A quick search on Amazon informs me that there have been over 1,000 books published about performance management in the last three months, and the year is only just half over. This tells me that interest in performance management is still high, and that many people seem to have a good idea of how it should be done. But even the best performance management (PM) strategies are useless without implementation; which is why i4cp's upcoming research on PM focuses on the smaller, tactical changes that can effect PM usefulness and increase employee productivity.
One the easiest PM adjustments to make--as far as time and money needed for implementation--is increasing transparency. Although transparency is a term that gets tossed around quite a bit these days, organizations that freely share their PM rationales remain in the minority: only 45% of organizations polled indicated that their performance management processes were transparent to all employees.
By being open with the goals of each department, at every level, and by explaining to employees how everyone is reviewed, managers are able to help employees connect the dots--to see how their roles fit into the company as a whole, and how improvements in their performance can have a real bottom line impact.
Secondly, managers need help. Very few employees will admit to not knowing how to do their jobs, but that doesn't mean that all (or even most) managers intrinsically know how to properly give feedback, motivate, or instruct; yet these are the very skills organizations expect them to magically acquire when they are promoted into management positions. What these managers need is coaching.
Coaching is another overlooked area of performance management. Only 29% of organizations always include coaching as a part of the PM process--according to i4cp's forthcoming Creating a High-Performance Culture study--despite a direct correlation between coaching as a part of PM and i4cp's Market Performance Index (MPI). The role of coaching in PM has been egregiously ignored in business, and the time to fix that problem is now.
Like transparency, coaching is another solution that does not require a systemic overhaul. Regardless of whether your organization has a three-point, five-point, or ratingless method of PM, adding coaching to the PM process can be achieved quickly. And although the spend is much greater than increasing transparency, the benefits from coaching are potentially much higher.
Once managers have the ability to teach, motivate, and otherwise understand and inspire employees, improving workforce performance will stop being a chore and become something that is a natural consequence of managerial actions. Like many management principles, no single action is enough to create or maintain high performance. Instead, the suggestions here are a more general shift towards practices that have been shown to be the hallmarks of high-performance organizations. Other actions that promote high-performance can be found in i4cp's upcoming report "Creating a High-Performance Culture," available August 2014.
For those with less patience, consider joining i4cp's Performance Management Exchange, which is a research-driven working group that focuses on critical PM next practices in areas like integrated PM practices, lean PM, and leadership capability. Join the exchange today for immediate access.
Additional information about the author and i4cp's upcoming research projects is available by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.