Reaching the top… Making performance management work hard

We’ve spent a lot of time lately helping our clients to get something of real value from their performance management efforts.  All too often we hear managers and staff complain that the process is adding little value while creating stress and challenge for everyone involved.

In our experience it doesn’t matter how well designed your performance management systems, processes, forms and policies are, unless they are effectively applied they add little to no value.  In fact poor performance management practices can damage morale and waste valuable time and resources.

Managers need to understand that people are more likely to perform when they have answers to a few key questions:

  1. What do you want me to do?
  2. How well do you want me to do it?
  3. How well am I doing?
  4. How can I improve my contribution?

For performance management to have any real impact on achieving your vision, every member of the team has a role to play.  Shared accountability is crucial where success rests with managers and staff alike.  While this is certainly true, there is no doubt that unless driven from the top, performance management is unlikely to be effective.  Here’s our checklist of the non-negotiable roles and responsibilities that drive success of performance management in any business.

Business owners, CEOs and Executive managers must:

  • Make it matter; follow through and hold people accountable
  • Demonstrate commitment and lead by example
  • Communicate vision, goals, priorities and strategies that can be cascaded down through the organisation
  • Invest in the development of leaders and their ability to manage performance well

Every manager must:

  • Demonstrate belief in the role performance management plays in driving overall success
  • Communicate clear performance standards and expectations; linking to the big picture
  • Manage performance fairly, consistently and accurately
  • Be courageous; take action, have the difficult conversations and apply consequences
  • Provide regular feedback and guidance
  • Tell people how they are doing and what they can do to improve; tell people right away if they need to do something differently
  • Recognise and reward a job well done, informally and formally
  • Encourage and inspire people to strive for success
  • Proactively develop the capabilities of individuals and the team
  • Be sensitive and empathetic to the challenges people face
  • Appropriately maintain confidentiality

Every member of the team must:

  • Contribute to identify goals and objectives for their role and team
  • Participate in evaluating their own contribution; self-appraisals are crucial
  • Take ownership for their own development; identify personal and professional growth opportunities
  • Ask for feedback and help from their manager and team mates
  • Focus on the success of the team as a whole; support colleagues to achieve their own objectives
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3 thoughts on “Reaching the top… Making performance management work hard

  1. Nice post Karen. Where I’ve seen performance management done really well, the one thing that stands out is that senior leaders do it themselves very well. Things like the quality of goals that are set and the feedback given.

  2. Pingback: Performance Management Fundamentals | Karen Gately

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