Thank, Talk, Celebrate: 3 Pillars for a New Decade of Performance Management

January 7, 2020 Derek Irvine

3-minute read

two women talking

It’s 2020 – not only a new year, but a new decade. This is a powerful time for setting intentions and goals for the months to come. Over the past 20 years, we’ve learned that companies thrive when their grateful, human-centric cultures meet employees’ core needs, support work-life harmony, and establish an overall more positive employee experience.

This movement to work more human may have started with gratitude, but it’s far from ending there. To keep inspiring employees and transforming workplace cultures, continuous performance management should share the stage. This end-to-end approach to employee development and culture management relies on the confidence- and communication-building power of peer-to-peer feedback. Its informal, yet regular manager check-ins also help employees trust their managers (by more than 2x, according to our 2019 report).

And trust, fellow humans, is the glue that binds happy, engaged employees to thriving, growing organizations. So, what helps us trust? Thanking, talking, and celebrating. These three pillars can light the way for our noble intentions in performance and culture this year.

Thank: Express authentic appreciation.

Thanking is the foundation of my life’s work. It weaves gratitude, one of the most powerful human emotions, into the very life of a company. Everyone should be empowered to express authentic appreciation for a peer’s effort or behavior, up and down the organization. This means not only saying “thank you” when our colleagues help us specifically, but also noting when a person has gone beyond their job expectations in any meaningful way.

Employee recognition and continuous performance management work hand in hand to help people at all levels develop positive relationships at work. These very real human connections lead to a collective culture of positivity, which is proven to unlock and unleash the human potential resting just below the surface.

Talk: Communicate, grow, and encourage conversation.

Whether by email, Slack, video conference, phone, or meeting in person, the humans who innovate within our organizations are communicating on a continual basis. Giving them ways to grow and encourage one another as we all work toward common goals builds trust by establishing an open and deep dialogue. This is the basis of continuous performance management.

Without talking, there is no performance development. Learning how to do this effectively will help managers check in on performance goals and coach employees. And – no surprise here – people who check in with their manager at least weekly, as opposed to never, are 5x less likely to be disengaged.

Celebrate: Share human moments that matter.

When we celebrate each other – whether digitally or in person – we expose our most human selves. Sharing what matters most with our colleagues allows us to be vulnerable with them, ultimately connecting us more deeply. These human moments can be work anniversaries, new babies, and weddings. But they can also be gathering at a pub to send off a long-tenured co-worker with cheers and memories or offering our congratulations to an associate who just rented their first apartment close to work.

Celebrating meaningful moments and life events, from the major to the minor, means we regularly pause to show our connectedness, affirming our common values and showing regard for one another. 

When we thank, talk, and celebrate, we motivate and engage employees, making them more creative, innovative, and productive. We help our companies thrive by meeting core human needs and inspiring people to do the best work of their lives. And we create better workplaces for humans of all kinds by ensuring they feel appreciated, respected, and empowered to be who they are and to do their very best work.

Are there any workplace intentions or goals better than that? Not from my point of view.


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About the Author

Derek Irvine

Derek is senior vice president, client strategy and consulting, at Workhuman.

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