Transformation Solutions Blog

Two Steps to Improving your Performance Management Process

August 11th, 2014

It’s no secret that HR and line leaders around the world have been searching for the “perfect” performance management process.  Some have even gone so far as to suggest that we don’t need performance reviews at all.  However, the hard truth about performance management is that its success requires facing up to the fact that it is challenging and sometimes unpleasant work.  So rather than searching for the next great “thing” in performance management, ensuring the fundamentals are in place will make the process successful.

To improve your PM process the first question you should ask your executive team is:  “What problem should performance management be solving?”  This answer will guide how you design and operationalize the process, and what you will hold leaders accountable for.  The answer to this question will help you create your talent philosophy: How important is performance in your organization? At what threshold (good or bad) do you really care about someone’s behaviors? How much do you want to differentiate between average performers and high performers?  Without a talent philosophy you won’t have a foundation on which to build your performance management system.  More importantly, without a talent philosophy, your executives will send employees conflicting messages about standards and consequences of performance and behaviors.

Another tool that will improve your PM process is to ensure managers are discussing performance with their employees more than once a year (at the annual review).  Establish the expectation that quarterly conversations need to take place with every employee.  This conversation can be completed in about 15 minutes.  A simple, but effective framework would require the manager to make two comments on progress against their current goals and two comments about what to do more of/less of in the future.

When done correctly performance management is the most powerful performance driving process in your organization.  Scientific evidence is conclusive that delivering regular feedback incrementally increases individual performance.  Knowing what you are trying to accomplish, and building a culture where regular feedback is the norm are two steps that can garner significant strides.