Of all the real challenges we face in managing the workforce, Performance Management really should be the bottom of the list (see almost any 2015 “top HR challenges” list for context). Don’t get me wrong: it’s not unimportant, it’s just such a simple process at the core than no company should have this as a top “challenge” to overcome. Here’s why …
We hire people to solve a business problem – we need revenue, we need customer satisfaction, we need things developed, etc. When we hire them, we give them training and guidance, put them to work at solving the problem, and then support them to help achieve their goal. We touch base with them regularly, and if (along the way) they seem to be off the path to achieving the desired goal, we talk to them about why or why not and then adjust our training and guidance to try to effect a change to get them back on track.
This, in essence, is performance management. It’s that simple: basic blocking and tackling by a manager supervising their team to reach their goals. It’s inexcusable to think that companies still struggle with this process and that there is now a whole sub-industry of technology and consulting. An industry aimed at helping with this task, when any manager could drive this from a single sheet of paper for each of their team members.
Why is it missing in so many companies? The root causes (IMHO) are mainly twofold:
1.People who should never be managers are hired or promoted as managers – I don’t care how good a developer you are, or what your Q4 quota attainment was: some people just do not have the behaviors to be effective managers. They could be too introverted, or perhaps to dictatorial, but there are too many people running teams that have no right to be in that position.
2.Lack of goals and visibility – We perform by executing tasks towards a goal. If neither the goal nor the result of the tasks is visible or known, it makes it pretty darned difficult to manage any process related to the performance.
Although I am (in general) a technology geek, I hate to see companies investing millions in performance management “platforms” because they’re so desperately grasping for lifelines to take a step back and see how simply and easily they could take some basic actions to accomplish 90% of what they need to do.
How does your company manage performance? Have you overcomplicated the process, or do you think it’s harder than it seems?