How do we make Performance Management less scary?

How do we make Performance Management less scary?

April 10, 2024

When we hear the term ‘Performance Management’ our minds usually go to the process of addressing an employee’s under-performance.  This is a product of hearing “I’m putting my employee on performance management” when we are about to embark on an under-performance process.  Using the term performance management in this way does all of us a disservice because it turns performance management (the intended definition is providing clarity, direction, support, feedback, evaluation and encouragement of ongoing performance), into something scary.  The flow on effect is managers become less inclined to set performance targets for their employees which then provides more confusion and angst between employees and managers when evaluating performance, which further entrenches disenchantment with performance management. Oh, the tangled webs we weave.

Performance shouldn’t be a dirty word, but it does scare some of us who worry about failure.  “What happens if I put myself out there and I don’t measure up?” Then if we add management to performance, we can conjure up thoughts of someone micro-managing our performance.  “Hey, I’m feeling anxious about my performance and you’re breathing down my neck.  That doesn’t help”.

In sport there seems to be greater enthusiasm for performance.  Athletes seem more eager than the average worker to give it everything to achieve success.  Does the average athlete love what they do more than the average worker? Is the prize more valued? There would not be too many teams who would shed a tear knowing they just made their revenue target.

If we assume that there will in most workplaces be a requirement to perform, then the reality is that we need to think how we can create enthusiasm for performance and performance management.

Here are my thoughts, let me know what you think :

These ideas are not a silver bullet solution that will suddenly change people’s perspective about performance and performance management but with time they could make them more palatable and importantly garner more genuine connection between you and your employees.

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