coaching vs. mentoring: how are they different

There is no question that the focus of performance management has shifted over the years from a traditional once-a-year sit-down with a manager to a more ongoing process where touch-points occur regularly and from multiple sources. The purpose is to increase the frequency, source and timeliness of feedback so employees can be acknowledged and developed when it matters most. Enabling and encouraging these touch-points is only the first hurdle. In order to ensure success with an ongoing performance management strategy, managers also need to be given direction on the focus and quality of this crucial feedback.

The best place to start is by understanding the difference between coaching and mentoring. Many think they are one in the same, but there are clear differences that all leaders need to be aware of to ensure they are driving the day-to-day performance of their teams while also securing the future leadership landscape of the organization.

4 Essential Differences between coaching and mentoring1:

Coaching Mentoring
1. Source Direct manager Individual outside direct reporting structure
2. Focus Performance & skills. Task-based Individual & career development
3. Frequency Short-term Long term
4. Structure Unstructured Structured



Coaching:  An employee’s coach is most frequently their direct manager but can also be a more experienced colleague. A coach is typically involved in the day-to-day happenings of an employee’s role or project and typically has authority to enforce compliance. A coach is often assigned and the employee has no say as to who it will be. In turn, the coach usually has little say in the relationship (unless they are involved in the hiring).

Mentoring: A mentor has no direct link to an employee’s coach or direct manager (i.e. isn’t a part the employee’s reporting structure) and is sometimes not even a part of the employee’s organization. A mentor is often selected by the employee and has no power to dictate action but instead to offer unbiased dialogue and guidance. There is no rule that states that a mentor should be older or more senior. The only criteria is that a mentor has more knowledge or experience in a given area than the mentee, understands the role of a mentor and is willing and available to share information.2 Sourcing and assigning mentors is a separate topic on its own but to summarize, any organization looking to implement a mentoring program within the organization should take into consideration those key points: that mentors are more experienced (not necessarily senior), is completely aware and committed to the roles and responsibilities of a mentor and the mentor is willing to share their experience. Establishing a formal mentoring program inside your organization is a great step towards increasing the quantity and type of feedback and advice that an employee receives.



Coaching:  Coaching helps an employee navigate day-to-day job tasks. Coaching also has a strict agenda: to sharpen an employee’s skill set with the purpose of reinforcing and/or improving the overall output of an employee’s performance in the short term. For instance; coaching would take place to help an employee improve their Excel skills, speaking skills, ability to process customer order more efficiently as well as to reinforce any positive behaviors and accomplishments.

Mentoring: Mentoring helps an employee navigate the long-term landscape of their profession or company so they can develop over time.  The focus of mentoring is individual and career development. It is driven by key relationships where an employee is given a safe space to discuss and develop the softer skills needed to advance their career. In a mentoring environment, employees can discuss underlying challenges in their role, company culture, work/life balance, and confidence and are given access to direction and first-hand experience from a more seasoned individual. Mentoring also helps to transfer the knowledge and habits of seasoned leaders to the next generation of leaders.



Coaching: Coaching takes place frequently and is not structured. Coaching could take place in a matter of moments at any time. For instance, after leaving a meeting, by the water cooler, or via a performance management feedback tool. The more frequent the coaching, the better and good coaches know that coaching is not only about improvement, it is also about acknowledgement. Reinforcing positive performance is just as important as closing performance gaps.

Mentoring: Mentoring on the other hand, is more of a long-term relationship with more structure than coaching. Typically, mentors and mentees make a point to get together for lunch or dinner at least once every few months. We have known mentees that have had the same mentor for 30 years and other who change every 12 months. What is comes down to again, is that the mentor and mentee understand and commit to the role of mentor/mentee and make an effort to connect when needed.

This doesn’t mean that the two roles don’t ever intersect. Sometimes coaches offer mentor-like advice and mentors deliver practical coaching tips. What this does mean is that organizations looking to develop a well-rounded, long term employee feedback and development strategy do need to think about how they plan to assign and recruit the right mixture of coaches and mentors to develop performance alongside the next generation of leaders.

1Source: The Differences Between Coaching & Mentoring by: Management Mentors

2Source: Effectively Assigning Mentoring Roles by: Insala


About the Author:

marnie_greenOur guest author is long-time emPerform partner, Marnie Green. Marnie is Principal Consultant of the Management Education Group, Inc. and is a leading expert in the management of public sector employees.  Her books, Painless Performance Evaluations and Painless Performance Conversations, are used worldwide by federal, state, and local government leaders.  Learn more at:

Experience Marnie in Action! Get the video: Driving Employee Performance through Year-Round Painless Performance Conversations

What kind of work-environment are you creating for employees?

I’ve been working out with my trainer, Max Reynoso, for several years now. I enjoy his high energy, calorie-burning sessions for the physical benefit, as well as the mental boost.  Regardless of my frame of mind when I arrive at the gym, Max is there to meet me where I am. He’s always positive, energetic and encouraging.  Working with Max is just good energy.

Sometimes my schedule doesn’t allow me to work out with Max, and I become a slave to the early morning treadmill instead. I don’t mind it as it gives me time to watch the interaction between other trainers and their clients. Through observation I’ve learned that not all trainers are like Max. Some never smile; others offer no words of encouragement. Still others just don’t pay attention to their clients’ needs. Honestly, if I worked out with these trainers, I’d be completely bored and probably discouraged.

shutterstock_188199647Comparing these observations to my experiences with Max, I’m reminded how impactful a leader can be towards those who follow them. Workplace leaders use the same behaviors as personal trainers to create an environment that is either motivating or de-motivating.

You have an opportunity to create an environment where employees want to work hard–to give their all.  Some leaders do just the opposite.  Here are a few things leaders do, sometimes inadvertently, to create an environment that produces lower levels of performance:

    • Focus on the problem rather than the opportunities.
      Great leaders stay positive–always.  When obstacles present themselves, they are tackled head on with enthusiasm. Focusing on problems and things that are wrong is a downer. Max always reminds me of the benefits of exercise instead of telling me I should do more.
  • Give little feedback and encouragement.
    Motivating leaders acknowledge the work of others. We all need to know that someone is noticing our hard work. We all need a little pat on the back when we’ve reached a milestone.  When we don’t get the feedback we crave, we wonder why we worked so hard. If Max and I can’t meet face-to-face  because of my work and travel schedule, he checks in with me to make sure I’m making good choices. If I have a bad day he just says, “Let’s get back on track.” He always says it with a smile. If the guy ever has a bad day, you wouldn’t know it.
  • Lose touch with the environment.
    Effective leaders are keenly aware of the environment in which they do their work.  The physical environment must support employees so they feel that they can do their best.  The emotional environment must be one in which everyone feels valued. Online retailer Amazon, was recently criticized in the New York Times for fostering a cutthroat work culture. The immediate response from CEO Jeff Bezos was that the article “didn’t describe the Amazon he knew.” Within two days of the article’s publication, over 5000 comments were posted online supporting the article’s claim.  This sounds like an out of touch leader to me.
  • Become monotonous.
    Motivating leaders change things up often.  Doing the same thing day after day, meeting after meeting, sales call after sales call, gets boring. Great leaders add competition, fun, and renewed energy.  Every time I work out with Max he surprises me with a new routine, new piece of equipment, or new challenge.  I may not always be excited to work out, but I’m never bored.

I’m back on track with Max after some time off. He shares my vision of being healthy and strong and reminds me every day that we share this common goal.  Come to think of it, Max is also a great team leader.  His team of trainers is one of the highest producing in the company. Great leaders also get great results.

Looking to inject some change into your performance management processes? Visit emPerform’s website and explore the tools available to help managers provide effective & ongoing feedback.

The HR press is filled with stories of companies that are abandoning their traditional Performance Management processes. But are we throwing the baby out with the bath water? Don’t Ditch that Performance Review – Reclaim it!

Join CRG emPerform and Edie Goldberg, Ph.D., principal of E.L. Goldberg & Associates, for this informative free on-demand webinar where you will learn which assumptions of traditional performance management need a modern day twist to help them be relevant again and what you can do to reclaim the process you rely on so heavily.

In this webinar you will learn:

  1. What traditional performance management assumptions are no longer relevant to a modern workplace.
  2. How you can replace traditional processes with new approaches that will help your organization thrive.
  3. 5 key areas of the performance appraisal to revamp.
  4. How today’s technology can go beyond automating a bad process to enabling a more dynamic process.

This webinar has passed. You can access the on-demand video here.

If you have any questions about this webinar or about emPerform, please contact us 1.877.711.0367

About emPerform: emPerform is trusted by organizations around the world to automate and streamline performance management, engage employees in ongoing performance dialogue, and align, develop, reward, and retain a modern workforce. Our award-winning software is easy-to-use and offers a complete suite of flexible talent management functionality: online appraisals, 360° reviews, succession, compensation management, reporting, surveys, social feedback + more. Learn more.

recycle-bgAs a provider of performance management software for the last 17 years, we can tell you without a doubt that traditional performance management processes, especially those that have been left out to fester over decades of business operations, can stink. We are never surprised when we encounter performance management processes that were set up with the best of intentions but never panned out to their full potential or even stagnated due to employee disengagement in the value of the system.

A Brandon Hall™ presentation on a new approach to talent management illustrates the ways in which traditional annual appraisal-based performance management processes can actually harm employee performance. Employees and managers come into their annual appraisals ill-prepared and unclear of expectations and leave with mixed reviews from subjective opinions based on inaccurate data.1

In recent years, the topic of the effectiveness and validity of performance management as a once-yearly appraisal process has come to the fore. Companies today tend to hire those with the strongest potential to align themselves with company values and objectives, so there is no longer the need to simply weed out the bottom performers once a year. Performance issues need to be addressed as they arise, and not allowed to continue until the end of the year. Managers cannot be expected to provide a blanket ranking on an entire year’s worth of performance at once (often on a forced distribution scale) and so meetings with employees can be uncomfortable for both parties. Employees today work with more than one group or leader and so a single manager simply cannot provide accurate feedback on performance.2, 3

Traditional performance management processes fail when they remain static and formal with the once-yearly meeting with only one manager to review goals set at the beginning of the year and probably not considered since. But does this mean that you should dismantle your entire review process? Absolutely not! It’s likely that your performance management process just needs a little tweaking, and it’s an easy fix if you simply add in one single element: continuous feedback.4

Transforming your organization’s review process in one easy step:

Adding year-round feedback to your process can be as formal or informal a step as you like. Instead of meeting with your employees only once a year, try touching base with them quarterly, monthly, or even weekly to monitor their progress on goals and projects. Use this time as well to provide the coaching and feedback that will allow employees to adapt quickly to a changing reality and address small issues before they become bigger problems that affect your bottom line.

Keeping notes on these regular check-ins will allow managers to get a better picture of an employee’s performance over the course of the year and will make any necessary rankings easier to calculate and far more accurate. To enhance the quality of this feedback you can encourage peers and other leaders to do the same, either through formalized 360° reviews or more casual social feedback happening in real-time. This is the sort of activity that is probably going on in your workplace anyway, but in adding it to your performance management process you can keep track in a way that will ultimately improve your employee’s performance. These forms of structured and unstructured continuous feedback ensure that milestones are recognized, goals and objectives are properly tracked, and potential problems are nipped in the bud. It’s a small change with a BIG impact.

Why not see for yourself how easy it is to incorporate continuous feedback into your performance management process?

Whitepaper: The Changing Face of 360° Reviews

Explore emPerform’s 360° review and year-round feedback features


A New Approach to Managing Talent Laci Loew, Brandon Hall Group 8 May 2015.

Time to Scrap Performance Appraisals? Josh Bersin, Forbes Magazine 6 May 2013.

Appraisals: Abandoning the bell curve Apeksha Kaushik, 11 May 2015.

Continuous Feedback: It May Be a Better Approach than the Annual Review Kristi Erickson 22 August 2012.

emPerform SMART goals

Looking to set the best goals possible for employees? Make sure that your goals are high but achievable. Here is how to strike a good balance!

How can you tell if an employee’s goals are aggressive, but still attainable? How do you keep things fair while still pushing your team to perform better?

Finding the right balance between ambition and realism is a constant challenge for HR specialists and managers. However, not finding the right balance can undermine an employee’s performance. If you find yourself struggling to find a balance when it comes time in your employee evaluations to set goals, then here are a few things you should consider.


Start with SMART Goals

If you’re in the HR space, then chances are good that you have heard of SMART goals. If you aren’t 100% sure what a SMART goal is, then here is a breakdown:

S = Specific

M = Measurable

A = Attainable

R = Relevant

T = Time-bounded

You may have noticed that “Attainable” is (literally) at the center of a SMART goal. Another way to think of it, however, is that in order to be attainable, a goal also needs to be specific, measurable, relevant and time bound. In other words, don’t set a goal that is ambiguous, like “be one of the top salespeople.” Instead, say something along the lines of “you need to sell x amount this product by the end of the month.”


Factor in Past Performance

Sticking with the example of the salesperson, if your business has been around for 20 years and you have never had a salesperson increase their sales by more than 10% in one year, then why would you goal someone at a 25% increase year over year? While there are certainly some scenarios in which this may make sense, they would be the exception to the rule. Take a look at past employee evaluations and make sure to factor in an employee’s historical performance along with what other, top performing employees have done in the past, and set your goals accordingly.


Give Them the Tools They Need to Succeed

Goals are only attainable if an employee has the tools and resources needed to achieve them. Does the employee need to take additional training in order to meet a goal, for example? If you are setting ambitious goals, then make sure that you can provide the following:

1.            Regular communication

2.            Milestones and deadlines

3.            Making resources available (human, equipment, and materials)

4.            Periodically review the process as well as the progress

5.            Willingly revise and improve the process when necessary


Final Thoughts

Setting ambitious goals is important for an employee’s performance. After all, if they aren’t constantly challenged, then chances are good that the quality of their work will decline. Both the performance evaluator and employee must fully understand, agree, and sign-off on the goals set down.


If you would like to give managers and employees the tools they need to create and track SMART goals, explore emPerform’s easy-to-use online performance management software suite.

Worried that some of your best employees are restless and thinking of other options? Follow these talent management tips to identify them before it’s too late.
shutterstock_63635614The cost of replacing a member of your team can be high, which is why spotting a restless or unhappy employee before they jump ship is so important. Identifying a dissatisfied employee can be a big talent management challenge, however. After all, what it they are just having a bad week? What if they are too much of a professional to show any obvious signs of dissatisfaction? Or what if a particular project is putting them in a foul mood? In this post, we will take a look at some of the red flags that will help you spot restless employees.

Employee Satisfaction by the Numbers

Before discussing how to identify a restless employee, there are a few statistics that you should take into consideration. A survey from Officevibe shows that approximately 88% of employees “have no passion for their work.” The same survey showed that about 80% of senior managers are similarly dispassionate. This shows how employee satisfaction is a bigger talent management issue than most people think; one that ends up costing businesses a lot of money. In fact, the Officevibe survey suggests that about $500 billion dollars of the US economy is lost each year due to a lack of engagement. While disengaged employee isn’t necessarily going to leave, a lack of engagement is often the first step to them exploring other options.

Spot the Red Flags of A Restless or Unhappy Employee

Employee shows a decline in performance. This is perhaps the most obvious red flag. If an employee doesn’t plan on being with your organization for much longer, then why give 100%? Of all of the identifiers, this one should be the most black and white since it should show up in your performance reports.

Withdrawal from interactions and communication with managers and coworkers. A restless employee isn’t just disengaged from their work – they are disengaged from their coworkers and managers as well. Keep an eye out for a lack of socialization or assess the situation with engagement surveys.

Consistently Doing the Bare Minimum. To be clear, an employee probably won’t be able to give everything 100% all of the time. If they are consistently doing the bare minimum when it comes to projects and everyday tasks, however, then they may be considering other options.

Their Co-Workers Complain About Them. While a dissatisfied employee may be making an effort to hide their restlessness from HR and their manager, they are less likely to do so with their coworkers. If an employee who used to get along fine with their colleagues and never gave them cause to complain suddenly is the target of complaints, then chances are good that they are thinking about leaving.

You Still Need a Backup Plan

Proper talent management means planning for those worst case scenarios to avoid losing valuable employees. Even if you are on the lookout for restless employees, you may not always be able to identify them and win them over before they decide to leave.

This is why it’s important to have performance management tracking in place to easily identify your top performers to ensure all efforts are being made to keep them happy and retained. It is also important to have an effective succession plan in mind – so that if you do lose a team member,  you can work to minimize the impact on your organization.

bandaidPainless Performance Evaluations: It’s Time to Rip-Off the Band-Aid

Do you dread facilitating performance evaluations? Is completing your organization’s evaluation form a nightmare? Ever wonder what it takes to get your employees to “go the extra mile?” Performance evaluations don’t have to be painful. With a plan and a few simple tools, every manager or supervisor can use the practice of performance management to multiply results.


If you didn’t make it for the live online event, fear not! This webinar is available on-demand and discusses how you can help your organization’s managers rip-off the Band-Aids of ineffective performance reviews in order to:

  • Achieve organizational objectives
  • Develop the skills and capability of employees
  • See greater productivity with higher quality outcomes
  • Convey clear performance expectations for each employee

marnieBased on the much-anticipated live webinar series ‘Painless Performance Evaluations’ and best-selling book, author and speaker, Marnie Green will deliver practical and easy-to-implement changes that your organization can use to achieve painless and effective performance management.


This live webinar has taken place – get the on-demand video here.

Looking to make performance reviews as painless as possible? Click here to request a free trial of our award-winning online employee performance management software or request a live one-on-one demo today.

Even if your company is not currently in the market for a team of entertaining mercenaries, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be focusing on actively identifying and developing all-star employees and giving management the tools needed to form their own A-Teams.

Technically, organizations should strive to have nothing but all-stars on their talent roster; however, chances are that most companies are lucky if 10%-20% of their workforce is labeled as ‘high-performing’ (there are many process-related reasons that account for this but that is a whole other discussion). Unless you are willing to settle for an organization filled with B and C Teams, you need to get tactical about the way you identify and develop top talent.

the a-team
By Stephen J. Cannell Productions / Universal (originally NBC)
(The A-Team) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The first thing to consider is employee performance vs. employee potential. Historically, employee performance was the main driver in determining succession, rewards, and recognition; however, recent years have shed light on the importance of considering employee potential when creating development plans and performance strategies. Think of it this way – a seed doesn’t look like much next to a plant but invests a little time and energy into it, and it has the potential to become a flower or one of those neat plants that kill flies. You should think of identifying your all-stars along the same dimensions – who is great now and who can be even greater sooner?

The difference between high-performers and high-potentials:

High-performers give an immediate return on investment, with estimates averaging from more than 50% additional value to as much as a 100% increase in productivity over average performers. i

High-potentials are typically defined as those demonstrating high-level contributions, organizational values, the potential to move up to an identified position within a given timeframe, and the potential to assume greater responsibility. i For example, some organizations operationally define high-potential employees as those who are able to assume greater responsibilities within the next two years and who exhibit a history of high-performance and leadership potentials; also may be defined as employees who are able to advance two leadership levels within 4-8 years and who score well on various assessment criteria.iv

Most high-performers are not high-potentials BUT all high-potentials are high-performers.iii

The second thing to consider is a way of mapping performance vs. potential data in a way that allows you to quickly identify the performance status of employees and the organization as a whole. Luckily – the popular Nine-Box Talent Matrix does just that. It uses performance data from 360 reviews, performance appraisals, peer reviews, etc., and maps it along with the potential data from self-assessments, surveys, manager assessments, etc., and tada! A real-time snapshot of organizational health is available.

nine box potential vs. performance

As you can see – employees that are in the blue section need to be rewarded and retained! They are your A-Team – especially the top-performing/top-potential employees. Efforts should be made and strategies devised to hold onto those employees for as long as possible. Ensure that managers are aware of who these individuals are, how to make sure that they are properly engaged and satisfied in their roles, and what positions they are primed to grow into.

Employees located in green are your B-Team. They should be strategically developed and monitored in an effort to push them to the next level. Managers should be prepared to assess what is preventing better performance or how to handle high-performers with low potential.

Employees in purple are special cases. They are either all performance or all potential. One-on-one meetings with the employee should be conducted to assess their level of engagement and historical data should be revisited to locate possible trends or recent dips in performance or potential. Efforts should be made to answer. What is going on with this employee, can it be remedied, and how? Is the employee not given enough performance feedback? Have they been given the opportunity to show potential? Are they engaged in their current role? Etc. For some, staying in the purple is completely acceptable. An example that comes to mind is highly technical roles where an employee works at peak performance but has no desire or does not possess the capacity to move into a higher position.

Lastly, people in orange can be problematic. Are the low-performing / low potential employees at the right place? What is preventing them from performing, why do they have such a low potential? Is this a problem of motivation? How long have they been working there? Are they just waiting for a better opportunity? How driven were they in the past? Many things should be considered and acted upon – quickly.

I have read a few online posts that claim manually mapping the matrix is possible but to be honest – I pity the fool who attempts it (couldn’t help myself). There are far too many variables (appraisal results, 360 results, self-assessment criteria, etc.) that should be included to attempt an accurate mapping. Why not let technology do the work for you? With an automated EPM software solution then there is no need to map this out manually as the software automatically imports the results from appraisals, assessments, surveys, development plans, etc. into the matrix. If you are using an automated talent matrix, then opt for one with an adjustable performance vs. potential sliding scale so that a more accurate drill-down of performance can be conducted to suit each department or role. CRG emPerform’s succession manager offers the Nine-Box talent matrix with this sliding scale.

i. Corporate Leadership Council, Executive Summary, February 2005. William D. Koch, Directions: Closing the Gap Between the Best and the Rest, Development Dimensions International, 2007.

ii. Corporate Leadership Council, Literature Key Findings, Washington: Corporate Executive Board, 2003.

iii. Corporate Leadership Council, Guidelines for Using a Nine-Box Matrix, Washington: Corporate Executive Board, July 2005.


 All The A-Team characters and logos and the distinctive likeness(es) thereof are Trademarks & Copyright © 2010 Univeral Television. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

candy crush
image courtesy of wikipedia

Business lessons can sneak up in the oddest of places. Even viral online games can give us insight into important organizational processes. I’m not afraid to admit it…my sister’s friend’s cousin’s co-worker is addicted to Candy Crush Saga. For those unfamiliar, it is a highly addictive game where you work your way through levels by matching up different types of candies – sort of a mix between Connect Four and Tetris – but with bright candy bits and really upbeat sound effects.

I’ve been playing…I mean my sister’s friend’s cous…ok it’s me! Anyways, I’ve been playing this game off and on for a few months. Some of the levels are really tricky and cost me all of my lives – but somehow, despite no promise of success, I keep playing over and over. Why? First of all it’s fun and secondly I’m stubborn. But the more I thought about it, I realized that another reason is the game comes standard with some pretty motivating features that keep me working through level by level.  It all of a sudden struck me that organizations can actually take some helpful cues from this game and implement them into a great set of guidelines for effective performance management.

What lessons Candy Crush can give us about performance management:

Clear goals are key. Every level in the game starts with an animated screen that clearly identifies the objective of that level –  ‘clear all jellies,’ ‘get 30,000 points in 1 minute’…you get the point. Right there on the screen before I even get started I know what I have to do, what I have at my disposal to do it with (# of moves or time) and what the result will be if I achieve the goal (unlock the next level). The exact same principals should be applied to employee performance goals. Clear and specific goals let employees know what has to be done and how to accomplish it, setting measurable outcomes lets them know how the goal will be tracked, and a defined result lets them know what will be achieved if the goal is accomplished – whether it’s company or personal benefits.

image courtesy Forbes and owned by King Digital
image courtesy Forbes and owned by King Digital

Timely feedback goes a long way. During the game, if I make a good move or rack up some points, a deep voice says positive things like ‘delicious’ or ‘tasty’. This was quite off-putting at first and sometimes can be a little annoying but all in all, it’s nice to have someone notice when I make a good move – other than just me of course. I’m definitely NOT suggesting that managers walk around saying ‘tasty’ to employees (don’t do that!) but timely if not instant feedback is vital to a well-oiled performance management strategy. Employees want to know when they are doing well as they do it – not 10 months down the road when it’s time for a formal performance review. Incorporating ongoing feedback & coaching can be the difference between employees giving it their all year-round or quitting after the first level. On the other end of the spectrum, if I do fail to complete a level, a crying emoticon pops up and says ‘you failed’. That’s pretty harsh but to follow suit, if managers are responsible for giving timely feedback, that means all feedback – not just the good stuff. Again, I would not suggest standing up, pointing, and shouting, ‘you failed’ to employees but when employees fall short of a goal, they should know how and why and be given the coaching they need to regroup and try again.

Not all achievements are the same and nor should they be rewarded as such. I passed level 20 with one star while Joe-other-player passed but made enough good moves that he earned 3 stars. We both achieved the same goal – but he did better and was rewarded as such. Tying performance directly to rewards in an organization helps ensure accomplishments are rewarded based on effort and results – instead of for simply going through the motions.

All work and no play takes a toll on overall performance. Candy Crush is unique in that you get 5 lives. If you lose them, you have to wait 30 minutes for a new life to regenerate unless you ask other players to share one or shell out some cash to buy some. I have to admit sometimes this really bothers me. I’m in the zone and I want to keep playing but overall it’s probably a good thing because it forces me to move on and focus on other things – like life. The same logic is true for performance management. Employees should be encouraged to keep a proper work-life balance. Hard work and dedication is certainly vital to an employee’s overall career and to an organization achieving success; however, too much work can result in employee burnout and reduced efficiency over time. Managers should recognize when an employee’s 5 lives are up and make sure they take the time to regenerate.

Everyone needs a booster: So, not to toot my own horn but I’m pretty amazing at this game. I think before every move, often complete the level in less moves than are allocated and have advanced pretty far. That being said, sometimes I need a little help and have to rely on the game’s ‘boosters’ which give me an advantage if I use them. Sometimes it’s an extra move, other times it’s the ability to swap-out pieces. Even your star employees need a booster once in a while. Nobody can be good at everything all the time. Managers need to keep an eye out for any opportunities to assist and employees should be aware of what boosters are available to them should they need a little help completing their goals.

Peers that share, win! Remember I said that if you run out of lives in the game you can ask other players? You can also ask others for boosters and in every level, other player’s scores are posted front and center so you can see how they did and their advancement in the game. I think this is a great system and should be interpreted for use in company performance management. Two heads are always better than one and five heads better than two. Employees who can rely on each other for help are more likely to meet their individual and team goals. Not only that, but transparency in performance via rewards or company recognition helps motivate performance.

Important business processes like performance management don’t have to be confined to the four walls of a boardroom or discussed in a vacuum – we encourage all organizations and managers to think outside the box and refer to anything they have encountered in their daily lives which has resulted in keeping people on track and motivating them to perform and succeed. In this case, Candy Crush Saga is a great example and these helpful guidelines can help transform your talent management strategy into something pretty …sweet…which ultimately gives you happy, motivated, and highly-efficient employees.

images courtesy of wikipedia and forbes and are owned by King Digital

“Candy Crush Saga” and related marks and references are trade marks of Ltd or related entities

Low performersAnnual performance review time is right around the corner for many companies, and for most managers and employees, the process will be smooth, positive, and largely ceremonial. But in every department, managers face a few performance reviews that keep them awake at night with dread. Low-performing employees tend to induce a series of mild headaches throughout the year, but at review time, they really put their supervisor’s managerial skills to the test. Here’s a list of ways to get over the hurdles and navigate the challenges presented by struggling employees. Read More