To help answer the question: Who owns performance management, think about who has the most to gain when performance management is done right. Is it the employees or the manager? When you think about it you realize that they both have something to gain. Employees gain job security and opportunities for advancement. Managers gain operational effectiveness and strategic focus which can also lead to advancement opportunities. Therefore, both manager and employee will benefit from and therefore should own quality performance management.
Effective performance management involves a complex set of actions and behaviors utilized throughout the year summarized in the following equation.
Expectations + Accountability = Effective Performance Management
Here is how each aspect of the equation demands ownership from both the manager and the employees.
- Managers set and communicate expectations.
- Employees understand what is expected of them and agree that it is achievable or request changes.
- Employees inform managers of their progress, ask for advice or guidance, and communicate their achievements.
- Managers provide advice and guidance, listen to and respond to employee input on their achievements, and recognize employee success.
Here are a few tips for setting and communicating worthwhile expectations and putting into place a system that drives accountability.
- Identify department level goals that answer the question: How is the department contributing to the success of the organization? Then collaborate with your direct reports to set individual SMART goals that clearly support the department goals.
- Set goals that walk the line between challenging and achievable. People soar when they create value so give them every opportunity to do so and then recognize them for their successes.
- Expect employees to report progress. This can be a formal or informal report on a set schedule or milestone achievement. The key is to hold them to it.
- For subjective performance expectations (items that are difficult to put into a SMART goal format such as competencies) expect employees to share examples that reinforce their skill, knowledge, and attitudes.
- Encourage employees to ask for help. This habit is built when managers seek to understand why a goal was not reached before assigning blame or expressing dissatisfaction. Then provide guidance and advice to help the employee be successful.
Although the equation, Expectations + Accountability = Effective Performance Management makes performance management appear straightforward it can be complicated. It is helpful for managers to periodically ask themselves: Was an expectation set, communicated and understood? Did my direct report agree that the expectation was achievable? Did the expectation create value for the department? Did the direct report progress or come to me for help? If one or more of the answers is “no” then use the tips to go back and amend the situation.