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!


Reality and Excuses!

  • 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 Steps in Performance Management

The basic steps in performance management are really quite simple (again with the “simplicity” thing…):

  1. The goals of the work are established – performance expectations are set and communicated – we understand what has to be accomplished.
  2. 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.
  3. The standards of performance are established – what an average person could accomplish with the tools and resources required to perform.
  4. The actions necessary to accomplish the work are outlined.
  5. Performance measures are developed to determine how work is progressing towards meeting performance goals.
  6. As performance continues, it is evaluated – measures are used to compare performance to expectations.
  7. Performance meeting goals, expectations and standards is rewarded; poor performance is corrected.


Do We Really Need Managers and Supervisors?

  • 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?
If we don’t want managers and supervisors to manage performance we could really streamline the organization.


Why pay a person to simply issue work directives and unilaterally make work decisions?

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.

Yes, We Need Managers and Supervisors …. But Let’s Clarify The Priorities for their Work!

  • 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?
  1. A clear purpose and direction.
  2. The skills and knowledge to perform.
  3. A positive attitude.
  4. Information about the work, where it comes from and where it goes (each step up to delivery to the ultimate customer).
  5. Information about the status of work in progress.
  6. The opportunity to make mistakes, correct them, and learn (learning is a relatively permanent change in behaviour).
  7. Feedback on their performance so they can self correct.
  8. 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.
That is why first line managers and supervisors are the key link between an organization and its people.