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Struggling with Employees? Time to Check Your Performance Management

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Is your performance management system broken?

Research suggests that more than a third of business leaders describe their performance management process as a “check the box” exercise, rather than a powerful management tool to help them implement their business strategy. I’d guess that an even greater number of managers and dissatisfied employees would agree.

Too often, performance management can become a paperwork exercise completed more to meet deadlines than to yield results. This is unfortunate because performance management programs can produce harder-working, motivated employees who are more productive and efficient. And what organization doesn’t need that?

Performance management is not just a standalone system, website, or form. Granted, having a system or process to help initially get managers and employees on track can help, but if the system is not engaging or purposeful, it falls pathetically short of its potential. When you’re trying to get more physically fit, buying healthy food and gym memberships alone doesn’t do you much good. But if you employ these tools to the best of your ability, biology guarantees that you will be in better health. In the same way, performance management practices may be useless unless properly employed and acted upon.

From system to culture

The most important step to changing your performance management practices from stale to results-producing is to stop thinking of it as a system or process and instead integrate it into your culture on an ongoing basis. No matter what the formalized process looks like, it should be based on looking at organizational and departmental values and goals and developing individual employee goals that align. After goals have been created, the process must include managers and employees continuing to measure performance and adjust goals using ongoing feedback and regular one-on-one meetings.

Coaching for behavior

Another important aspect of effective performance management is that managers must coach employees toward the right behaviors, instead of merely pointing out successes and failures. Basketball coaches can’t expect significant improvement by simply telling players to “be more aggressive,” but if they give players specific behaviors to change, coaches will start to see real progress. Conversely, by telling teams they played a good game without telling players what they did well, coaches miss out on an opportunity to increase the likelihood that good behaviors will be repeated in the future. Similarly, managers can’t expect a simple “don’t do it again” or “good job” without elaboration and guidance to develop their employees in meaningful ways.

Take action

For more information about performance management, contact Carrie Cox using her information below.

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Carrie Cox, PHR, SHRM-CP
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Carrie Cox, PHR, SHRM-CP

Senior Organizational Development Consultant
Organizational Development & Family Business Services

Carrie has experience in a variety of human resource functions, including labor laws, compensation structures, employee classification, benefits administration, performance management, and human resource best practices. She has served clients in a number of industries including manufacturing, construction, banking, and not-for-profits. Carrie is a member of the national and local chapters of the Society of Human Resource Professionals (SHRM) and serves on the Wichita chapter board of directors. She is a certified practitioner for the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® and the Hay Group’s Emotional and Social Competency Inventory. Her additional certifications include Professional in Human Resources (PHR) from the Human Resource Certification Institute and SHRM-CP designated by the Society for Human Resource Management.