Sunday, May 29, 2016

3 Steps for Better Performance Management

3 cartoon hands point to 3 steps on an upward growth graph

The field of performance management has had a fascinating evolution.

It began in 1950 with the Federal government requiring an annual review of all employees for a 3-level rating (outstanding, satisfactory, or unsatisfactory). Next came the “management by objective” philosophy in the 1960s, followed by Jack Welch’s concept of “stack ranking” at GE in the ‘80s. 360 degree reviews were introduced in the ‘90s and still reign today. But there are other methods as well: peer reviews are currently used at Google to supplement manager reviews and so-called ongoing reviews have gained favor elsewhere.

In general, though, employee performance reviews are not only disliked by both employees and employers, they are not having the desired impact of improving performance. According to our high performance research, the vast majority of leaders do not believe their process for performance management drives business value or higher performance. 

 Here is what we do know from our twenty-plus years of performance management training…if you want your performance management process to create higher performance, you need to make sure you follow these three critical factors for success:

  1. Don’t adhere to an artificial schedule for reviewing performance…do it on the spot. Employees benefit far more from feedback that is given when and where the behavior occurs. It is far more valuable to learn right away how you did something “right” or how you could do it better. Give your employees a chance to make small course corrections in the moment. Give feedback regularly to open up lines of communication around continuous learning. The emphasis should always be on betterment and offered in an encouraging way. Accentuate the positive; feedback should be more about the do’s than the don’ts.
  2. Look forward more than backward.One of the major problems with annual reviews is that when the feedback comes, it is too late to do anything about it. No wonder employees hate the process so much! I think it’s safe to assume that most people want to get better at what they do. Ongoing feedback will help. But a piece of that desire to improve should be a look at what the future holds. Ask your employees about their future goals and where they would like to be in the next three years. Help them identify and take advantage of growth opportunities. Be their career counselor and engage them in the process.
  3. Find out what they really think.Employees won’t be truly committed to a performance management program unless they are truly engaged in their work. Ask them what you as their manager and the company as a whole can do to support their success. What is standing in the way of their performing to their maximum potential?

Take these three steps and your performance management program will be far more effective and far more satisfying to employees and employers alike.

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