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Cleveland, Ohio


Echo System Partners works with organizations to co-create workplaces that inspire high levels of employee engagement tapping into individual greatness for organizational good.

Organizations that work with Echo discover exactly how their people are the secret to their success and they build action plans to secure this competitive advantage.

Echo’s approach is collaborative. With thorough understanding of an organization's goals and success drivers, we tailor customized engagements that will yield measurable results.  We blend a wealth of experiences, research, and knowledge to create actions that will bring your strategic vision to life.

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A blog that provides snapshots of key ideas that inspire organization growth. 

One idea: Focus on a basic concept. (Explore complex concepts in white papers.)

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Filtering by Category: Performance Management

6 Ways to Update your Performance Management System

Regina Loiko

Marcus Buckingham the author of many best sellers that focus on using your strengths recently posted, What if Performance Management focused on Strengths? Here he provides excellent insights on how to update your approach to performance management and make it more relevant in today’s organizations. He offers six characteristics of a new system. We suggest that you try at least one of his ideas and are grateful that you don’t have to await an overhaul of you current system to benefit from what he shares. The six characteristics are summarized below.

1.       Real time: give feedback in the moment with frequent (weekly, monthly) check-ins.

2.       Light touch: keep it simple and require little documentation.  Consider just two questions, what are you doing this week and how can I help. Keep the focus on the employee, their skills, accomplishments, interest, and goals. Be more of a coach than a judge.

3.       About the employee and for the employee: the employee drives the process meaning they schedule the meetings, decide what you will talk about, document the results, follow-up as needed and reap the benefits. In the beginning managers may have to coach employees to own this process.  

4.       Strengths based: significant growth results from focusing using your strengths to be effective. Still address weaknesses but understand that they present the least opportunity for growth.

5.       Future focused: Talk about what is expected rather than what has been done. Explore the actions they can take, the skills they can acquire, and the contacts they can make.

6.       Local system: use the system to capture local intelligence. Note: we agree that performance management should be local but do not agree that goals should only aggregate up, rather we advise that they move up and down through the organization. Employees are to have a purpose tied to sustaining the organization and they want to create value.

Enjoy the full article especially our favorite quote: “Performance feedback when anonymous is just gossip.”

Performance Managers – Leaders or Goons

Regina Loiko

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.

  1. 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."
  2. 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.
  3. 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. 

Who Owns Performance Management?

Regina Loiko

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.