Are you transforming Performance Management?
Avoid these 3 mistakes

Stefan Op de Woerd
Stefan Op de Woerd

Many organisations are actively seeking ways to transform their performance management. This is a positive development that makes good sense since the traditional performance management cycle is no longer fit for its purpose, that is effectively supporting employees to learn and perform better.

But, deciding to change your performance management cycle is only the beginning. How you go about putting this transformation into effect is critical to its ultimate success.

We previously described the critical factors for a successful performance management cycle in an e-book. In this blog, you will discover the 3 most common mistakes made by other organisations when seeking to transform their performance management. That way, you get a head start and can avoid falling into the same trap.

Mistake 1: Stop doing performance reviews

The phenomenon of performance reviews has never been a particularly popular one. Many employees experience them as more like being ‘on trial’, and certainly don’t expect appreciation for their contribution to the organisation or any form of incentive.

Consequently, more and more organisations are moving – amidst great fanfair – to get rid of performance reviews. It all sounds very attractive, of course, but sad to say, in most cases you’re having the wool pulled over your eyes. If your organisation wants to link pay to employee performance (and which organisation doesn’t), you cannot escape some form of appraisal. Which is a good job, because on the quiet employees do in fact prefer it if their performance is reviewed.

There’s nothing to stop you changing the way performance is reviewed, however. For example, you could give feedback from colleagues and customers a more prominent role in the review, make the intervals between reviews more flexible and hold them more frequently, or you could stop talking about ‘performance reviews’ and simply say ‘evaluation’ instead.

Whatever you decide, the key thing is taking time to review employees’ goals and development on a very regular basis. That way you can be sure that the performance review (or whatever you want to call it) does not contain any surprises.

Mistake 2: Buying a feedback tool

The fact that feedback is indispensable when it comes to effective performance management is not to our mind in dispute. Where it can go wrong however, is if – instead of being embedded in the performance review cycle – the feedback loop simply runs alongside it.

So, what’s going on here? Let’s imagine an organisation wants employees to give one another more feedback. To encourage this, a feedback tool is introduced. These tools make it a simple matter to give one another regular feedback. Then it turns out that people are not very motivated to do this of their own accord, so it becomes compulsory to gather feedback from your colleagues a few times a year. Before you know it, getting feedback has become an end in itself, instead of acting as a tool to help you develop and improve.

How can you avoid this situation? By integrating feedback so that it naturally becomes part of day-to-day work processes. Link it to the goals the employee wants to achieve and make it a standard part of retrospectives or work discussions.

Make performance management simple and effective?

Download our e-book “7 steps to transform your Performance Management”

Mistake 3: Making the new cycle compulsory

The aim of performance management is to give the best possible support to employees to help them learn and perform well. And, who is best placed to know what is needed for that to happen? You’ve got it… the employee!

Many organisations introduce a new performance management cycle designed – with the best of intentions – for the employees. And that’s precisely where the problem lies: designed for the employees, and not by the employees.

The key word is ownership. You can give employees tools to help them learn and perform, but ultimately it’s what works for the employee that matters. The more things are imposed from above, the less employees will feel and take ownership. So, beware of imposing targets, compulsory feedback loops and interminable planning and performance review forms.

That’s not to say that, as an organisation, you should just stand back and let it all happen. It’s a really good idea to agree a number of ground rules, such as targets and goals to which employees contribute, the core values of your organisation and preconditions to qualify for an extra pay rise.

So, how should you do it then?

If you can avoid these 3 common mistakes, you’ve already come a long way. With just a few tweaks, you can turn these mistakes into success factors for your new performance management cycle:

  1. Don’t stop doing performance reviews, do them differently
  2. Don’t introduce a separate feedback tool, embed feedback in your performance management cycle
  3. Don’t impose a process, give employees ownership

Looking to bring change to the performance management cycle in your organisation? Our free e-book ‘7 steps to an effective performance management cycle’ will help you get started. We wish you every success!

Read on..