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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in performance management

In recent times, a number of large, high-profile organisations - such as Microsoft, Accenture, Adobe, Juniper and GE - have scaled back or dropped end-of-year reviews because they are not simply delivering the expected results, ie adding value to the business, encouraging  positive performance and providing an effective framework to deal with performance gaps.

So what’s the situation right now? How well would the stakeholders in your workplace rate your performance management program? 

Is it successful in retaining your best and brightest employees, boosting employee performance and building a positive work culture?

Does the program have credibility or is it seen as something to be endured to keep senior management happy?

Following on from the previous blog the next step in building a successful performance management program is -

Step 3: Develop strategies that engage people throughout

  • Ensure the policy clearly articulates the process for employee performance, ie how often performance will be reviewed, the methodology that will be used and the basis of any scoring system?
  • Ensure your process includes the opportunity for meaningful input from the team member – can they contribute to the discussion or is it one way only?
  • Create transparent business rules around remuneration policies that clearly outline any bonus or incentive schemes in place.
  • Invest in the KPI/goal setting part of the process. Really take some time to get this part right. Goal setting is a high risk area in terms of demotivating people if the goals are arbitrarily determined without sufficient opportunity for input. Most people have a very good antenna for judging whether their manager/leader is authentically interested in their views or not. Employees are far more likely to take ownership of goals if they provided input into their development.
  • Create a ‘clear line of sight’ with linkages to strategic and business planning goals to build engagement. This linkage is very important, in helping the whole team to understand the direction of the business, major priorities for the year ahead, and how each every individual is contributing to those goals through their work.
  • Use the SMART goals formula in creating goals that are: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timed.

Step 4: Upskill those responsible for implementing the program

Let’s be honest. Often the problem with performance management is not the program itself but the way in which it has been implemented.

  • Build communication skills for managers. We all know that not every manager is a great communicator or ‘people person’. They may have been promoted to their current role through another area of expertise altogether, climbed the ladder through many years of service, or been appointed to ‘act in the role’ years ago, during the great restructure of ’99!
  • Educate your managers on the process and how to have difficult conversations. Many people struggle with this type of difficult conversation and unfortunately, I see that lack of confidence manifest itself in ways such as delaying or avoiding performance conversations for extended periods of time. This usually creates further problems for the workplace as both good and poor performance is not appropriately addressed.
  • I have also heard horror stories of some managers engaging in the process with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer and others who try to deliver ‘criticisms’ so gently that the key message is lost altogether on the intended recipient.

This isn’t fair on anybody and certainly won’t add value to your organisation.

Step 5: Evaluate your program regularly


  • Feedback from the stakeholders on how well the program is meeting the objectives.
  • Useful information for the team member to reflect on their performance, but also to provide the organisation information to undertake more strategic HR analysis (for example, L&D, succession planning).
  • How many opportunities have arisen to acknowledge high performance and achievement.
  • How well poor performance is addressed and lifted to expectations.

The good news is, many PPM skills can be taught!  If you would like to know more about how to maximise performance management in your organisation, please contact us

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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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