We have been hearing for quite some time now that perhaps we should rethink, even get rid of performance management. My response to that is you have got to be kidding me! Why on earth would we remove performance management? Although I don’t want to get into debating semantics, most of the references really refer to the good old performance appraisal. We all know that having a performance appraisal is often associated with a degree of nervousness from both the manager as well as the employee. We know that they don’t work very well when the manager fails to communicate with staff member throughout the performance period and then has a discussion which comes as a complete surprise to the poor staff member, is soul destroying. However, as they say, let’s not be too eager to chuck the baby out with the bathwater.
Let us reflect.
The true meaning of performance management is that managing performance is an ongoing conversation. Ideally, these conversations would occur on a regular basis, contain no surprises and provide opportunities for two-way feedback. That’s the ideal! If this were to occur, when we got to the formal check-in (performance appraisal), at mid-year or at years’ end there would be no need for anxiety because there would be no surprises. The conversations would have been meaningful and ongoing. If you get my meaning.
Unfortunately, very often, this doesn’t happen and therefore there is a lack of communication: of any sort. It builds up throughout the year or performance period and culminates with an extremely uncomfortable meeting. In preparation for this meeting , very often, the manager scurries around looking for information about their staff member and the staff member approaches the meeting negatively because the manager hasn’t paid them any type of attention to them. Of course, this is a recipe for dissatisfaction.
My major concern about removing performance management processes is that on the rare occasion one needs to manage a staff member with a view to termination, you potentially lose your evidentiary trail. So, to not manage performance on a regular basis will render your organisation vulnerable for fair dismissal proceedings should you go ahead and terminate. Be warned!
In addition, it would be more widely felt is that if you are managing performance effectively, you would be providing staff members with positive feedback, engaging staff opinions and enhancing the esprit de corps within the team or group. You would also be having conversations with them about their developmental needs and possibly career direction. These conversations are extremely important in terms of the staff feeling appreciated and you as a manager or business owner demonstrating that you are concerned and care about their needs. They are also important for you as a manager or business owner because it helps you keep your finger on the pulse on where your staff’s thinking may be. Important don’t you think?
Throwing out performance appraisal might not be a bad thing however the essential consideration would be what is going to take its place and how would it work!