It’s not about the paper…
Someone recently asked me why the Performance Management process seems so painful in many organizations. They further questioned how lower-level managers could possibly implement effective performance management if the senior executive(s) are less than fully compliant themselves.
Man, oh man, do I have an opinion on this…
First, lower level leaders in an organization don’t get a free pass simply because some senior executive isn’t up to par. Leadership accountability is bigger than a simple reporting relationship.
If subordinate managers got an accountability “walk” every time more senior leaders were errant, we’d have but one or two accountable people in every organization, followed by a bunch of well-paid drones.
Sorry, Charlie. You have the position, you cash the check, and you have the personal accountability.
Next, performance management isn’t really difficult at all; most reasonably successful leaders/managers do some form of this on a regular basis. Think about it – for those who do not have a real formal process, do you still work on employees to improve their performance? For those who are late turning in those annual reviews to HR, have you been ignoring your employees all this time?
Of course not.
It’s the review process that’s typically broke all to hell. And frankly, that’s a system issue, not (necessarily) a leadership failing. In other words, most performance reviews exist, not for performance management, but for performance management documentation.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but we too often attempt to have those reviews do so much more than documentation. And if we do that without training all involved (both sides of the review equation) and without fully institutionalizing the process, well, we get what we usually get.
GIGO at its finest.
If an organization is reasonably successful, there’s probably a decent amount of effective performance management occurring.
Further, if that reasonably successful organization has a painful performance review process, then we should stop that right now… the review process should aid in performance management, not merely memorialize it for posterity.
What a concept, eh?