One of the hallmarks of the high performance organization is robust performance management. For many organizations performance management revolves around a process. Over the years I’ve seen all kinds of processes including sophisticated on-line real-time versions that are linked to strategic goals, talent management systems, merit pay and high potential development plans.
In fact I’ve designed, developed and implemented several performance management processes and have facilitated hundreds of training workshops on how they work. And despite this I’ve yet to see the perfect process. That’s because performance management is a daily effort and all about the quality of the conversations a manager has with his or her people. It is not about filling in endless forms with reams of information.
The job of the people manager boils down to ensuring that employees know the answers to the following 3 simple questions:
1. Do I know what’s expected of me?
It’s amazing how few people know exactly what it is they are expected to deliver and how they contribute to what the organization is about. Most managers and employees agree annual performance goals that by the end of the 1st quarter are out of date and redundant. Managers need to clarify and agree expectations on a regular basis having regard for constantly changing business priorities.
2. What are the skills, knowledge and behaviors that I need to deliver on these expectations?
You get a greater bang for your buck by leveraging the strengths of your employees rather than trying to fix all their weaknesses. Employees need to be equipped for current and future potential roles through regular coaching and experiential learning rather than sending them on a training program.
3. Do I know how I’m getting on?
We all need timely regular feedback on our performance and not just on the things we do wrong. Simply asking employees how they’re getting on and recognizing when they do a good job will do more for engagement than most reward systems. Address performance issues using calm, evidence based observations and 2-way solution driven discussions rather than pointing the finger and getting things off your chest.
You don’t need a sophisticated process for performance management but you do need to make time to talk and have quality conversations.