Performance Management Tips for Early-Stage Companies
Updated: Jan 21
For early-stage companies, hiring the right people and then managing them can be difficult. This can be due to the fast-paced and generally ambiguous nature of the start-up environment. However, there are certain initiatives that can help you manage your direct reports in this environment.
1) Set micro-goals
We all have heard about the importance of goal alignment for employee engagement and productivity. However, cascading goals down to the individual level can seem like a hassle and waste of time if things are constantly changing. It is hard to set goals for 1, 2, or 5 years down the road when your bi-annual and quarterly goals constantly are adapted. Help combat this ambiguity by setting micro-goals (weekly or monthly) for your employees. This allows them to feel accomplishment and get the recognition for meeting their goals even if team goals and organizational goals change each quarter.
2) Give frequent feedback
Feedback is so crucial. Getting real-time feedback and being told that they need to improve & what they should continue to do is something that Millennials and Gen Z want. Overall these generations want 50% more feedback than other employees. Moreover, having feedback documented in one place where managers and direct reports can see past feedback will help motivate the direct reports and help streamline feedback conversations and performance reviews between employees.
If you are part of an early-stage company, Google Sheets can be sufficient to document feedback conversations. If your organization has more than 15 people, it may be time to consider a feedback tool.
You can check out these resources for more details:
3) Say thank you often
Find and celebrate small wins. Recognition plays a powerful role in motivating and engaging employees. It boosts morale and helps you build strong relationships with your employees. It also can increase employee retention. One study found that companies with employee recognition programs have a 31% lower voluntary turnover. A simple 'thank you' can go a long way.
Follow-up emails are not always a bad thing. Research found that managers who were deliberately redundant moved their projects forward faster and more smoothly. Over-communication can be important in driving projects and making sure that employees understand expectations and their objectives, but it can also be applied to the company mission and values. The bigger your company grows, the easier it is to feel like an individual’s work doesn’t have the impact it once did. Help people feel connected to the bigger vision by communicating the organization's vision, mission, and values often.
It is also important to note that your first employees have the unique ability to shape your company culture. What are the skills and behaviours that your company values? How are wins celebrated? How are failures handled? How do team members communicate? How are problems resolved or swept under the rug? Communicating clearly and often how these are handled are important as your company scales up.
If you liked this article, you might also like our guidebook Performance Management for Startups. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions!