How a Performance-Obsessed Management Hurts Employee Engagement

How a Performance-Obsessed Management Hurts Employee Engagement

All industries are competitive, and companies always must step up their game to be one step ahead. That is why HR professionals and recruitment firms are inclined to hire more talented individuals.

Naturally, everyone in the company is pressured to perform, but it seems like the ones who are on the bottom end of the hierarchy are the ones feeling the overwhelming work.

It’s not a new practice for companies to focus on employee performance. After all, when your employees work hard and produce excellent results, your business thrives, too. However, it’s also common that most companies tend to focus on it solely.

There are now lots of ways for management to monitor their employees like setting up office cameras, implementing strict time tracking, and utilizing other equipment that can keep tabs on what they do throughout the day, especially on their computers and laptops.

Whether the intention is to keep workers safe or improve productivity, it may also be a way to make sure the management is getting ROI. What they are unaware of though is that these strategies may be affecting employee performance negatively.

 

Employees are Human

Sometimes, it may feel like companies forget that they are dealing with people—humans who have their own personality, have lives outside of work, and have people whom they care about.

This metric-based way of measuring employee success often reduces the human resources as mere numbers, which is never pleasant for anybody. Your employees’ worth is measured not just by their productivity and what they have contributed to your business.

 

The Struggle is Real

Being watched over like a hawk on a prey never feels right. That may be stressful enough, but it can actually double up when employees understand that achieving low numbers could put their employment in peril.

When you put a number on the worth of your employees, and they end up not living up to that despite the constant monitoring, they would start feeling detached, lose morale, and end up underperforming even more.

They would also likely find respite on other corporations that would better treat them like a human, which in turn, would increase turnover for your company.

 

Not Every Employee is the Same

Management must understand that employees have their own work habits that are effective for them. Uniqueness doesn’t only encompass personality. Sometimes, it’s the entirety of the person. Time tracking and process optimization have this unexpected side effect of forcing employees to work in similar styles.

If there’s one mode of operation which employees have found to cut time in half or is more effective than others, chances are, everyone would opt for it, but not everyone would see it as practical with their existing working style.

Homogenizing your workforce by unintentionally forcing them into a single method may also alienate a large part of that force.

 

Development Takes a Backseat

As a person, the worst thing that a single mode of operation at work can result in is the cease of growth—both in terms of their skills and personality. In reality, some employees rely on their jobs to provide the chance for development.

With no growth culture, performance and how it relates to employees’ skills are put on the spotlight. Naturally, they end up doing good with the tasks that call for their skills and underperform on those that they are unaware of, and that would reflect on their manager’s assessment.

People are inclined to hide, rationalize, or deny their shortcomings because it exposes them and makes them feel unworthy of the position. These fears limit their perspective, but with growth culture, how they feel about these flaws, and how they behave about it can be openly discussed.

Employees can see through blind spots, acknowledge insecurities, and need not defend their value. Everyone’s feelings become as important as how much they know.

 

Striking the Balance

Tracking progress and the impact of what people do can get things done. Performance-based evaluations and employee tracking are here to stay, but there is a way for it to focus on productivity and still make workers feel that the company values them.

These tips may help you set clear and appropriate objectives to improve employee performance.

  • Keep the metrics limited. Metrics are put forth to help managers focus on strategy execution. Five critical parameters are enough to cater for success, as too much will demotivate your workers.
  • Avoid purely financial metrics to determine long-term success. Such measurements like revenue or return on capital do not focus on the tangible enablers of corporate performance.
  • Make employees feel that they contributed to the company’s success through metrics. Ask them to come up with three team-level metrics that they believe will help in achieving the corporate goals and have them explain their contribution.
  • Do not tie metrics to bonus payments nor use it to assess, judge, or punish people. Instead, it should be used to see the impact of new ideas. If this approach works, push it forward and expand. Otherwise, pull the plug. It can be a great learning tool if it motivates people to come up with novel ideas.
  • Don’t institute tracking policies and requirements overnight nor use it as a factor in your decisions and evaluation.
  • Listen to your employees’ feedback on these systems and allow some flexibility. When they have a say in the workplace, they are happier.

Too much focus on numbers means disregarding the more subjective elements of the job such as personal attitude and team-based contributions. In some cases, it may not be the best, healthiest, or most sustainable way to push for success.

Utilize the methods we pointed out instead to reduce management complexity, foster employee growth, and focus on what really matters.


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Ron Cullimore