Don’t Hide Behind Technology. This Isn’t Management by Pushbutton.

dialing_phoneAs great as a performance management system is in helping managers to dig deep into the effectiveness of an organization’s culture, how well employees are doing their jobs, and if the organization is meeting its objectives, it doesn’t take the place of getting out behind the desk and having face-to-face interactions with those employees being assessed. It is not enough to send a performance report and ask “if you have any questions just shoot me an email…”, leaving the onus to the employee to bring up anything that they might find worth mentioning.

Too many managers are hesitant (or afraid) to have straightforward and honest feedback with those they supervise. They might feel that too much honesty isn’t a good thing and too much transparency won’t allow a manager any place to hide when he delivers some bad news.

Well stop being passive aggressive. You’re not helping anyone.  Development won’t occur if important issues don’t get discussed out in the open. Like a successful marriage, the relationship between a manager and those he supervises should be constructive, open and honest. Sweeping issues under the rug, avoiding touchy subjects or failing to provide constructive criticism won’t get anyone anywhere. In highly sensitive situations, conflict may occur during this process, but can be mitigated if handled appropriately.

When a manager is faced with the responsibility of giving feedback on an employee’s performance, the experience no longer has to feel like a trip to the dentist. An effective performance management program should include the following:

1.    The process should be clearly communicated in advance.
2.    A manager should be provided training on how to conduct a performance evaluation.
3.    Reviews should be consistent for everyone across the organization.
4.    A system should be established that can address and resolve poor performance.
5.    Employees should expect feedback on their performance more than once a year.

The goal of performance management is to help the individual achieve measurable long-term change in their behavior by helping them become better leaders. The feedback meeting is just one step in the development process and a takeaway from this meeting should be an action plan that may include ongoing coaching to address the areas identified from the assessment.

In situations where an individual is a poor performer, this isn’t the time to figure out a way to push them out the door. It is the time to identify the areas in which they underperform and come up with a plan that will help them improve.  Everyone should be treated equally and be given the same opportunity to improve and become a valuable contributor. If, after they’ve been given the opportunity to improve and they don’t, other options might be warranted.

Unlike an annual review, feedback shouldn’t be a one-time event. A development plan should include periodic meetings to touch base, keep things on track, adjust, or change direction.

Having a fancy customized online performance management system is nice, but it can’t replace the value of face-to-face interaction between a manager and an employee. When you first start the performance review process, time spent with employees on sensitive topics will be a challenge and may be uncomfortable, but this is necessary for both the individual and the organization over the long run.

If you’ve ever tried to fix your phone bill or tried to disconnect the cable TV and you end up in service hell that directs you to press #2 for this and press #5 for that, you’ll understand why technology has its place in performance management, but won’t ever replace real person-to-person feedback.

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If you are looking for a street-tested performance management system, look no further than PerformanceSUMTM. This industrial strength system has a library of over 65 competencies arranged in 11 super-factor groups to help managers get the most from their employees. With the flexibility to accommodate up to 50,000 participants on a global platform, PerformanceSUM’s modular system can handle the needs of an organization including goal setting, appraisals, 360s, mid-year reviews and succession management.

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