Like many focused on improving the workplace, QwikCoach has grown increasingly concerned about the current state of performance management. We know organizations must find better ways to support performance improvement.
In this 2-part series we’ll explore this important topic, share our concerns, and recommend action.
- Part 1 presents our position, provides observations, and offers some high-level recommendations for moving forward.
- Part 2 offers specific actions each of the key constituents/stakeholders must take to improve workplace performance.
- As coaches, we see that traditional performance management systems have not served individuals or organizations well.
- Performance Management has begun a long overdue transformation. However, it’s far from complete and must continue. Please take a look at this interesting article.
- Leaders, outside vendors, and internal HR/Talent must implement changes that promote performance improvement.
- Improving the ability of people to perform and contribute is critically important. However, to be effective, it must be a shared responsibility:
- Individuals must be open to receiving support designed to help them succeed.
- Organizations must develop managers and leaders so they are able to provide support to others.
- Those who develop performance support systems (internal and external sources) must enhance them to reflect what really works.
- While performance management has been around for decades, its use has done little to help individuals improve their performance. That’s because the emphasis has not been on improving performance but on documenting it.
- Goals are set at the beginning of the performance year. Assessments are performed at the end of the year.
- QwikCoach calls the period between goal setting and assessment “the void” because little to no support is typically provided to help people:
- Address common performance issues,
- Overcome obstacles,
- Achieve goals,
- Build needed skills, or
- Break old and dysfunctional habits.
- To add to the dysfunction, committees often review performance ratings and adjust them to fit a “normal distribution.”
- Individual performance however does not typically fit the characteristics of a normal distribution. Rather, studies show that performance typically fits what’s called a “Power Law” distribution. Check out this article.
- Breaking the performance contract (adjusting performance ratings to fit a normal distribution) is therefore not a good idea. Rather, it’s a bad one and has corresponding negative impacts on individuals and organizations.
- The absence of support, failure to help people excel, and adjusting performance ratings by committee are just some of the dysfunctions associated with performance management systems that prevail in many organizations today.
- Today, forward thinking leaders are looking for better ways to enhance workplace performance.
Enter the era of Agile Performance Management
We’ll begin with three high-level recommendations:
- Overall, performance management needs to turn its focus away from documenting performance to enhancing it. This does not mean that documenting (measuring) goes away. It means the emphasis shifts to enhancement and becoming more “agile.”
- Change the Name: Names matter and QwikCoach would like to see organizations replace Performance Management with Performance Enhancement.
- Focus on Enhancing Performance and Being More Agile: A new focus on enhancing performance will require organizations to adapt a more agile approach.
- Agile Performance Management emphasizes more frequent goal setting, pervasive coaching, continuous feedback, and just-in-time collection of performance metrics.
- Being more agile also means moving away from a reliance on the annual review.
Achieving meaningful and lasting performance improvement will require fundamental change from each “stakeholders.” Each one plays a critical role when it comes to improving workplace performance.
We’ll discuss recommendations related to each of these groups in Part 2 .