The Website and Blog of HR Author and Speaker Lori Kleiman

Performance Management: Love It or Leave It!

Man in job interview

Rarely do we see a process tolerated in business that is time consuming, costly and all leaders agree to generally be a waste of time. But are convinced we have it…and we just keep doing it. This can be no other then the dreaded annual performance review.

And what do we hear as a new trend from big business….do them more often. Really – is that what the Fortune 500 organizations are really up? Yes and No. Harvard Business Review accumulates the recent studies looking at the current initiatives in the area of performance management as a way for us to see the changes occurring in the workplace. We do see organizations making the decision to eliminate the formal review for ongoing feedback from managers to their team, but they are still addressing subpar performance issues and communicating extensively in writing with information to employees regarding performance prior to separation. One change that all agree is necessary: Don’t want for your annual review to deal with poor performers – employees that don’t meet your expectations should never make it to their annual review!

What HR is trying to do is re-frame the conversation. The goal of the review should be to focus on employee interests, needs of the organization and a future plan for employee development. A great article helps managers think of the performance conversation as one where a genuine interest is shown to the employee and the manager. This system works to develop a performance plan that meets the needs of all engaged parties.

As you go into 2016, consider your performance management system. Ensure that you are talking to employees about their performance around the key drivers of your organizational success. For instance, if a top sales person meets all the needs of their customers and drives profit to the bottom line, do you really care to rate them on attendance and punctuality? If your business is public-facing, do you rate employees on the number of community events they attend, or a non-profit board they might be involved in? Maybe it’s time to add that to the conversation.

Look at your current review document and the categories on which you evaluate employees. Will success in those areas across the organization create the goals you have set out in 2016? Or, are they simply the categories you have always used, and never really gave any thought to? I would encourage you to consider that an employee who scores low in attendance and punctuality should never make it to the review process – they should be coached into meeting your needs long before that conversation occurs. Rather, evaluate people on initiative, creativity, business acumen, teamwork, ambition, and the other competencies that will drive you business forward.

We have to evaluate employees as part of our business process. Ideally this is happening on a daily basis with public compliments for work done well, and private criticism for areas that need to be corrected. If this is done properly, then a one-on-one meeting quarterly or annually will be a positive meeting that is valuable to both the manager and the employee.

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