Mention the words ‘performance management’ in most organizations and you get two types of responses, both negative.
- Frontline employees often see performance management as management’s way of controlling people.
- Management often see it as time consuming activity that takes away from getting “real” work done.
Our Revulsion Towards Managing Performance
- I’ve asked many leaders (managers and supervisors) “Why don’t you do performance management?
- Most will talk about how busy things are, the resistance they get from employees, and the pressure from senior people to ‘produce, produce, produce’.
- Then, I’ll ask them, “What is the most important thing your organization has to do?”
- The most common response I receive to this question is, “to put out a product or service to meet customer needs.”
- The last question I ask is, “What is the most important element in producing your product or service?”
- With a little prodding, leaders usually say the “performance of frontline workers.”
So, performance is the key element to produce a product or service, but we don’t want to manage performance! Scary!
- The reasons leaders cite for not managing performance are real.
- Organizational life is more hectic than ever and the pressure to produce in our competitive environment is extreme.
- Frontline employees do resist performance management.
So Why Should We Manage Performance?
Because performance management is the key to:
- Linking organizational and work group goals with each individual’s goals.
- Obtaining employee commitment.
- Maximizing performance.
- Producing the best quality products and services possible!
The basic steps in performance management are really quite simple (again with the “simplicity” thing…):
- The goals of the work are established – performance expectations are set and communicated – we understand what has to be accomplished.
- The scope of the work is laid out – where the work starts and ends – who gives us work and who we give work to – our authority and responsibilities are clear and we understand the decisions we can make about work.
- The standards of performance are established – what an average person could accomplish with the tools and resources required to perform.
- The actions necessary to accomplish the work are outlined.
- Performance measures are developed to determine how work is progressing towards meeting performance goals.
- As performance continues, it is evaluated – measures are used to compare performance to expectations.
- Performance meeting goals, expectations and standards is rewarded; poor performance is corrected.
- I once had a supervisor tell me his job was to tell employees the good things about their work, and my job, as human resources manager, was to tell them the bad things.
- NOT! Performance management is a basic supervisory and managerial responsibility.
- I often ask leaders whether they see performance management as their responsibility.
- Many do not!
- If managing performance is not the primary job of a manager or supervisor, then the question needs to be asked, “Why do we have these positions?“
By developing members of the work group to be completely independent we could eliminate a lot of management and supervision. Some organizations have done this.
- Managers and supervisors can play a powerful and important role in developing quality products and services, if they get involved in the performance of their people.
- What do people require to properly perform their work?
- A clear purpose and direction.
- The skills and knowledge to perform.
- A positive attitude.
- Information about the work, where it comes from and where it goes (each step up to delivery to the ultimate customer).
- Information about the status of work in progress.
- The opportunity to make mistakes, correct them, and learn (learning is a relatively permanent change in behaviour).
- Feedback on their performance so they can self correct.
- Recognition for their work and other rewards.
- A person’s immediate manager or supervisor can play a crucial role in providing these things to people.