Work-life integration and more flexible work arrangements are an increasingly important human capital strategy in a workforce that is changing due to demographics, technology and globalisation. 

Most employers understand the benefits of work-life integration — a more stable and loyal workforce, higher productivity and the ability to tap into a talent pool of people who can no longer work traditional hours due to family or personal commitments.

But when it comes to actually implementing flexible work arrangements, most local organisations find themselves in uncharted territory.

For flexible work arrangements to work, a company needs to have a fair and effective performance management and review process in place.

Part of the anxiety of flexi-workers is how their performance will be perceived and measured, especially when they are not present at the workplace.

Managers who are used to managing staff by being in close proximity to them and watching what they do will likewise be unclear how to manage their staff without “face time”.

These challenges can be overcome if managers know how to evaluate an employee’s performance more effectively.

Here are seven steps for creating a fairer and more effective performance management system, which takes into account the needs of employees on flexible work arrangements:

Outcome-based management

Employees working on flexible work arrangements should have their performance measured on outcomes rather than attendance or presence.

Managers need to realise that in today’s work environment, being at work is not the same as being engaged in work.

Managers need skills to manage by objectives and exceptions to lessen their reliance on “presence”.

They should also set expectations with staff so that they need not micro-manage a team that can monitor and regulate their own performance without being policed. 

Shared ownership

Another common mistake by management is to be fully responsible for performance management when they could share this responsibility with the staff.

Instead of struggling alone, smart leaders facilitate shared ownership with their staff by delegating certain aspects of performance tracking.

The staff will be aware of their own results and leaders can focus on their own effectiveness and time management.

Performance planning

Managers tend to spend more time doing the formal appraisals than focusing on aspects such as performance planning and coaching.

Managing performance is not an annual event but, rather, an annual process.

At the beginning of the performance cycle, it is important that managers set clear outcomes for their staff. Together with the staff, a clear performance plan that includes activities, processes and expected behaviours will help the team achieve its expected performance outcomes. 

Leadership mindset

In your organisation, do managers see their role as performance leaders or as bosses?

Managers who see their role as bosses often tend to focus more on the annual appraisal as an event.

Managers who see themselves as leaders invest time in communicating and managing performance continuously.

Good managers will focus less on appraising and critiquing performance and more time on performance planning and enhancement.

Measurement is not management

Measurement tools and expectations, although necessary, do not bring performance success.

Performance must be enabled through tracking, feedback, coaching and ongoing reviews.

Managers should equip themselves with the skills to track performance and instil disciplined self-monitoring by staff working on flexible terms.

It saves the leader time and increases the engagement of the staff. When a manager becomes an effective coach, it has a significant impact on the team’s performance. 

Evidence-based evaluation

For performance to be managed with objectivity, evidence-based data can be collected to support outcomes and behavioural expectations defined in the performance plan.

Like business indexes, performance can be evaluated through behavioural evidence.  

Sustainability

Effective performance practices can only work when an organisation employs a “sustainability” rather than “installation” mindset.

It is commonly assumed that installing performance tools is sufficient. A sustainability mindset, on the other hand, considers the linkages and inter-relationships among the various processes, systems and tools in the organisation.

It ensures that performance management is supported by the company’s systems and processes, including a socialisation process to embed it into the fabric of the organisation.

These seven practices can be effective when evaluating the contribution of workers in traditional roles doing standard hours, as well as employees working under more flexible arrangements. 

When done effectively, performance management will lead to a high standard of performance by all staff, regardless of their work arrangements.