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Macorva is more than just a feedback platform. We are a tool for change, helping businesses enhance their performance, employee engagement, and customer satisfaction.
Nathan Childress, Founder & CEOSeptember 14, 20238 min read

Manager Enablement: The Future of Performance Management

In today's fast-changing business world, companies are always looking for new strategies to stay competitive and innovative. One big shift we're seeing is a transition from traditional performance management to an emphasis on manager enablement.
Performance management used to be all about the annual review, rankings, and tying ratings to compensation. It was a pretty top-down, rigid process. Manager enablement is different - it's about giving managers the training, resources, and support they need to really develop their people. The traditional approach aimed to hold employees accountable to preset goals. But it often lacked ongoing coaching and felt punitive when ratings were low. Manager enablement focuses more on collaboration, growth, and building trust between managers and their teams.
With enablement, managers learn how to have effective one-on-ones, give constructive feedback, and set goals focused on the employee's personal development. This leads to more engaged, invested employees. Annual reviews still have a role in making compensation decisions and providing feedback. But they shouldn't be the main event. Ongoing coaching and development is now seen as much more important for performance. The shift to enablement is a big change, but it holds a lot of promise. Companies that support manager success set their people up for success as well. And that pays dividends through improved retention, innovation, and results.
This article breaks down the big shifts in workplace strategies, with a spotlight on manager enablement. We’ll talk about how this new approach is changing the game in organizations.

What are Performance Management and Manager Enablement?



Performance management has traditionally been a key process for organizations to set goals, track progress, and give feedback to employees. The idea was to make sure everyone was working towards the same big-picture objectives. Annual reviews were a major part of formalizing this process. Employees frequently perceived performance management as inflexible and hierarchical. It was seen as more stick than carrot, with a focus on ratings and accountability over growth.
Manager enablement flips the script. Instead of just overseeing their teams, managers become coaches and collaborators. They get training and resources to have better one-on-one meetings, give constructive feedback, and nurture their team members' professional development. With manager enablement, the annual evaluation is not the focus. Ongoing mentoring takes center stage. This approach aims to empower employees and align their growth with organizational goals. But it does so through relationship-building and support rather than rigid tracking and ratings.
Performance management and manager enablement both want to promote improvement and alignment. But enablement does it through managers who are invested mentors rather than detached overseers. With some foresight and empathy from leadership, manager enablement can transform teams from disengaged to motivated.
When it comes to performance management, three big focus areas are:

  • Goal Alignment: This is about making sure everyone’s goals connect to the bigger company goals. For example, the sales team sets quarterly targets that ladder up to the overall revenue target. This way everyone is rowing in the same direction. Performance management aligns employee and company goals.
  • Progress Monitoring: Performance management involves regularly checking in on progress toward goals through tools like status reports and milestone tracking. A project manager, for instance, might use a software tool to track progress toward project milestones to make sure things stay on track. The process facilitates monitoring employee progress.
  • Feedback: Structured feedback moments, like during one-on-one meetings or annual reviews, are built into the process. This regular feedback promotes continuous improvement and growth by providing insights into performance. Formal feedback mechanisms aim to drive continuous improvement.
With manager enablement, companies take a different approach:

  • Resource Provisioning: Managers get access to tools, learning resources, training, and anything else they need to be successful. For example, providing data analysis software and leadership training to help managers gain insights and lead effectively. Enablement provides managers with resources and tools.
  • Collaborative Growth: It’s about managers and teams working together in a growth-oriented, not top-down, way. Brainstorming as a team on projects and co-creating development plans fosters joint ownership and engagement. The focus is on collaborative development.
  • Future-oriented Development: Enablement focuses on developing skills for the future, not just current roles. A manager might nurture future leaders through a formal mentorship program. Development focuses on building skills for future roles.
In summary, performance management relies on processes to align, monitor, and provide feedback. Enablement gives managers resources for growth plus focuses on collaboration and future skills.

The Differences Between Performance Management and Manager Enablement

Performance management and manager enablement have some defining contrasts. Let's explore a few of the major differences:
1. Time Frame Focus

  • Performance management relies heavily on historical evaluations through methods like annual performance reviews. These reviews dissect an employee’s achievements, shortcomings, and overall effectiveness over the past year. The focus is retrospective, sometimes failing to account for future potential.
  • Manager enablement uses a future-centric approach centered on nurturing growth and development. Managers have ongoing collaborations with employees to create career progression plans, develop skills, and discuss future opportunities. The emphasis is on the future versus the past.

2. Collaborative Approach

  • Performance management tends to operate in a top-down, hierarchical manner. Upper management defines strategies and goals that trickle down. Employees are expected to comply with little input. This nurtures a culture of merely meeting expectations.
  • Manager enablement favors collaborative dynamics between managers and teams. Rather than leadership issuing employees directives, managers enable participation and idea-sharing. Agile methodologies that use collaborative goal-setting and decision-making are encouraged.

3. Developmental Objectives

  • The primary objective of traditional performance management is evaluation. Employees are assessed based on how well they met benchmarks and metrics. This can restrict skill development to meet preset definitions of success.
  • Enablement focuses on nurturing well-rounded skills and competencies. Managers devote time to preparing employees for future challenges and leadership roles through training programs and stretch assignments. The focus is developmental.


The Benefits of Manager Enablement

Embarking on manager enablement can spark positive changes in an organization - from the work environment to productivity. Let's explore some of the multi-faceted benefits in more detail:
  • Positive Work Environment: Enablement establishes a positive and supportive work culture where employees feel valued through collaboration and recognition of their unique contributions. For example, a manager taking the time to acknowledge and praise the diverse strengths of each individual team member can greatly boost morale and motivation.
  • Individual Growth and Satisfaction: Employees experience increased personal growth and job satisfaction that goes beyond their formal job duties and responsibilities. As an illustration, a manager enabling an employee to take a course or training program that aligns with and advances their career aspirations shows investment in their development. This can significantly improve employee happiness and loyalty.

Improved Performance:

  • Skill Enhancement: Manager enablement involves facilitating continual enhancement of employees' skills through training and development opportunities. This directly paves the way for improved performance and amplified contributions towards achieving organizational goals. For instance, a manager setting up regular tailored training sessions to help hone specialized skills within the team leads to increased productivity and performance.
  • Achievement of Organizational Goals: With collaborative efforts and enhanced individual skills, teams become empowered to efficiently accomplish goals and drive organizational success. When development is aligned with goals, employees contribute at a higher level. Picture a team working cohesively to achieve their ambitious project goals well ahead of schedule, adding value for the company.

Reduced Turnover:

  • Employee Retention: Managers who are enabled with resources can better understand and address employee needs, creating a supportive environment that significantly reduces turnover rates. A case in point would be a manager implementing flexible work hours or locations to accommodate an employee's outside responsibilities. This adaptable approach encourages loyalty and reduces the likelihood of talent loss.
  • Cost Reduction: Reduced turnover translates to substantial cost savings by decreasing recruitment, hiring, onboarding and training expenses. Retaining experienced employees over the long term saves the company considerable resources compared to repeatedly bringing on new hires

Increased Innovation:

  • Fostering Creativity: Manager enablement cultivates a fertile environment for creative solutions and ideas to emerge, fostering innovation, adaptability and big picture thinking. Imagine a brainstorming session where a manager actively encourages open dialogue and wild ideas. This leads to the conception of groundbreaking solutions and products.
  • Adaptive Solutions: This approach pushes teams to evolve, adapt and think outside the box, cultivating solutions aligned with changing market landscapes and consumer demands. A forward-thinking manager could encourage exploring new technological advancements to improve product offerings and experiences, driving competitive advantage.


The Promise of Manager Enablement: High Performance Culture

Manager enablement is an approach to performance management that focuses on empowering managers to be success enablers for their employees. This means shifting the focus from just evaluating performance to creating an environment that encourages growth and development, collaboration, and innovation.
One of the key benefits of manager enablement is that it can help to create a high-performance culture. When managers are empowered to focus on developing their employees, they are more likely to create a workplace where everyone feels nurtured and motivated to give their best. This can lead to increased engagement, productivity, innovation, and employee retention.
Another benefit of manager enablement is that it can help to improve decision-making. When managers have a deep understanding of their employees' strengths and weaknesses, they are better equipped to make informed decisions about how to allocate resources and assignments. This can lead to better outcomes for the organization as a whole.
Finally, manager enablement can help to create a more positive and productive work environment. When employees feel supported and valued by their managers, they are more likely to be engaged in their work and to feel like they are part of a team. This can lead to a more enjoyable and productive work experience for everyone.
In the next post in this series, we will discuss how to take these theories and implement manager enablement at your organization.