two-way communication to understand the employee's point of view. Two- way communication allows for giving and receiving of feedback and improving employee engagement.

Two-way communication is not the only a way to learn about employee strengths and weaknesses; 360-degree feedback allows employees to receive timely feedback from those around them as well. Many job seekers are looking for a job where their skills are needed and valued. Continual and timely feedback from coworkers other than direct managers shows employees that their skill sets are needed and also holds them truly accountable in all settings. This also reduces the risk of inconsistent behavior from an employee and makes them accountable for their work in all settings—not just where they are being evaluated by their supervisor.

After developing core competencies, setting goals and documenting progress and feedback, it is time to inspect results. With documentation in place, management can identify top performers and groom them for future responsibilities. Middle and low performers can be engaged to improve their skills through specific and timely feedback. If this type of process sounds arduous, start small with annual performance reviews and document these conversations. Another way to simplify is to consider automating the performance management process, which can save time, centralize information and make reporting progress easier.

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