Performance Development: A New Paradigm for the Workplace of Tomorrow
The old performance management model, driven by ratings scales and annual appraisals is slowly making way to new systems and new ways of thinking about how organizations can really assess their employees.
I remember the first time I received an official “performance review.” It was a 90 day review after I was hired at a new organization. I sat in a room with my manager to go over my review. To this day, I can’t remember the particular competencies on which I was evaluated. However, I do remember that I only scored three out of five on all of them, despite meeting all expectations. My manager said, “You’ve done great on all of these things, but I can’t rate you five because there is always room for improvement and we need to reflect that in the ratings.”
I signed off on the document, received a copy for my own records, and I left the meeting trying to figure how I might someday earn the illustrious four out of five. My manager never told me how I might be able to do that. My performance development plan was rooted squarely in the “guess and check” method, something that works great on a multiple choice math test but not so well as a career development strategy. I’m not sure what happened to the copy of my review that my manager kept. Perhaps it is in a museum somewhere, a relic of the past. Perhaps it’s still in that same filing cabinet. We may never know.
All things considered, I do strongly agree with one part of this experience—there is always room for improvement. But left to my own devices, devoid of any sort of constructive feedback, how am I supposed to figure out what I need to improve in a way that is going to drive the business forward?
Top-notch managers can drive top-notch performance by working with employees to set effective goals, then measure and manage those goals. It is valuable to look at past performance and evaluate success and failure, but it is equally if not more valuable to look to the future and plan for future growth and development. Managers should take an always-on approach to monitoring employees’ progress against goals, so that they can proactively offer coaching and course-correct when necessary, ideally before an employee has moved too far off the mark.
Managerial and leadership skills are not always inherent, especially in first-time managers. But they are skills that can be learned. In fact, a recent live poll of HCI webcast attendees revealed that, 87% agreed that leadership can be trained. Further, companies must train managers to be effective in the competencies for which they are held accountable. By engaging managers in effective training and development, organizations build a culture of accountability, development and continuous improvement. Perhaps even more importantly, developing this culture of improvement is critical to the retention of high performers.
In a recent HCI webcast, Yuval Dvir, Head of Online Partnerships @Google for Work, extended this knowledge about the role of performance management in individual careers to its importance in managing effective teams. In today’s knowledge economy, managing and leading teams requires a keen understanding of how to engage each individual in the collective and maximize the contributions of all. To discover more on this topic, view this webcast on demand: “Teamwork Makes the Dream Work: Applying Modern Performance Management Concepts to Teams.”