THE PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT CYCLE
Performance management (PM) is useless when it is merely an annual check-up. No one loves their evaluation forms and most people find evaluations unpleasant and destructive. So what gives? Done right, performance management is one of the most powerful tools for driving continuous performance and skill improvement.
Solid PM should clarify goals, support success, help sustain high performance and reward achievement. PM is the bedrock of most supervisory and management type duties. It is the most direct and powerful method of driving, reinforcing and sustaining employee attitudes, behaviour, performance and learning.
Whenever performance or behavioural expectations are genuinely important to your team or organization, build them into your PM cycle.
Here is an overview of how PM works and its essential elements, if you want to use it to drive progress and improvement.
Performance Management Defined:
Here is a simple working definition of performance management that managers at all levels can understand and rally behind:
“Performance management is all about helping people set and achieve meaningful goals.”
Four crucial points:
- For PM to work, it must be an ongoing process, not an annual check-up.
- All four elements are necessary for PM to be functional and add value.
- PM is important for both employers and employees.
- If employees do not know how they are performing, if they are not getting any feedback, they can become insecure, defensive and complacent and they certainly won’t know what’s expected of them, and when and how they need to improve their skills and performance.
The Four Essential Elements of the PM Cycle:
Here is a short description of each of the four elements.
Performance planning: Setting clear and meaningful roles, goals and metrics so that everyone knows where the goal line is and what is expected of them. It is crucial to set goals around (i) performance, (ii) adherence to core values (the “how”), and (iii) learning (skill development). Bottom line: every employee needs to know what is expected of them; and it is crucial for leaders to help employees set goals that are sufficiently challenging and important to the success of the organization (aligned with vision and strategy).
Performance feedback and coaching: Helping people understand how they are doing (jointly monitoring progress to plan) and how they can improve their performance to achieve their objectives. Performance coaching can be used to drive improvements in performance, skills and values. Accountability without support is unfair and ineffective. Bottom line: if you want your employees to achieve really important things, you need to offer them the feedback and coaching they need to succeed.
Performance appraisal: Evaluations or appraisals help generate accountability with respect to goal achievement, i.e., progress to plan on the goals set in the Performance Planning phase, including goals around performance, skill development and adherence to core values. Appraisals, when done well, can help document achievement over the course of the performance period. Appraisals, however, should never include negative surprises. A cardinal rule of performance management is to deal with performance problems when they arise and not save them up for the appraisal meeting. Bottom line: If managers do a good job of coaching, formal performance evaluations will be little more than a summary of the good work you have been doing with your employees all year long: no surprises, no conflicts and greater collaboration.
Performance sustainability: Sustaining improvements in performance through persistence and solid supervisory, management and leadership practices, e.g., selection, coaching, performance management, reward & recognition, leading by example and so on. Sustainability practices help you drive further improvements, i.e., raise the bar again. They also help smooth transitions during shifting job priorities due to changes in the world and in corporate strategy. Bottom line: If you want to help your employees do great things and perform well all year long, you need to sustain your efforts all year long. (Advanture has a proprietary model for this kind of sustainability, which we will share on another occasion.)
Give Advanture a call. We can help you take your organization’s leadership practices up to the next level for enhanced business performance. Performance by design!
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