How HR Can Strengthen Manager Performance: A Practical Guide

Feb 8, 2024 | HR Trends, Performance Management

In the modern workplace, HR’s role has been shifting dramatically. Increasingly, HR is focusing on mentoring managers in becoming more effective leaders. Manager engagement and performance directly influences employee engagement, productivity, and well-being. In fact, a manager’s performance accounts for 70% of the variance in employee engagement, Gallup has found. (This is such a big deal that Gallup considers it their most significant finding of all time.)

In turn, the success of managers depends on HR’s effectiveness in shaping their growth. By cultivating managerial excellence, HR plays a crucial role in promoting their organization’s success.

In this article, we’ll discuss how to modernize your performance management process and provide beneficial feedback for managers. We’ll then discuss how to set great performance goals and KPIs for managers, and how to leverage tools like 360 reviews to enhance growth.

Table of Contents

1. Reimagining Performance Management

2. Strategic Feedback: Fostering Managerial Growth

3. KPIs and Goal Setting: Aligning Aspirations with Organizational Objectives

4. 360-Degree Feedback: Crafting a Comprehensive View

Reimagining Performance Management

In a McKinsey survey, half of all respondents said their current performance management techniques aren’t helping their employees and organizations improve. Today’s HR should introduce next-generation performance management strategies to their organization, McKinsey stresses. Here are a couple of critical areas of focus.

Make Feedback a Dialogue

The modern performance management process emphasizes continuous improvement based on regular feedback and guidance. To promote managers’ success, HR should teach them to effectively share constructive criticism that catalyzes growth. 

Urge managers to balance constructive criticism and guidance with recognition of strengths. “Praise in public, censure in private,” as the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) says. “Nothing uplifts people more than being publicly recognized for their achievements.” During team meetings, managers can give people shout-outs for their achievements and ask them to share something they’ve learned from the process.

Guide managers on how to approach feedback by starting a conversation rather than delivering a monologue. This will help employees think critically about opportunities for growth rather than just following orders. Walk them through some helpful prompts for launching these conversations:

  • “Can you walk me through your approach to this project? Why did you choose that method?”
  • “I have some suggested changes for the report you’ve drafted. Can we discuss them one by one to make sure we’re in alignment?”
  • “I overheard your conversation with your coworker, and your tone seemed to be getting a bit heated. Can we discuss how to effectively resolve this issue?”
  • “You haven’t seemed to have your usual level of energy for the past couple of weeks, and I think it’s been affecting your work. Can we talk about what would help you bounce back?”

In such ways, managers can promote critical thinking that grows employees’ problem-solving muscles. Next, let’s explore how HR can provide tools that support managers’ efforts.

Implement Intuitive Tools

HR should implement intuitive performance management solutions that support managers in identifying concerns. These tools will help them provide the right feedback to proactively address the most crucial issues. 

Primalogik’s performance management software allows managers to track progress toward goals, for instance. In doing so, this tool helps them appropriately praise employees and share advice when needed. It also shows them which employees need the most support—and who the highest achievers are. In turn, this guides them in assigning responsibilities and leveraging the right learning opportunities.

Additionally, HR can provide tools for sharing feedback in the moment. Instant feedback tools allow employees to correct course in real time, avoiding costly mistakes and wasted efforts.

Through these upgrades, you’ll strengthen the performance management process. Next, learn how to support managers’ growth by sharing feedback with them.

Strategic Feedback: Fostering Managerial Growth

HR giving feedback to managers for career development.
Credit: fauxels/Pexels

Managers need plenty of feedback to support their own growth as well. Hence, HR should also integrate more frequent and meaningful feedback for managers into their development. To provide relevant input and guidance, reflect on performance goals for managers. In particular, this feedback can nurture managers’ growth in the following key areas.

Cultivating Human Skills

HR should coach managers on developing emotional intelligence (EI) and human skills. Growing self-awareness and the ability to regulate their own emotions will grow their EI. Building empathy by considering how others are thinking and feeling will also expand it. Managers should hone their communication skills, including their ability to give and receive feedback. The ability to calmly resolve conflict and solve problems will prove crucial to their success as well.

Enhancing Engagement and Motivation

Managers should learn to help employees tap into intrinsic motivations in their work. This means identifying what they most enjoy or find meaningful about their job. It also means involving employees in setting goals for their work, which will boost motivation as well. Establishing weekly team and individual objectives, then providing daily feedback on progress, will further strengthen engagement. HR should coach managers on how to take these steps, sharing constructive input on their efforts.

Removing Barriers to Success

Managers must work to remove barriers to success for their direct reports. So, prepare them to help employees navigate various types of challenges. From interpersonal conflicts to mental health concerns, managers must understand when and how to thoughtfully intervene, as HR Director says. They must also learn how to create an inclusive environment that enhances everyone’s psychological safety. Asking others for their thoughts, then listening carefully, will help create this inclusive culture.

Manager Performance Review Examples

Let’s review some examples of feedback a manager might receive in a performance review or one-on-one. HR leaders can reflect on these manager performance review examples as they prepare input for them.

“This manager ensures the team stays motivated and focused, exceeding expectations on all projects. The team’s productivity has risen substantially under this individual’s leadership. Each direct report is fully engaged in the available training opportunities and has a high level of job satisfaction. These factors speak to the manager’s effectiveness as a leader.”

“This manager is too aloof and disconnected from direct reports’ work. Workflow has been suffering and the team is missing deadlines as a result. If this individual were more dialed into the team’s daily work, employees could receive more meaningful feedback and guidance that keeps them on track.”

“This manager is very personable and compassionate, prioritizing employees’ well-being. However, direct reports need more constructive feedback; sugarcoating the truth isn’t benefiting their growth. This individual should be more forthright, sharing helpful pointers and tough advice when necessary.”

Now, let’s examine how to set goals and KPIs for managers.

KPIs and Goal Setting: Aligning Aspirations with Organizational Objectives

An employee and a manager aligning personal and organizational objectives
Credit: Anna Shvets /Pexels

Having clear and relevant goals and KPIs will drive managers’ progress. Hence, HR should help managers adopt a meaningful goal-setting process. Strong performance goals for managers—and KPIs—must align with both the manager’s aspirations and the company’s strategic direction. 

As an organization, set a practice of establishing cascading goals. This means that goals at each level support the goals of the level above—and, ultimately, the company’s goals. Managers should ensure that their personal goals will further the objectives of their department, boss, and organization. HR can schedule meetings with managers and leaders throughout the organization to help them set complementary goals.  

What are good KPIs for managers? Key performance indicators provide measurable evidence that managers have achieved a goal or met a key benchmark. Establish these metrics as you create goals, setting numeric targets. For example, “Train 20 employees in how to use the new X system. Achieve an 80% success rate in a test that gauges participants’ understanding.”

360-Degree Feedback: Crafting a Comprehensive View

360 feedback for managers can dramatically bolster their success. Why? They don’t always receive constructive feedback from the people they are managing. However, direct reports have an enormously valuable perspective on a manager’s approach and tactics. Coupled with feedback from peers and leaders, this input provides much-needed guidance that positively shapes their growth. SHRM provides a sample template for a 360 degree review for managers, covering topics like these:

  • Coaching style
  • Communication skills
  • Approach to diversity and inclusivity
  • Support for employees’ development
  • Integrity and trustworthiness
  • Ability to confront challenges effectively

360 reviews also allow HR to benchmark managers’ competencies, as the Center for Creative Leadership says. These tools establish a baseline so you can track growth and learn whether your developmental strategies are working.

Leverage tools that simplify the process of conducting 360 reviews. They’ll allow you to conveniently and economically gather 360 feedback multiple times a year for each individual, if desired. Through a streamlined process that features automated reminders and data analysis, you can continuously assess growth and provide highly relevant 360 feedback for managers.

Through these strategies, you’ll enhance managerial performance and get more from every team in your organization. You can leverage Primalogik’s suite of tools to facilitate the advanced performance management techniques discussed here. By doing so, you’ll get more impressive results from your performance management process, bolstering the success of each individual in your organization.

Learn more about how software can support manager success. Demo our product!

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