Performance management continually gets hotly debated and the merits of to rate or not to rate presents a crossroads for which there’s no easy choice. If we remove the traditional performance management structures is it time for a long goodbye to our mid-year reviews? Is it finally time for us to get back to our Summer’s without the stress!
Did performance management ever manage performance?
While named performance management, arguably did we ever really manage performance? If we cajoled and pushed our Managers into telling the top performers that they were great, and the bottom performers that they were underperforming then maybe we did. But if we’re being honest with ourselves, wouldn’t the top performers always perform at their best because they are motivated and driven individuals, did we really manage performance by confirming it? Arguably if they weren’t recognized it would demotivate them over time but let’s face it, there possibly wasn’t much managing there. Managing performance is rarely about telling someone they did good; that plays out more effectively through our recognition practices. If our job is to help manage organizational performance, are these still our best techniques?
Some Alternatives to consider
The sports industry got this right many years ago, putting athletes through their paces to deliver the very best. Reliving moments through video to spot the weaknesses, peer feedback a standard, continuous feedback where an opportunity was missed or where excellence was reached, building self-awareness in a player’s individual strengths and weaknesses. Players are coached into understanding their own strengths and how to optimize them, while recognizing the need to build on or work around their weaknesses. It’s a proven technique that builds on performance every time.
A Coaching Culture to Drive Performance
Yet in the business world we talk about coaching like it’s some sort of shameful therapy; asking leaders to engage in coaching practices is akin to asking them to forego the Midsummer BBQ; unpopular at best! So we subtly build it into our leadership programs, in the hope that they will see the light. But, if we want the very best performance from our people, perhaps it’s time to get bold with our asks of the business. Sure we can give up our traditional rating and performance practices, but not without a trade-off for a new way of working, and why wouldn’t we look to a proven means of managing performance; coaching.
- Aisling Teillard