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Performance Management — Playing the Blame Game
Most managers and team-leaders know the perils and pitfalls of “Performance Management” and why it carries such a stigma in the employment context. In sum, performance management involves employers monitoring and reviewing an employee’s work objectives and overall contribution to an organisation. It is a process usually implemented following a perceived dissatisfaction with the employee’s performance. But like any potentially disciplinary mechanism, there can be some serious side effects. Trust, for one.
As the name implies, performance management can and usually is very much a one-way process. In many organisations, when ‘performance management’ is mentioned it creates negative feelings for people. For managers, it means extra administrative workload and worse still, the potential of having to confront awkward performance issues which have to be discussed with staff. For staff, it can be awkward to be confronted with performance improvement issues by a manager who may not have the necessary skills to deal with this complex interpersonal dynamic.
Another issue is timing. The performance appraisal is usually part of the Performance Review process — which in essence occurs only once a year. Good managers know that any metric worth reviewing is worth reviewing regularly. Financial performance and other key business indicators are generally monitored at least once a month in well-run companies. So why does employee performance take a backseat?
The New Constructive Approach
The new method on trend is ‘Performance Partnership’ — a mutually beneficial communication process between a manager and an individual team member designed to enhance each other’s performance. Performance Partnership goes a step further than Performance Management. It’s a two-way process where the performance agreement is established between the manager and their staff member at the same time. The outcome of an effective Performance Partnership meeting is that both the staff member and the manager have a clear understanding of each other’s expectations of how the other person will perform, and what the obligations are as the business moves forward.
For the staff member, this means the manager will understand what type of support, guidance, coaching, training, and communication he or she can provide to assist the staff member to develop new skills and achieve their best. For the manager, this means the staff member will have a clear understanding of their role, their key responsibilities, the results or outputs expected from their position, and potential areas for learning and development which could assist the staff member to achieve the desired performance.
If approached by both people in a positive and collaborative manner, the process improves communication, clarifies expectations, and identifies potential obstacles to performance before the employee launches into the job and builds trust. As such, Performance Partnerships are a fundamental aspect of developing a learning organisation which ultimately is the core foundation of an effectively performing organisation.
Staff learning from managers, managers learning from staff.