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Turning people on to high performance (PART 1)

Posted by on in Performance Management
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Performance management is a topic that tends to polarise many in the workplace.

In this blog, I am using the term to describe the whole performance management framework, not just strategies designed to address poor or remedial performance. Similar terms include appraisals, performance reviews, annual reviews etc.

Perceptions about the ‘why’ behind it and the ‘how’ we do it can often become a trigger to disengage teams and make managers feel inadequate and frustrated*.

Are you continuing to make a significant investment in time and energy yet the outcome has failed to contribute to building a positive performance culture? Sound familiar? You are not alone. 

Everyone recognises that the ability to develop and maintain a high performance culture is a critical characteristic of successful organisations. The process around that positive culture provides an important opportunity to: 

  • recognise, retain and reward your best performers.
  • encourage positive and sustained changes in behaviour.
  • promote a culture of accountability and transparency.
  • facilitate the achievement of individual and organisational goals.

So, while we know it makes sense to have a strong and meaningful performance management framework, the big question is how do we create it?  How can you make this expensive investment actually work for us and not against us!

It’s not something that can be achieved overnight but here’s a few ideas that might help:

Step 1: Do your homework

  • Reflect on what is a realistic program for your organisation.  Creating performance management processes that inevitably fail on implementation sends the wrong message to your teams about your leadership and undermines positive organisational culture. 
  • Consider a flexible and layered program that includes regular opportunities for informal feedback as well as more formal and documented systems.
  • Research the most successful schemes that are out there for your industry.  What works well? What parts could be integrated into your business?
  • Even in large organisations with generic schemes, some units manage the performance management process better than others. How they manage to engage staff is worth investigating, particularly if as a manager performance management reporting is a mandatory part of your role.
  • Consult on the framework with your teams and get their input on the best way to design, implement and monitor a positive performance management scheme.

Step 2: Get the building blocks right.

  • Review the components of the process to ensure that all your HR policies and procedures that touch on performance are current and consistent.
  • Differentiate in your documentation between poor conduct and poor performance.  The management response required in both circumstances can be quite different but both requires transparent guidelines and process.
  • Align position descriptions.  Use the performance management process as a regular opportunity to discuss the current roles to identify any significant changes to the duties involved.  This will also help you to identify any skill gaps or other professional development needs.

In my next blog, I discuss strategies to build engagement throughout the process and also the importance of managers developing their skills to leverage all potential opportunities offered by a robust framework.

In the meantime, if you would like to know more about creating and implementing an effective organisational performance management process, please contact us.

* Research conducted by PwC in the UK in June 2015, with 97 large companies (turning over £100 m per year) and 1038 employees found: “... growing frustration from employees and managers with the year-end performance process leading many organisations to focus on creating a continuous feedback culture to take the emphasis off the year-end appraisal.)”

Source: <http://pwc.blogs.com/press_room/2015/07/more-companies-planning-to-ditch-end-of-annual-performance-reviews-and-ratings-but-will-employees-be.html> Viewed 30 January 2016.

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