April 12, 2021
Rebecca East

Focus on the right conversations, at the right time with Talking Points

Our users told us they wanted us to make it easier for them to get straight to the heart of performance management conversations on a regular basis, so we’ve created a brand-new feature called Talking Points that will help them do exactly that.

Remote work and management have grown rapidly over the past 12 months - with some organisations operating 100% remotely, and others hybrid – it has never been more important to ensure your teams stay connected and that performance conversations do not fall by the wayside. Your employees’ needs come in many different shapes and sizes. But right now, as businesses navigate a return to the office in one way or another, frequent check-ins are vital to staying on top of employee needs and driving productivity across your workforce.

Talking Points: a structured way to have regular employee performance conversations

Talking Points enables employees to consider their session ahead of one-to-ones with their managers and assign ‘Talking Points’ that they’d like to structure their conversation around. Keeping performance management conversations focused, to the point and time conscious.

The aim of this is to have the right conversation at the right time and discuss key factors that will drive an individuals performance in which thoughts, action plans and feedback can be shared. For example:

  • Performance priority. Is there a specific challenge that needs to be supported?
  • Wellbeing. Is there an area that needs attention?
  • Recognition. Reviewing feedback given or received across the organisation
  • Evaluation of a Key Driver. If they’re feeling unsatisfied with an area of their work/life Blend, how can you work together to ensure progress is made before productivity takes a dip?

There is also a free text field, enabling the employee to table ad-hoc factors impacting performance such as a holiday or project handover.

Why is Talking Points important?

Talking Points is important because it facilitates more meaningful conversations between managers and their employees.

With so many people still working remotely, regular and structured check ins with your team are vital to staying on top of productivity and driving performance. For you all to succeed, it’s crucial you remain connected; keep each other up to date on performance progress, monitor wellbeing and make sure no one’s falling behind.

How does Talking Points facilitate these conversations?

Firstly, our new Talking Points feature ensures that your one-to-one discussions with your employees are more focused. They are employee led, making sure that you’re having the right conversations

with them at the right time. No more wasting thirty minutes on an unstructured conversation that does not get to the heart of key concerns and issues that might be developing under the surface.

By making the process employee led (i.e., they choose what they’d like to talk about during their one-to-one), engagement levels are going to go up. This will lead to more open, honest, and productive conversations. Plus, managers will be better able to understand the priorities of their employees and to provide more tailored support in areas where employees feel like they need it the most.

It is also beneficial to managers in that it helps streamline the performance process; with Talking Points you can get right to the heart of the exchange and hold productive performance management conversations in less than 30 minutes.

Perhaps most importantly, though, Talking Points allows you to schedule regular check-ins which then contribute to an ongoing, open-ended conversation about productivity, performance, and progress.

Why are regular check-ins better than annual reviews?

So much can change over the course of a year, so much can change over the course of a day!. If you only sat down at the end of every twelve months, think how much you’d have to cover. That can quickly become overwhelming for staff, who may feel like the process is turning into more of a judgement than a review, or else, you might skip over important topics because you have too many boxes to tick and not enough time.

This is another reason why the annual appraisal process is becoming increasingly outdated in the eyes of managers and employees – often, they are impersonal and more about the paperwork than the people.

Talking Points turns all that on its head and instead encourages managers and staff to have real, two- way conversations. These conversations should include setting performance goals, which need to be monitored regularly to make sure targets are being met and that they are still relevant. Re-evaluating just once a year doesn’t give you or your employees enough flexibility to evolve.

Talking Points also changes your approach to employee performance management; instead of it being retrospective, you can make it forward focused, which puts a more positive slant on the process and leads to an increase in productivity. As Gartner recently pointed out, making performance reviews forward-looking can increase employee performance by 13%.

Our top tips for using Talking Points

  • Make employees aware of this feature which allows them to set their priorities for the upcoming 1 to 1 and encourage them to use it.
  • Schedule regular sessions using Talking Points as the basis of your ongoing performance discussions so you can monitor progress towards objectives and check in with regards to employee wellbeing, feedback and other Key Blend Elements.
  • Prioritise the topics raised (or concerns highlighted) by your employees.
  • Don’t engage in passive listening; take their thoughts and feelings on board, use the coaching prompts to actively participate in sensitive discussions to devise solutions
  • Ask for feedback. Does Talking Points work better for them than previous review formats?

How can you ensure your one-to-ones are productive?

Our new Talking Points feature helps managers to connect with their teams by providing structure for one-on-one employee appraisal sessions. Using OpenBlend performance management software you can be confident you are talking about the things that really matter. Even when you have limited time available.

To discover the positive impact that Talking Points can have on productivity and performance, both at an individual and an organisational level, book a free demo today or get in touch on 01628 613040 or email hello@openblend.com for more information.

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