Blending Engagement with Performance Management

For the past few years I’ve been immersed in the topic of employee engagement and have presented to multiple groups on the topic. People are always shocked at the metrics surrounding engagement – percentage of people disengaged and costs. However, they are not shocked at the urgency surrounding doing something about it, particularly given today’s marketplace.

A lot of research has been produced on employee engagement by widely known organizations like Gartner and Gallup. There’s tons of data out there. Recently, I was pleasantly surprised to learn of a new report from Gartner entitled Get Ready for the Convergence of Employee Performance and Engagement, in which they discuss the inevitable blending of these two human resource practices. Since I’m in the performance management business, this piqued my interest.

Perhaps it’s my background in process analysis and design, but it’s always seemed to me that you really can’t have one without the other and be successful at either. There are just too many overlaps and commonalities between the two. In fact, when I speak about this, I tend to blend the two. So, it was comforting to know that someone other than myself could see the connection.

In simplest terms, there are just a few things that employees look for in their work…besides a paycheck:

  • Job clarity and priorities
  • Ongoing feedback and communication
  • Opportunities to learn and grow
  • Culture of accountability

Any performance management solution worth its salt would have these bases covered in one way or another.

Conversely, from all the research that’s been done about employee engagement, you can boil it all down to a few key things companies can provide in their engagement programs.

  • Career opportunities
  • Feedback and recognition
  • Learning and development
  • Rewards and consequences (yes, I said it)

While employee engagement continues to gain steam, performance management systems and practices continue to evolve. Most changes to performance management solutions are being made with the goal of improving employee engagement, productivity, and retention.

Some early innovators took bold approaches and achieved mixed results. For example, some eliminated reviews and ratings entirely (I was skeptical). For some organizations this worked. For most, managers expressed frustration with driving accountability or justifying compensation allocations, while employees were left wondering about their ability to grow. Indeed many early adopters of this approach have now returned to some form of performance measurement or ratings.

At their core, performance management systems should include a competency management platform with defined roles, peer reviews, goal alignment, online learning, a way to measure effectiveness, and workflow to ensure accountability and feedback. See the connections?

On the horizon are systems which incorporate frequent coaching sessions, social feedback, robust recognition programs, pulse surveys, and utilization of assessment results from tools like DiSC, Myers-Briggs, and StrengthsFinders. The goal? Continued improvement of engagement, motivated employees and ultimately better performance.

What’s the future hold? My guess is we’ll know it when we see it.

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Jackie Messersmith is President and CEO of Talent Management LLC and Talent Snapshot®. Talent Management provides consulting services to small to mid-size businesses to put an employee engagement culture and aligned talent strategy in place. 

Talent Snapshot® utilizes our exclusive Talent Optimizations Process™ and competency management framework to provide our customers with a simple way to manage their talent. What really drives us is our promise to deliver a turnkey, affordable, integrated talent management software solution for small to mid-size businesses.

Jackie can be reached at 513-528-9700 or