Performance Reviews Still Suck
Having been working with clients over the last couple months, Performance Reviews are the hot topic as they’ve been in the midst of evaluations and development plans. The fact that this exercise sucks for everyone involved isn’t news. However, I am surprised by the information I’ve seen in a recent study on Performance Management. It starts out with:
Despite an understanding that talent is a source of competitive advantage — and the fact that performance management programs have been an established business practice for more than 50 years — organizations today still struggle to establish effective programs, according to Mercer’s latest Global Performance Management Survey. Performance management leaders from 1,056 organizations representing 53 countries indicate that their programs share a number of similar design components — and agree that these programs are not as effective as they could be.
Based on the numbers it looks like they might be a complete waste of time. And surely, this sentiment is not new, or sadly, shocking. We’ve become complacent with lousy performance management experiences. They’ve become the dreaded dental visit of management viewed as something we’ve gotta go do that gives us tons of anxiety and maybe some pain but it’ll be over in an hour (or 10 minutes in some cases) and we’ll have the news of how we’re doing with the requisite lecture on “you know, you really need to floss more.”
But really people, look at the numbers….. look how low the capability to effectively deal with performance in a one-on-one engagement is.
It’s staggeringly low. It’s no wonder engagement is poor. I’ll tell you what is is staggering, “most of the essential tools and techniques of modern management were invented by individuals born in the 19th century, not long after the end of the American Civil War.” *WHAT?!
The face of business is changing, operating in a far more volatile climate than ever before. But the face that hasn’t changed is the human face. It is still what makes or breaks a business. It’s still what sees opportunity, creates innovation, hears for whom the proverbial bell tolls, and yes, smells the coffee. So this begs the question, why are you not leveraging the ONE THING that remains consistent in the work environment? Your people….specifically your managers and natural leaders. For they are the ones who can turn the tide of all the human endeavor within your workplace.
Conversations ARE your relationships. Talking about performance, informally, everyday – and doing it well – can turn your business, department, unit, team results around almost immediately. It’s proven. So, while I would challenge you to face down the performance management system you have or don’t have. A much easier, faster, and implementable solutions is to focus on the individuals who need to learn how to communicate about performance. Give them the skills and the confidence to go forth and speak. To provide meaningful and useful feedback, to listen, to ask open questions that start a dialog based on solutions instead of criticisms. Because if you can ace this skill-set – it really doesn’t matter how crappy your Performance Management System is.
It’s a basic skill set your managers can master. You can significantly change your management team to achieve effective performance management capability in less than a business quarter. Give us a shout to talk further about how you can do this in your company.
*The Future of Management by Gary Hamel
What fuels long-term business success? Not operational excellence, technology breakthroughs, or new business models, but management innovation—new ways of mobilizing talent, allocating resources, and formulating strategies. Through history, management innovation has enabled companies to cross new performance thresholds and build enduring advantages.
Organizations Lack Confidence in Their Performance Management
Blog post on Mercer’s Global Performance Management Study