“It is no use saying “we are doing our best.” You have to succeed in doing what is necessary”, said Winston Churchill.
Organizations operate in a competitive world and often are pitted against others with global players. It is a war and a sport at the same time. They need to do their best each day and win the game. They need the best talent, form a winning team, nurture their potential and expect the best results.
Traditionally, organizations had a process to set goals at the start of a year, review them at the end of the year and hand out results of the review individually based on the relative ranking of the individual’s performance in a business group. This system has become passé. Millennials in the employee population expect quick inputs and continuous coaching rather than waiting for the ritual of few minutes’ discussion at the end of the year. Sometimes, business situations are so volatile that goals are set monthly and quarterly.
Even if annual goals are relevant, one can do nothing to improve performance unless course-corrections are carried out at the right time. Appraisals have reduced to an exercise of salary review and communicating the results to each employee. Recent research has shown that performance appraisals have become a huge administrative process of filling up forms, creating spreadsheets, drawing graphs and running a few simulations to decide salary hike %ages. This doesn’t help the organization raise its game and succeed in its business. Why should we be engaging in such a wasteful activity? Let’s rather do something that will help the organization succeed, the team to win and the individual to feel proud!
We do not appraise the performance of family members once a year. If someone in the family has ideas, behaviours or actions different from the others, we discuss, debate and settle down with a steady state. The head of the family does not sit down with each member in the family one to one, switch off all distractions, focus giving objective feedback and so on. I wonder why an organization has to do this in the form of performance appraisal. After all, it is one of the most expensive processes in a firm!
Sure, performance has to be managed pretty much like many things such as expenses, time and other resources. Performance levels are to be defined clearly, they have to be understood and one has to make all attempts to meet or exceed those levels.
We have to build the culture of performance management rather than performance appraisal. The managers have to be trained to set targets on time, not only communicate the targets and measure them periodically but most importantly, they need to enable the members of the team achieve those. Like we debate and discuss topics in a family, the manager has to discuss performance and explore ways of improving the same. Members of the team may need coaching, some systems may need a change, and additional resources may have to be deployed and so on. When we provide this level of care, the saw gets sharpened and the team is in a much better shape than ever before to succeed. Why should they leave a caring and winning team?
Teams, communities, organizations and groups alike, thrive on their people and the spirit drives them forward. There will always be a variety of people in a group: some lift heavy loads happily, some provide master strokes selectively, some are laggards and many are well-meaning contributors. The leader has to carry all of them along the journey. No one-type can help the team succeed. Each one of them have a unique role to play in the puzzle. So, it is important that the leader is open about recognizing this fact and establish a ground rule of respect in the team.
Transparent measurement of performance and recognition of potential must be skilfully practised by the leader. Sometimes, a member might exceed targets but it could just be a spark of brilliance and a chance event. And on the other hand, one might have put all the right things in place but might not be able to produce desired results. So, a leader has to be balanced in his approach, reward superior results and at the same time, recognize outstanding efforts.
Performance management has to be aimed at long-term success of an organization. Hence, it is like producing music – the right notes have to be struck at the right time in the right way!
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