Protecting your human capital is a top priority in today's competitive market. Since employees are the most valuable (and expensive) assets of any given organization, investing in them is key to growing a business.

You may start by creating an employee-friendly culture where employees are treated with the same care as any other high-value asset on the balance sheet. This means empowering people to do their best work should be a high priority for managers.

In many cases, shaping a positive company culture where work has purpose and meaning, and where people feel like they have a voice happens through real, regular feedback.

When employees better understand their role as individual contributors, their career development progress, and how their goals fit with larger corporate objectives, it's a game-changer.

The strategy behind better employee performance

This approach to boosting human performance, as exemplified by performance review software companies like Reflektive, Glint, and Betterworks, combines hard data and a people-centric philosophy designed to drive engagement and empower people to do their best work. In my conversations with many of their leaders and CEOs, the strategy typically involves five pillars:

1. An "employees-first" mindset.

Employees always benefit from a system that supports their job performance, recognizes achievements and contributions, and advances their development. Managers in the trenches also benefit by getting real-time insights about how to best support staff to keep teams aligned on goals and deliver results. 

2. Abundant feedback.

Real-time feedback helps employees grow and should be delivered frequently and in the moment to encourage continuous improvement and employee engagement. It also helps to documents a "source of truth" for an employee's performance that helps mitigate biases that tend to creep up in more formal performance reviews. Finally, feedback is critical for employees to do their best work.

3. Leveraging conversations.

Regular one-on-one employee/manager conversations are important, and the results of these conversations should be recorded without being process-heavy, in such a way that employees have a real sense of their ongoing career development progress and their contribution to the achievement of objectives.

4. Using goals as levers to drive performance.

Accountability around goal completion won't scare your engaged, high-performing employees; it gives "A" players something to shoot for and helps them feel connected to the larger company mission.

5. Executive buy-in.

Tone is set from the top, and a feedback culture must be understood and reinforced from the highest levels of a company.

"Facilitating continuous dialogue between employees, managers and employers enable companies to achieve high performance -- while providing a great employee experience at the same time," observes  Reflektive CEO Greg Brown.

"This approach gives employees what they want and need, including new experiences and professional growth opportunities that keep them engaged, enthusiastic and productive. When done correctly, these same things also serve corporate objectives. It creates a classic win-win scenario," notes Brown.

Ultimately, driving employee-employer conversations can build an effective culture that encourages both high performance and accountability. As your most valuable asset, it makes sense to leverage an ongoing conversation that empowers employees to do their best work -- because after all, it's people that make the business go.