Research by Gallup scientists identified three different dimensions that provided the simplest and most comprehensive definition of performance that best statistically predicts overall success in a role:
- Individual achievement: Responsibilities that individual employees must achieve independently.
- Collaboration with team members: How effectively employees work with their teammates.
- Customer value: Impact an employee’s work has on customers.
That means that performance development (based on the above-mentioned dimensions) may require more critical thinking than organisations of today may be doing.
Organizations appear to be more involved in measuring performance on traditional parameters. Appraisal system has been often criticised for being too ritualistic, excessively documentation-oriented, and following many practices/steps which sometimes defeat the very purpose of appraisals. Due to such reasons, performance appraisals often fail to achieve the real objectives which are development of organisational, team, and individual capabilities.
HR Guru Josh Bersin wrote in his latest released book Irresistible: “The performance-appraisal process is often like a set of handcuffs for management. This old-fashioned approach was designed for a different era. What I’ve learned from my research is that this process is only useful when your goal is to shrink the company and reduce costs. In every other business situation, it causes problems…In my 45 years as an employee, I probably sat through 40 or more of these uncomfortable meetings, and I can remember only one that truly gave me inspiration or help to do better. In almost every case, I felt the process was a waste of time, a disappointing conversation, or a meeting that left me walking out of the office wondering if I really wanted to continue to work at the company.”
As such, organisations need proactive performance management interventions. The ultimate goal of performance management in organisations is to facilitate conditions under which individuals, dyads, and teams perform best so that the organization may deliver the best results in the context of its short-term as well as long-term objectives. The process has to be ongoing, continuous, and in alignment with the strategic goals of the organisation.
Father of modern HR Dave Ulrich wrote, “Accountability matters. Without personal and public accountability, people don’t improve and organizations do not meet expectations. This means focusing much less on appraisal as a bureaucratic, annual process, and much more on performance accountability where leaders hold positive conversations with employees, mutually establish expectations, link expectations to consequences, implement accountable reward systems, and follow up on performance.”
Research on engagement and performance has demonstrated that employees’ aspirations for career development & growth are higher on priority than salary. Performance management with a proactive perspective would involve setting performance expectations/goals/KPIs & KRAs (as well as competencies required for the same). Then it requires check-ins between manager and team which may involve one-to-one discussions on work progress & facilitators and inhibitors (both organisational and individual).
Further, the process may involve goal-related feedback. Performance feedback would involve monthly or quarterly reviews of progress along with constructive, positive, and relevant data-driven evidence-based feedback. In all this while, the boss is supposed to act as a coach providing support and exploring possibilities by asking the right questions. Further, performance reviews would involve annual reviews which are more formal with a rating and development plan involving job rotation or growth through internal mobility planning. In proactive performance, the critical areas are regular check-ins, constructive feedback, and coaching.
Coaching would involve asking the right questions and providing insights on self-exploration & unlocking potential for employees and giving them support and strength in the direction they are progressing and a belief that the work environment facilitates development of talent.
Performance management of future may involve tapping internal experience and organisational knowledge by encouraging learning through experience involving job rotation and facilitation of cross-functional exposure through assignments/projects. After all, what matters is performance development through performance accountability so what has to be encouraged is accountability and not measurement.