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Improve Check-Ins Through Action Steps, Deadlines, and Alerts
Authored By: HR Performance on 6/28/2017

Action Steps and Deadlines

Providing informal and real-time feedback via regular check-ins is something HR Performance Solutions has advocated for years. The marketplace seemed to really catch on to this idea around 2012 when Adobe began to implement such feedback. Thanks to that and several other similar examples, many organizations now see the value of regular check-ins, especially since the performance management process is so prone to negative feedback and disconnects between managers and employees. So, how can good performance management software use action steps, deadlines, and alerts to better manage company processes when it comes to regular check-ins?

First, during check-in sessions, it may be helpful to take the SMART goals that have been developed and break them into manageable pieces. The simple process of breaking up a goal can provide the clarity employees need to stop feeling overwhelmed and to make progress on the goal. That process can also give you and your employee the opportunity to identify any potential roadblocks. Keep these action steps documented in your performance management application so both employee and manager can refer to them as needed. 

Second, create a timeline for each of the action steps. Deadlines are a powerful way to kick the brain into action. In fact, the inherent stress of knowing there is a deadline can help employees perform better work. Don’t take that principle to the extreme though – this only works up to a certain point and managers will need to have good awareness of employee stress levels.

Alerts and Communication

Now that you have developed goals into action steps with various timelines, the goal management process has the potential of quickly becoming too complex to oversee. Let’s look at some goal management math. Suppose you have five employees, each of whom has four goals for the year. That’s a total of 20 goals for your team. Ten of those goals have three action steps that are due on different dates throughout the year (potentially up to 30 separate check-ins), and five other goals need to be checked more frequently, even monthly or weekly (that is another 60, or more, check-ins). That could represent over 100 different items that need to be tracked, in addition to everything else going on. How are you going to track that? Good performance management software, with clear reports, will make managing this process much easier.  

So, third, and related to the above point, there are two additional alert-related tools within a good performance management application that can make the process of monitoring and checking in on goals much easier for your managers. First, managers should be able to set up email reminders about upcoming check-in dates. Second, alerts should be activated that automatically notify the employee of any changes a manager makes to a goal. Of course, it’s best for the manager to notify the employee of the change in-person, but if that doesn’t happen, building this step into your process will prevent surprises later in the year.

Take a look at the included video with this post to see an example of how many of these features might work at your organization.

A final key variable to keep a pulse on is how well managers and employees communicate to one another. For example, no matter how well internal processes are set up, the tone each manager fosters during employee check-ins (in terms of being collaborative, open, and supportive) plays a critical role in whether or not employees feel engaged and excited to do their best work. Even when receiving constructive feedback about shortcomings, an employee can leave the conversation feeling motivated if the message is delivered in the right way.     


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