I love Popeye. When it comes to performance management are your organization’s leaders programmed like Popeye’s Alice the Goon to only complete the tasks associated with performance management? Do your leaders view performance management as something that has to get done to for HR compliance rather than something that can inspire employee performance, advance their department, and help the organization soar? If this is the situation than what is the point in spending time on performance management related tasks?
Performance management is most effective when leaders are committed to the outcomes over the process.
Process = fill out forms; meet with each direct report, give completed forms to HR.
Outcomes = company, department, and individual goals consistently achieved and frequently surpassed.
Here are three questions to help clarify when leaders consider performance management to be a process or an outcome based responsibility.
- Does it vary? Consistency is a magic word in HR but when it comes to performance management it limits how organization goals are achieved. Employee reviews that are similar from one person to the next and from one year to the next indicate people are conforming instead of challenging the status quo. For organizations to grow they must change. Consider the words attributed to William Burroughs and Bob Dylan “When you stop growing you start dying.” And then the words of John F Kennedy “Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth."
- Is it talked about? Discussions about employee evaluations and other approaches to performance management are often limited and typically don’t occur until the circumstances are extreme. In outcome based performance management leaders explore situations long before they become problems.
- Is it retrospective and futuristic? If performance management consists of only employee reviews that give detailed accounts of the past evaluation period it is less likely that people will identify future action that will help them to grow as an individual and to contribute to the growth of their department and the organization.
The lists of responsibilities for organization leaders seem to be never ending. The more quickly leaders move tasks off their desk the better. Performance management is not such a task. Performance management is a core leadership responsibility and when done well many other leadership responsibilities will be more effective and efficient. Here are a few ways to advance how leaders approach to performance management.
- Set an expectation that every leader is responsible for one performance management outcome and hold them accountable to the expectation. For example, At least 25 percent of all direct reports are using a development plan to help them advance in the company or become a subject matter expert in their role.
- Set annual or semi-annual department goals. Then ask leaders to share how their direct reports will help the department to achieve its goals.
- Hold leader forums to discuss the performance of direct reports. Active discussions on how people perform and how to communicate performance will strengthen the process. Be conscientious when sensitive information is shared and create a safe space that allows the conversations to produce value.
When outcomes based performance management is a central part of how your leaders lead, people will be aware that they can soar in your organization. In return they will be more invested in the success of your organization and help it to soar.