Most organisations fall flat when dealing with day-to-day performance issues. Yet, it’s this aspect of performance management that makes or breaks the high-performance culture we’re all trying to achieve. Managers typically spend more time solving problems than they do driving performance. I sat in a very interesting performance review meeting this week. Same week, I had to conduct an induction and performance management awareness training to the new employees. Selling my skill and time to an organisation came to a test. Performance review meeting is a 360 degrees process. It’s a wheel and we need to manage it as such. There is much more to performance management than the annual performance review meeting.
As mentioned in the introduction, performance management is a continuous process of planning, monitoring and reviewing employee performance. For a performance management system to be effective, employee progress and performance must be continuously monitored. After my meeting, I decided there is a lot to teach and learn about this process. Most managers decide to do the reviews only towards the end of financial year of the organisation. This is because we mainly link performance with bonuses. I stand to be corrected, that’s not the main objective of performance review. If we go that route, then performance management review becomes a “tick box exercise”.
Performance management is a process by which managers and employees work together to plan, monitor and review an employee’s work objectives and overall contribution to the organisation. More than just an annual performance review, performance management is the continuous process of setting objectives, assessing progress and providing on-going coaching and feedback. This is to ensure that employees are meeting their objectives and career goals. Performance management includes coaching employees to address concerns and issues related to performance so that there is a positive contribution to the organisation. Most managers even myself tend to forget that coaching is part of performance management. Coaching means providing direction, guidance, and support as required on assigned activities and tasks.
According to the American Management Association, coaching is an interactive process that helps another person learn something or take performance to the next level. As a coach, managers need to recognise strengths and weaknesses of employees and work with employees to identify opportunities and methods to maximise strengths and improve weak areas. The role of the coach is to demonstrate skills and to give the employee feedback and reassurance while he or she practices new skills. Good listening skills, on the part of the coach, together with the ability to deliver honest feedback are crucial. In a coaching role, you are not expected to have all the answers. The strategic power of any coaching dialogue lies primarily in the coach’s ability to ask the right questions. Coaching to improve team performance may need different approaches for different teams and different people. What works for one team may not necessarily work for another.
Many managers work under the illusion that focusing on poor results will magically improve them; thereby confusing business issues with performance issues. You can’t focus on failure to achieve the desired results and entreating people to try harder will not change the result. Focusing on performance, the behaviour choices and skill applications people make can change the results. Coaching is another way that will improve performance. Let’s coach employees to improve performance in organizations.