Why all the surprise when targets aren’t hit and people seem confused? If you look at most organizations, processes and procedures are not in place to help leaders set goals, manage performance, and conduct reviews in a way that brings out the best in people. To be effective, a performance management system has to provide people with direction, support, and encouragement. See how your organization is doing in these three key areas:
1. Performance Planning
All good performance starts with clear goals. Clarifying goals involves making sure that people understand two things: first, what they are being asked to do—their areas of accountability—and second, what good performance looks like—the performance standards by which they will be evaluated. Most organizations do a good job on performance planning and set very clear goals. However, after goal setting, what do you think happens to those goals? Most often they get filed, and no one looks at them until they are told it’s time for performance reviews. Then everybody runs around, bumping into each other, trying to find the goals.
2. Performance Coaching
Leaders often assume that their work direction conversations are so clear that there is no need for follow-up or that they are so busy that they can’t take the time. Many managers do that very same thing. They hire people, tell them what to do, and then leave them alone and assume good performance will follow. In other words, they abdicate; they don’t delegate. This sets up the old leave alone/zap management style. To counteract this, schedule and hold progress-check meetings. You will be able to catch problems before they become major and significantly increase the probability that your direct report’s performance on the goal will meet your expectations. Progress-check conversations enhance the quality of your relationships, build trust and commitment, open lines of communication, and diminish the amount of time spent fighting brush fires.
3. Performance Review
This is where a person’s performance over the course of a year is summed up. If steps one and two have been done properly, the year-end performance review will just be a review of what has already been discussed. There will be no surprises. Instead, managers and direct reports will be reviewing and celebrating the tasks they have already been working on. When progress-check meetings are scheduled according to development level, open, honest discussions about the direct report’s performance take place on an ongoing basis, creating mutual understanding and agreement.
How is your organization doing in these three key areas?
Clear goals, solid day-to-day coaching, and “no surprise” performance reviews are hallmarks of a great performance management system. Think about your own organization, and your own conversations with managers and direct reports you work with. Are there areas where you could improve?
PS: If you would like to learn how one organization has put these practices into use, be sure to check out today’s webinar of 3 Keys to Effective Performance Management. WD-40 CEO Garry Ridge will be sharing how he has created a high involvement, high performance work culture that has increased performance and engagement levels. The session is free and is being broadcast today at 9:00 a.m. Pacific (5:00 p.m. GMT).