Performance Management: A Three-Step Approach Toward Accountability and Results
Few subjects are more widely discussed and more misunderstood than performance management. Today, with the demand for qualified people higher than ever before, the impact of performance management has never been greater. Sadly, most performance appraisal processes are perfunctory at best and demoralizing at worst. There’s a better, simpler way. We call this three-step process Dynamic Performance Appraisal.
To a New Level
Performance management can be distilled into three parts:
- Responsibilities (what are the major functions of my job?)
- Goals (what is it that I need to accomplish this year?)
- Work-related behaviors (how will I go about it?)
Responsibilities for major job functions takes the traditional “job description” to a new level. Since we begin with what is essentially a blank form, a dialogue between the supervisor and the direct report enables us to get clear, concise agreement on what we need from the team member in order to accomplish both department and organizational objectives. There may only be four or five of these items, or as many as (but not more than) 10. You may want to have the job description on hand but only as a reference point. The company’s strategic plan and the department plan and budget are more useful tools for this exercise.
Once the responsibilities are written out, each is ranked in order of importance/impact with the total reaching 100 (this for the scoring part of the document). This is essential to have both the supervisor and the employee focus on the highest value, most impactful responsibilities; something “job descriptions” fail to do. For example, you may have nine items listed; three are ranked at 20 points each, two at 10 and four at five points.
The next step is to determine goals. Here again, we refer to the operating plan for guidance. If the organization is to be successful, what must that individual accomplish in a way that provides a meaningful, measurable contribution? Each goal should be discussed openly and agreed upon by the employee and his/her supervisor. It must be specific and measurable. For instance, “develop a better understanding of ... ” is not a measurable goal. There may be as many as (but again, not more than) 10 goals and each is assigned a point value based upon its impact/importance. No matter how many goals are assigned and weighted, the total for this section will amount to 100.
The third and final step focuses on work-related behaviors. This is an important but often overlooked part of individual performance management. Yet, it is easy to see how it brings balance to the process. In short, we are measuring performance by three criteria: responsibilities/job functions; goals/accomplishments; and work-related behaviors.
The first of these, responsibilities are the primary reason why most people are hired. That is, their background and experience match the responsibilities of the job. The second, goals are what get people promoted; they get things done. The third, work-related behaviors, are most often what lead to employees being terminated, yet they rarely appear in traditional performance appraisals.
What are work-related behaviors? Ideally, these are derived from the values of the organization. Examples may include:
- Respect for everyone
- Courage to speak your mind
- A servant’s heart
- Commitment to personal and professional growth
For more information and for a sample Dynamic Performance Appraisal Form, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Joseph P. Truncale, Ph.D., CAE, is the Founder and Principal of Alexander Joseph Associates, a privately held consultancy specializing in executive business advisory services with clients throughout the graphic communications industry.
Joe spent 30 years with NAPL, including 11 years as President and CEO. He is an adjunct professor at NYU teaching graduate courses in Executive Leadership; Financial Management and Analysis; Finance for Marketing Decisions; and Leadership: The C Suite Perspective. He may be reached at Joe@ajstrategy.com. Phone or text: (201) 394-8160.