As originally published in Forbes here.
Since writing “The Three M’s Needed For A Comprehensive Employee Experience Strategy,” I have been frequently asked about the key moments in the employee experience that managers and organizations need to focus on and apply emotional intent to. In previous articles, I have focused on the key moments in an employee’s day, the recruitment process and their first 60 to 90 days on the job. I now want to review the seven key moments around an employee’s ability to perform and be successful in their role and with the company.
1. Do I understand how my performance is measured?
Performance is defined by what is to be delivered against how it is delivered. Employees must know the what — the tasks to be completed, the results they must attain or the goals to be achieved. However, we often find from our employee surveys that they are not given goals or metrics by which their performance is judged. Performance expectations must also include how to perform, which is often captured in an organization’s values. Company values cannot be something merely written on a wall or website — rather, employees must see the values in their leaders’ and senior managers’ actions and activities. Employees often share with us that they are told about values and expectations during the interview process or early in their career only to see managers work completely differently, creating uncertainty on exactly how performance is measured. For an employee, knowing clearly what performance is based on and how it is measured is critical in how they feel about their company and manager.
2. Am I being set up for success?
This important moment needs to be incorporated into the onboarding process and the day-to-day. Organizations and managers must consider whether their employees have the right training, tools, information and support to do their job to the best of their ability. We often remind managers to review each of these factors daily with their teams to reinforce how they are being set up for success.
3. Am I trusted to work unsupervised or make decisions in the moment?
Employees want to know they are trusted. We often hear of two situations that overwhelmingly send a message to employees that they are not trusted: being micro-managed and always needing to ask for permission. When managers micromanage everything an employee does, it sends a clear message regarding a lack of trust. Managers should focus more on inspecting what they expect randomly, yet consistently as needed.
We also hear from employees that they are not allowed to make decisions without consulting their manager. This dynamic again sends a message that there is a lack of trust. As a manager, you need to be hands-off once you have enabled your team with the right training, tools and information. Allow your team to make decisions with their work while consistently coaching and guiding them on what the right decision might look like.
4. Do I get regular, fair and constructive feedback about my performance?
Managers should coach or give their employees informal feedback every day regarding their performance. However, employees in our reviews cite a lack of feedback as a significant frustration. Without feedback, employees will never grow and perform to their fullest potential. Beyond the daily informal conversations, managers should also have regular performance check-ins with their people, either weekly or monthly. It is no longer effective or acceptable to have an annual performance conversation that is often rushed and impacted by the recency effect and that staff does not see as credible.
5. Does my manager and the organization recognize and/or reward performance credibly?
Employees crave recognition, but they also want to ensure it is fair, credible and based on performance — not tenure or relationships. When you are clear about performance expectations, it should be easy to recognize your best people. If you don’t, then your best people will leave, and the rest of your employees will see little incentive to perform their best. Managers must ensure any recognition or rewards are meaningful and relevant to each employee. We have highlighted before the three ways a manager can deliver meaningful recognition. If you are serious about elevating performance, ensure you recognize and reward your best-performing people consistently and credibly.
6. Does the organization or my manager hold poor performers accountable?
Organizations and managers must be willing to have tough conversations and make tough decisions about employees who do not perform. Employees, in general, do not like carrying poor performers and so when a manager or organization does not hold those people accountable, workers become frustrated. Organizations need to teach managers why accountability is important, how it connects to performance and then hold managers accountable for sub-standard performance across their team. Managers have to avoid the short-term discomfort of having tough conversations and making tough decisions with their team over the long-term disorder that a lack of accountability causes.
7. Is my career important to my manager and the organization?
Regardless of age, career is still top of mind with most employees. Employees often equate an organization’s or manager’s interest in their career based on how well they are developed, educated, groomed, mentored or challenged to be a better version of themselves. Organizations must invest in providing learning and collaboration opportunities for staff regardless of their position or role. They also must ensure their hiring process supports and even provides an advantage to qualified internal candidates. For managers, this means they must support learning, collaboration, promotion and the other moments identified in this article around performance and setting their people up for success.
With awareness and intention, both the organization and its managers can put themselves in the best position to elevate their people’s experiences and performance. Companies must always have performance front of mind and by understanding these key moments — and how various mechanisms and managers can positively impact them — they can set themselves and their people up for success.