Performance Management is critical to business success and is not a paper exercise.
The term Performance Management first emerged in the 1960’s and is evolving continuously as organisations, teams and individuals work hard to make it work. Some succeed and many do not. This piece today is not about formalised performance reviews but more on the day to day management of performance by managers in organisations. Performance Management at the coalface not the intellectualised version over a coffee.
A few years ago, we at OMT Global implemented a programme in Italy where we trained all line managers in a retail organisation to become ‘frontline performance trainers/coaches’. As part of this process we trained them to analyse and evaluate the performance of their teams against clear performance criteria every month. They were given monthly modules which they could deliver on the shop floor that were directly linked to the agreed performance criteria. They were also given the skills to provide ongoing, clear and constructive feedback and coach as needed. What has always stayed with me was a comment from one frontline manager with twenty five years’ experience. He said, six months into this programme ‘For the first time in my life I feel like a professional’. I asked him to explain further and he replied “People always assumed that if you are a manager you have the skills to have difficult conversations with your team”. “Now, I know why I need to and how I can have these conversations”.
Working in the Gulf I can clearly see that many managers rely solely on instinct to manage the day to day performance of their teams. Some are competent but many struggle. In terms of what is a competency, let’s use a simple definition of competency as being a combination of Knowledge, Skills and Attitude. When combined and balanced correctly as managers we have the ability to manage performance.
Much of the training in this space in the Gulf is ineffective as it focuses simply on knowledge acquisition in the area of Performance Management. Furthermore, it is often confused with Performance Appraisals or Performance Reviews which in many companies have become tick box exercises. Deloitte in their ‘Global Human Capital Trends 2015’ stated that “The Secret is out. Many organisations used to think of performance management as a backward looking assessment owned by HR. Performance Management is being reinvented for a new, forward-looking purpose: to serve as an efficient, focused business process that improves employee engagement and drives results”. Thankfully this secret is out.
The current approach is not only a waste of time but can negatively impact on employee engagement and retention.
What is needed? Quite simply it is skills based performance management rather than systems based. Skills based means building a performance skills culture where people actively manage performance in the moment. Feedback, coaching and the ability to conduct performance gap analysis against agreed performance criteria on a day to day basis is the key to a shift in performance management culture. Providing tools, support and ongoing continuous development managers can become effective performance managers. We have seen this impact across the globe over the last five years as we have developed thousands of managers who now proudly proclaim to be ‘professional’ in their role.
The benefits are enormous, greater retention of talent, developing engaged and confident future leaders not to mention driving performance and achieving organisational objectives.
Reinventing Performance Management is the second blog of our series – Employee Retention in the Gulf.