Giving Employees What They Need to Perform

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Why meeting the needs of employees throughout the performance management process is just as important as meeting their career development goals.

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Performance Management Meets Career Development


In a previous blog, I discussed identifying what drives or motivates your employees in their work-life to help facilitate a career discussion.

I want to discuss all of our innate needs around the performance management process in a similar vein. Meeting the needs of employees throughout the process is just as important as meeting their career development goals.

We conducted some research into how companies in the UK were approaching personal development. We found that many performance review processes had built-in failure points and drove employees away (31% of employees said they had left after their annual review). 

Looking at the study, we could see that the way line managers are forced to handle talent and performance reviews, and the personal development process doesn’t satisfy what neuroscientists see as the five deep-seated ways our brains work. These five needs (SCARF) are: Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness, and Fairness. They are based on the innate reward/threat response that is hardwired into our brains.

58% of employees have been surprised by their performance review and cited infrequent contact with their line manager as one of the significant issues. The frequency of both communication and feedback shows the employee that they matter (Status). It enables them to check that they are on the right track and that the decisions they have been taking have been the right ones (Certainty and Autonomy). It also minimizes the potential for surprises in the formal performance review (Fairness). The need for Relatedness is satisfied by another response – the desire to have feedback from other employees to understand their impact on other team members.

Over half of employees also stated they had been left in the dark when it comes to an understanding of how they contribute to the company’s purpose and that they don’t know about the career options open to them. This does not meet the Certainty and Status needs. As a result, almost a third did not feel fairly treated by how the personal development process is run. The majority of those surveyed also wanted to understand what their future career and contributions look like to learn and improve in areas required, giving them Certainty and Autonomy over their careers.

How employees learn matters too. Almost half want access to an online learning platform to learn at times to suit their lifestyle (Certainty and Autonomy). Employees also want feedback once they’ve implemented what they’ve learned (Certainty, Autonomy) and want to see examples of how colleagues have learned the same skills (Certainty) and be able to collaborate online with colleagues so they can discover together (Relatedness, Certainty).

Many of those surveyed said that they thought their organization did not value-line management enough to give managers the tools and skills needed to perform their jobs, leading to ineffective performance reviews completed as a tick box exercise. Employees want line managers to have the support they need to deliver effective personal development. The lack of support for line managers will continue to lead to disaffected and non-engaged employees. In turn, compound productivity issues the UK economy was already facing before Covid hit.

I’ve covered a very high-level summary of the findings we think are most important for you to think about with regards to your company’s performance review process.

If you would like to hear more about how our technology can enable more of what your employees need (SCARF) visit


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Bridge is a learning and performance platform that transforms organizations by bringing together learning, skills and performance in one unified experience.

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