Recommended Action Steps
Last week, in Part 1 of this 2-part series, we talked about the current state of performance management and the urgent need for change. We said that a traditional focus on annual reviews with little additional support to help people improve their performance had not served individuals or organizations well and that a transition to a more agile approach was needed.
We also said that to have a successful transition that specific actions would be required by each of the key constituents/stakeholders each of whom play a critical role in today’s complex “performance equation.”
Here’s our take on what each “group” can do to move performance enhancement to a better place:
Organizations — and those who lead them in HR and the C-Suite — need to:
- Step Back. Start by considering the outcomes and results desired when it comes to managing – or as we prefer to say enhancing — individual performance. Why do you have a system? What’s its purpose — its raison d’etre (reason for existence)? What outcomes to you want it to produce?
- Take Stock. Document your current process by recording the specific activities associated with your current process. Is it limited to setting goals and assessing performance or does it come closer to encompassing all of the activities associated with a more agile approach outlined in Part 1?
- Think Forward. Consider how you might adjust your current approach or create an entirely new one to make it more agile. To this end, consider the major components of having a more agile approach including the need to:
- Set goals and adjust them frequently to reflect changing business priorities.
- Provide frequent just-in-time coaching, feedback, and related learning and development activities.
- Establish performance metrics and collect contemporaneous data from informed observers, colleagues, customers, and managers.
- Conduct frequent and regular “one-on-ones” to review goals and results and make appropriate adjustments.
- Provide rewards and recognition and insure that there is a “social” component to them.
- Emphasize individual growth and development and integrate this focus with the creation and execution of IDPs (Individual Development Plans).
- Take Action. Create a new vision for your performance enhancement environment and develop a detailed plan for achieving it. The plan will range from simple to complex depending on your current state but will likely include 2 very important elements:
- For managers and leaders at all levels to be more effective workplace performance coaches so they feel competent and comfortable coaching others whenever needed.
- For Workers at all levels to understand what coaching is, how it benefits them, and what their role is when being coached.
Just-in-time support and access to coaching resources – in-person and virtually – so everyone benefits by having access to the support that make the difference when it comes to helping people enhance their performance.
If you’re a manager or leader in an organization that has an effective performance enhancement process, follow it and always be on the lookout for ways to improve it. If your organization does not have an effective process — you’re not “off the hook“ – you still can take effective action. At a minimum learn to listen actively, coach effectively, and give meaningful and frequent feedback. QwikCoach would be hard-pressed to name any organization that would object to having managers who excelled at helping other succeed.
Individuals — every member of the organization or those who are sole practitioners — need to:
- Step Back: Take a moment to consider where you are with respect to managing and enhancing your own performance. Are you in a good place? Would you like to be in a better place?
- Take Stock: Consider what you currently do – the specific activities you engage in — when it comes to improving your own performance at work and what you can do to enhance performance related activities. Do this whether you’re working for an organization or you’re “on your own.”
- Think Forward: Consider if your performance improvement efforts are working for you? If yes, continue them. If not, commit to change whatever you can on your own. Here are some signs that indicate change is needed:
- You set goals and become frustrated when you discover they are outdated within a short time because the organization’s focus has shifted.
- You have no personal development plan.
- You feel lost, don’t feel appreciated, and need some direction.
- Your company advocates coaching but you’re not getting any.
- You need feedback to stay on course or make adjustments.
- You have no idea if you’re being successful or not.
- Take Action: If you work for an organization that has an effective performance enhancement program stay actively involved. Ask questions and participate fully. If your workplace doesn’t have an effective program you can work to change it but in the meantime there are steps you can take immediately on you own to make things better.
- Create your own personal development plan. Even if not sanctioned or required by the organization, you can and must continue to engage in self develop. The best way to ensure you do is to have a written plan. The internet provides access to a wide variety of great resources – some free some not. Take advantage of them. Include them in your plan. Commit to being a continuous learner.
- Ask for feedback. Whether from friends, colleagues, teammates, or managers, don’t wait for others to offer feedback – be proactive. It’s never a bad thing to ask “how am I doing?” or “what could I do better?” or any other leading questions designed to initiate feedback.
- Find a coach or mentor. There are people all around you who like to help and support others. Find them. Engage them.
- Be a good coachee or mentee. Coaching and mentoring are important and well-defined processes. To be a good recipient of either you should know how they work. Take the initiative and learn.
Developers of Performance Support Systems
Here our advice is simple: Those who develop solutions must endeavor to elevate their products to encompass the latest thinking about what makes performance enhancement efforts really work and add valued accordingly.
Today many of these support systems are designed to handle administrative tasks associated with executing what can often be a complex process. This type of help is important, especially in large organizations where the number of people involved is large and the volume of data and information is considerable. But each solutions provider must ask this question:
Does my solution directly help people improve their ability to perform?
If the answer is “no” or “not sure” – it’s time to consider ways to enhance the offering.
To put it as simply as we can – the time has come to fundamentally change the way we address performance improvement in the workplace.
Progress has been made but much more is needed.
People need to have access to new and better resources and all of us need to recognize the need for just-in-time performance support and implement effective ways to provide it.