Performance management has embedded itself in most organisations in the last few decades. It is now a part of the modern manager’s work. The question is, what value does it add when many see it as a mere tick-box exercise?
Performance management needs to be put into context. Does the manager understand the full HR cycle? A member of the team is recruited, often at great expense, inducted and then get on with their job. One day, they leave, and there may be an exit interview. Often the bit that is left out is performance management. Once a year, the manager and team member sit down and spend thirty minutes filling in a form for no purpose.
The value is in regular management meetings, covering the whole job, and focusing on how the individual is contributing to the customer, the team, and, crucially, how they can be developed to meet the team and customer needs. Often these meetings are either postponed or cancelled. And when they are held, the manager may not have the skills or experience to ensure the employee positively owns the discussion and takes something from it.
Good performance management truly can transform organisations, and create, in the words of Peter Drucker, “individuals with a management mindset.” This is not some Orwellian phrase to be avoided. It means ensuring the future of the organisation by all staff understanding the threats and opportunities of the environment, and contributing positively to decision making, rather than keeping their head down, only interested in their job.
Steve Morley is Managing Director of strategy house Sango Consulting. He spent ten years working in campaigns, marketing and communications for big NGOs, before setting up his own consultancy in 2006. He has since worked in over fifty organisations across all sectors.