Many organizations struggle with performance management. In fact, research by Deloitte indicates “only 8% of the companies in their survey report that their performance management process drives high levels of value, while 58% say it is not an effective use of time.”
But let’s be serious, organizations need performance management (goal setting, coaching, development, reinforcement, feedback, appraisals, and an overall consistent process). Organizations need to find ways to:
- Compare and adjust actions and behaviors against a common desired state.
- Differentiate individual contributions to organization’s goals and objectives.
- Qualify and quantify selection and de-selection decisions.
- Differentiate performance when applying a merit pay system .
The problem is that many organizations spend most of their time debating and redesigning processes (length, frequency, roles, rating scales, descriptors, ‘what achieved/how achieved’ formulas, etc.) but little to no time on clarity of expectations, accountability, and basic values-based behaviors. Many organizations tolerate taking short-cuts, skipping steps, and allowing countless exceptions to the rules in performance management. All of these are cultural issues (accepted and/or perceived way we do things) and they create real business risk for the organization.
Here’s a real life example. Don is a dedicated, hardworking, results oriented employee. He consistently puts in extra time and effort. This year among other things, he completed a complex, project that reduced the company’s risk and saved millions of dollars. He documented his performance for his boss’ review. Following their conversation, Don was dejected, felt unappreciated, demotivated, and disengaged. What just happened? Here’s a simple recap:
- Supervisor was unprepared. He admitted he hadn’t taken the time to read through all of Don’s documentation.
- Supervisor quickly concluded that Don was “just doing his job – what was expected.”
The transaction (performance review meeting and documentation) may have been completed but where was the:
- Clarity of what ‘did not meet,’ ‘met’ and ‘exceeded’ expectations looked like for Don’s specific goals?
- Accountability to dialog throughout the year on how Don was doing?
- Values-based behaviors of integrity and respect to provide candid, timely feedback and coach where necessary?
- Quality checks to make sure process milestones were not skipped, short-cut, or eliminated?
The four questions above are all cultural issues. They are behaviors that have gone unchecked and/or tolerated. And, they send a very loud and dangerous message – improving performance, developing talent, measuring improvement, and recognizing & rewarding achievements is not important. Since when?
Please don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater by accepting mediocrity in performance management. It’s so much more than an annual appraisal. Don’t settle for wimpy excuses. Work to streamline and enhance processes, but don’t forget culture change and results are absolutely critical too.
If this grabs your attention, then stay tuned for a new Positive Direction in performance management.