Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Performance Management: Change the Name or Change the Mindset

There is a need to evaluate the performance of employees in more objective and continuous way.

People are always the most invaluable asset in the business, however, in most of the organizations, HR is still playing as an administrative role, instead of a strategic player, handle talent management, performance management, and culture management in silos, lack of strategic vision and integral process to manage them holistically. Rightfully in most organizations, the term "performance management" has a negative connotation as it tends to label processes that the business sees as,  at a minimum, administratively burdensome and at worst simply dreads. Many complained that the issue with the term ‘Performance Management’ is that it sounds too technical to use on humans. And it is actually intended to be technical. What are the real problems in today’s Performance Management, and shall you change the name or change the methodology?


Talent Development needs to covers two sides. It allows the employee to feel they are important and the organization is committed to their development. It also can drive supervisors thoughts on the process. It is not a management check in the box. It is required developmental conversations and strategic plans that are conducted with valued team members. The whole concept is obviously more involved than just a name change. Talent Management includes such things as optimizing the talents of employees at all levels, building a culture that supports the objectives that the employees are to achieve, providing positive reinforcement and corrective feedback and linking behaviors to appropriate consequences, and aligning the organization for success; it is not just about a performance appraisal or focusing solely on an individual. It is about optimizing an organization's most important assets, its employees and that requires many different initiatives and actions.


There is a need to evaluate the performance of employees in more objective and continuous way. There is a danger of not having a process to "develop and nurture" performance, bias and favoritism are common in the workplace. Waiting until once per year or even every six months to evaluate workers is also not enough to know key performance nor should it be. There is more to an employee's performance than metrics on an assessment form or survey. We are talking about human beings who have feelings, and are affected by different scenarios that could impact their daily performance. Some things could be within their control and then, there may be times when their performance is based on the outcome of others providing them needed resources for them to complete their job effectively. So the performance evaluation method can be somewhat bias and subjective; especially if the manager has not been providing effective feedback on a continual basis with employee each week. Managers tend to manage their employees based on what they want or expect, instead of tapping on what skills an employee already has which they can develop to do the job. So it’s not about managing performance, but developing or enhancing one’s capabilities.


Change assessment has to ensure the change stays on track: HR isn't going to "change" anyone or anything when the stakeholders don't want it. It's a paradigm/culture shift and, thus, it has to be co-created by the whole ecosystem. Passionate employees, front line leaders, top-level leaders who truly want a better way of being and achieving at work need to be equally accountable, with HR holding up the mirror of accountability and, ultimately, change assessment to ensure the change stays on track (or adjusts, as learning occurs). Peers can also help keep up performance by exchanging views of how to do things well, debriefing after situations in which they think things could have gone better and work out ways to improve. Having an open mind, accepting failure as a means to learn and improve, all these are some ways to make sure performance is up to standards. It’s critical to have open communication and willingness to improve. Managers who communicate regularly with their employees are more likely to know how each one is performing, as long as they take the trouble to interact with them and see how they are doing, as well as offering help where needed. When employees' mistakes (reasonable ones) are taken as opportunities to learn, at the individual or group level, enduring trusting relationships are created so that open communication channels are more likely to remain open.


HR plays strategic partnership role in setting effective processes and building high-performing culture: The HR professional in this era plays an influential role in supporting leadership to create an 'engaged' workplace culture that is aligned with their leadership values. An inspiring and motivating culture resolves for the most part, 'performance' concerns and shifts the mentality from 'managing' performance to building performance partnerships. Of course there will always be a minority of employees who are under -performers and the need for a process deal with these. There's the process of continually aligning abilities, talents, aspirations, etc., to important work that an organization needs to be done and of providing feedback to employees on how well the organization feels they are delivering on their commitments. This needs to be a multi-directional dialogue around accountability, feedback and continual adjustment of expectations and future commitments. Ideally, it involves more than just the employee and the manager, with the employee ideally being the primary driver and the manager mentoring if the employee doesn't care enough or know how to drive it. Talent Management includes such things as optimizing the talents of employees at all levels, building a culture that supports the objectives the employees are to achieve, providing positive reinforcement and corrective feedback and linking behaviors to appropriate consequences, and aligning the organization for success-- it is not just about a performance appraisal or focusing solely on an individual. It is about optimizing an organization's most important resources, its employees and that requires many different initiatives and actions.


HR has to have a selling mindset. While changing language changes perspectives, simply changing the words isn't a solution in its own right. You need a paradigm shift -- from a view of the employee needing to be pushed to an "acceptable" level of performance to a scenario where the organization and the individual collaborate transparently in a dynamically changing environment to determine where the individual (including everything that makes them who they are) will be able to achieve their potential in terms of both organizational and personal strategies and aspirations. This process includes ongoing bi-directional dialogue and adjustment, recognizing that the organization is both the buyer and the seller in the equation -- buyer in that the organization is purchasing an individual's time, and seller in that they are "selling" experiences, opportunities and financial compensation.


Performance Management is an important process which underpins organization’s collective human capability to achieve high performance. Whatever you call the process, the manager, and employee should share accountability for frequent dialogues around alignment, fulfillment, development, feedback, mutual value add. Engage in adult dialogue that makes the organization, team and role purpose clear and meaningful. Co-creates and coach around the plan of execution. Support, remove roadblock and above all - stay out of the way. Encourage the heart. Do managers add value to the employee's professional or personal goals, and objectives as well as the other way around? Such that both employer and employee are following through on stated commitments to each other.


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