Performance review time

We are approaching the time of year where many organisations are either setting performance objectives for the coming year or reviewing them for the one just gone. It raises the question as to how effective many of our performance management systems are?

I recently read an article in Personnel Today titled “Are performance management systems broken?” The article makes the following points:

  • Only just over 25% of organisations rate their performance management (PM) system as above average in the way they are conducted.
  • Conventional PM systems are backward looking and use forced distribution curves so a fixed percentage of employees will always come out as below satisfactory.
  • Large PM systems are complex and require a large HR support structure to prop them up.
  • Most PM systems are based on a view of the world that is “control-order-predict”… where we can realistically anticipate what an employee will need to be focusing on in 12 month’s time… increasingly difficult in rapidly changing environments.
  • The article puts forward a new model where there is an ongoing dialogue between manager and employee where there is a shared responsibility for the process.
  • The article concludes that “the idea of labeling people numerically will be seen as a blip in HR history” and that it is time to improve the conversations we have with our employees and do away with numerical performance ratings.

Are your PM systems really broken?

Reflecting on these findings, I do find a lot to agree with. I work with organisations who use traditional PM systems. HR contacts often report 99% compliance to reviews being carried out and on time. However, the same organisations report problems with employees scoring employee opinion survey questions related to PM. How can it be that in the same organisations significant numbers of employees report that they have not had a meaningful performance discussion with their manager in the last year?

Traditional PM systems put a huge and unrealistic burden on the managers who are responsible for administration of performance reviews. Often PM just becomes another process to be complied with. There is little conviction and the whole purpose of the process… improving poor performance or sustaining good performance is lost.

Think about the managers you have worked with who have made the biggest impact on your performance. How many were just great at administrating the organisations PM system? For me, the managers who made the biggest difference were the ones who took time to understand me, gave me open and honest feedback often and with whom I had regular and meaningful performance conversations.

What you can do to help

So is your performance management system broken? And if so, what are you doing about it? One area we find managers struggle with most is the ability to have direct, meaningful and behaviour-based performance conversations with their team members. If you would like to find out how to help your managers to be more effective at doing this, our highly acclaimed “Dealing with the Tough Stuff” workshops might be of interest. Based on the book of the same name, these workshops are about the science of human behaviour and understanding more about non-verbal and advanced communication techniques. We show delegates how to have more productive discussions in the workplace – and less conflict.

If you would like to download our free “10 tips for Dealing with the Tough Stuff” idea sheet and receive updates and news about improving performance in your organisation, please click here.