Managing performance. About as much fun as taking your car in for an oil change, new tires or a tune-up. But much like taking your car in for routine maintenance can help you avoid a costly repair down the road, regularly evaluating performance within your organization can help prevent costly side effects from underperforming, unsatisfied and unengaged employees. That is why it’s important to create a performance management experience that the entire organization can embrace – from employees and managers to HR administrators and executives.

The first step in this process is to understand the unique goals, objectives and expectations each audience has. In his blog last week, Ben Eubanks shared his thoughts on what employees want and expect from performance management. Next week, Mollie Lombardi will discuss what company leaders want, which leaves HR administrators for me (note: I also am including managers).

Let’s get REAL about performance

A 2015 Human Capital Institute study found that managers’ least liked workplace function behind firing employees was the traditional performance review. Along with open enrollment and year-end, performance review time is probably high up on the HR administrator’s least favorite time of year. So, what would change their viewpoint? For HR admins and managers, the performance management process needs to be R.E.A.L.

Relevant: what is more important – how an employee was performing 3 – 6 – 9 months ago or how he/she is performing today? Traditional processes require admins and managers to evaluate an entire year instead of present and future performance. If the worst kid on the team last year is now the best, are you going to determine if she should start based on how she played a year ago or how she is playing now? Performance reviews would be more relevant and insightful if they evaluated present and potential performance.

Engaging: filling out a questionnaire – whether on paper or online – is about as much fun as watching paint dry. Employees and managers dread completing traditional performance reviews, which makes the HR admin’s job of ensuring they are completed in a timely manner as easy as herding cats. According to an article in the Chicago Tribune, companies are trading in the mundane review form for a more modern and engaging experience via an app, social media-like tools or face-to-face performance check-ins. As an HR administrator quoted in the article said, performance management “has to be instantaneous because our world is instantaneous.”

Actionable: HR admins and managers want to be reap the benefits of performance management which include being able to: identify who the most productive employees are; allocate compensation based on performance; and drive continuous improvement. So, the data that is collected should be quantifiable, accessible and reportable.

Light: OK, I may be stretching the definition of light here for the sake of a good acronym, but what I mean by this is keeping the process simple, quick and painless. The always-on, always-connected world we live in has shortened our attention spans and our patience. Anything that takes too long or is complicated or boring, will be shoved aside until the last possible minute, putting HR admins – once again – in the uncomfortable, undesired and unproductive position of babysitter.

How to create REAL performance management

Honestly, REAL performance management is pretty much what we all want. The more relevant, engaging, actionable and light the process is for employees, the more REAL it will be for managers and HR admins. How can we achieve REAL performance management? The same way companies like GE, Accenture, Gap and Microsoft have:

  • Take a close look at existing processes
  • Obtain employee and manager feedback
  • Leverage technology to manage and report on performance

Over the past 25 years, there has been significant change in Corporate America. It’s about time performance management caught up.