Processes that are fundamentally human are getting policed with too much structure and complexity, making them disorienting and ineffective. This lust for systems and processes has bled into the realm of performance management, which is fundamentally about an employee and a business, and the commitments those two entities promise one and other. We need to refocus the spotlight from structure to the ongoing connectedness and iteration of this relationship.
Make It Personal
We all practice performance management in our personal lives. For example, I often think about ‘performance managing’ my kids. I don’t manage my children in a structured, methodical style that focuses only on right and wrong, but in a way that engages and promotes the type of people I want my children to become. To teach them curiosity, I promote questions; to teach them discipline, I promote boundaries; to teach them lifelong success, I promote excitement in whatever they wish to pursue. By fostering this type of relationship, I hope to shape my children to become the very best adults they can be. They will not only have the skills to be successful, but the necessary skills to be valuable, compassionate, and significant members of society.
Performance management will be more successful if we approach employee relationships in the same manner as we approach our personal relationships. This includes fostering a two-way communication loop which allows the clearly defined goals and outcomes of the organisation to be in sync with the goals and outcomes of employees.
It includes leaders demonstrating their authenticity and true selves at work in the same manner that they do with their loved ones. It includes heartfelt conversations that are honest and meaningful, building trust.
Three Elements of Performance Management Design
First, determine your organisation’s philosophy. This includes clearly defining your goals and objectives and communicating them to your employees. Equally important is learning your employees' goals and objectives and seeing where they align with your organisation’s.
Practice your authentic self. Who do you want to be when you're at work? What makes you the leader that you are? How can you show employees that you are a genuine leader? Delivering an authentic persona will enable your employees to trust you, gaining you access to more honest and valuable insights.
Implement a performance management system that has a clearly defined organisational philosophy. This is more important than having clearly defined process steps.
Performance management needs to be an honest conversation between two people. When employees feel that their managers are authentic and genuinely care about their goals, opinions, and wellbeing, performance management stops being a step-by-step process and transforms into an ongoing conversation.