Performance Management Gone Astray
Few business processes are as misunderstood, misapplied, ignored, and/or loathed as the performance management process. Managers dislike giving performance reviews about as much as employees dislike getting them. Often times, they are delayed, deferred, or reduced to a perfunctory task. Or worse.
The latest example comes from a recent Wall Street Journal article by Chip Cutter. The author cites major corporations that have decided to amp up their performance evaluation processes, some incorporating higher standards that all but ensure mediocre to poor ratings for a significant number of their employees. Those scoring below the acceptable range are put into probationary status and are given a certain period of time to improve or face dismissal. Of course, both the organization and the team members involved know that the odds of improving their performance score in such a short period of time are very low. So, when the “probationary” period is over, they are dismissed for cause. This approach enables the organization to avoid the painful, disruptive and often expensive process of wide-spread layoffs. This is done in the name of “performance management.”
A comprehensive, robust and effective performance management system is designed to help team members and their supervisors understand and commit to a plan of contribution, accomplishment and alignment between organizational objectives and each individual employee. Carefully constructed, discussed, monitored and adjusted during the year (at least quarterly) a dynamic performance process can and should help employees maximize their contribution while giving supervisors an opportunity to offer meaningful, real-time performance feedback designed to help the employee strengthen their skill set and advance their career potential.
As the challenge to attract, retain and develop top talent increases, taking a comprehensive, strategic approach to performance management will become a necessary organizational competency. It need not be complex or get in the way or the “real work” of the enterprise. Done correctly, it can help create a real competitive advantage that is difficult for others to replicate.
For more information on ways your organization can develop a customized, effective performance management process, 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.