The term “performance management” in business can tend to have dirty connotations as it is often used to describe the process of managing an underperforming employee person out of the business. This perception of the term could not be further from the essence of what performance management should be about.
Managing an employee’s performance is only possible through regular communication and monthly reviews. In high performing sporting teams, player’s performance is relentlessly reviewed. At the end of each quarter of football, the coach heads straight out onto the ground to address the team. Players receive immediate communication and feedback on what the team has done well, what they can do better and what the plan is for the rest of the game.
Whilst most organisations have an annual review system, this is far too infrequent and often ends up being a salary review rather than a performance review. How are we meant to change the course of the game if we wait until the final siren to review our performance?
Review and reflection is essential for continuous improvement and forms a fundamental part of the Kaizen model which is a philosophy I have personally used throughout my career;
Kaizen means continuous improvement involving everyone in the organisation from top management to workers. Kaizen is a Japanese philosophy for process improvement that can be traced to the meaning of the Japanese words ‘Kai’ and ‘Zen’, which translate roughly into ‘to break apart and investigate’ and ‘to improve upon the existing situation’. It is a philosophy of never being satisfied with what was accomplished last week or last year.
The way we review our employees is also important in ensuring its effectiveness. A review should not be about the Manager telling the employee what theirs strengths and challenges are – let the employee take control and talk. Reviews should not take more than 30mins with the employee speaking for 25mins and the Manager for 5mins.
This approach indoctrinates self-management into the essence of a performance management system and allows employees to articulate their accountabilities and understand what makes them successful and what makes them unsuccessful. Employees become responsible and accountable for reviewing their own performance to their managers, which keeps them in tune and aware with their day to day wins and area of improvement.
Managers need to encourage their employees to become ‘addicted to progress’ through regular reviews and constant focus on development and continual improvement. Employees remain engaged when they feel like they are moving forward, not standing still.