Transition Management Consulting, Inc.

Conclusion: Performance Management (5 of 5)

by Jackie Eder-Van Hook, PhD

Performance Management Systems – A Conclusion

Traditional performance management systems are at odds with our instantly updated and connected world. Millennials (those born between ~1980-1995) are routinely described as wanting frequent and even instant feedback. Some companies have begun making quarterly bonus payments instead of waiting until the end of the year. The question that organizations need to discuss is: how can we give meaningful and supportive feedback about an individual’s performance that is timely, relevant, and actionable?

Strong change management and culture change is absolutely necessary to move an organization from a deeply ingrained performance management system to something new. While employees and managers dislike their current performance management systems, there is an enduring perception that it is often better to deal with the thing you are most familiar with and know, even if it is not ideal, than to take a risk with something unknown.

Regardless of the performance management system, employee and manager training is absolutely necessary for improving performance. Coaching, development, and giving and receiving feedback is a learned and necessary skill for all employees, regardless of their position in the organization. One particularly useful resource is the work by Charlie and Edie Seashore on giving and receiving feedback.

Performance management systems were created to measure individual output in our industrial past. How many shirts did you sew? How many widgets did you produce? Today, the work is increasingly done in teams, matrixed environments, and is knowledge-based. It is very difficult to accurately and appropriately measure this type of performance using our existing systems. With the advent of new laws, regulations, and employee protections in the 20th century,  lawyers advised organizations to better manage their risk.

Our performance management systems grew into systems that were almost expected to produce mediocre performance. At times, the systems have been punitive in nature, perpetuating a carrot and stick approach. The focus should be placed on the majority of the employees who are doing good to excellent work. Performance improvement plans should be implemented and performance documented when a specific problem is identified. The organization can then either help that employee improve or move out. It is more efficient and more humane to all considered.

A 21st century approach -- one that is more positive and generative -- is needed. One that marries ideas from positive psychology similar to the strengths-based approach and a coaching and development approach in which employees and managers are trained to both give and receive feedback, as appropriate, combined the focus is largely centered on creating a new, bold, and productive future.

Links to the other parts of this series.

 

Cutting Edge Approaches in Performance Management (1 of 5)

Current State of Performance Management in Associations (2 of 5)

Changes in Performance Management (3 of 5)

Decoupling Compensation from Performance Ratings (4 of 5)

Performance Management Systems – A Conclusion (5 of 5)

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