We believe the current process was destined for failure from the get go, it was never going to work for one simple reason, because it’s an annual or 6 monthly process. If we’re honest with ourselves, most of us would describe the performance review process with the following types of statements:
- A check the box exercise so we can say “We do performance management!”
- Everyone hates the process, even the owners hate it.
- We only do it because everyone else does it.
- I don’t know why we do it, it’s rigged anyway.
When you take a moment to think of this age old process, you quickly realise why it's not going to work. A manager sits down with their team member to discuss performance over the duration of an entire year, personally I can't remember what I was doing last month, so this is a challenge in itself.
Current systems only streamline the data entry and reporting process, they are designed to make it easy for HR to run the performance management review and deliver professional looking charts (from subjective data).
Unfortunately they don't deliver accurate and objective data on individual or team performance. In recent months I’ve been reading about many organisations recognising these issues and throwing the entire process out. At first I thought this was a great move, but then I started to think more deeply about it.
Looking at the intent of today’s performance management process, it does aim to be a positive process by facilitating an opportunity to:
- Provide feedback to team members, both positive reinforcement and areas for improvement
- Discuss accountabilities associated with the role
- Highlight expectations going forward
- Discuss ratings applied, how they may be improved and chart progress
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What if we could do performance management in a different way?
To explain this let’s take a look at the taxi industry BU (Before Uber). I get in a cab, the interior is grubby and sometimes smelly, the driver mumbles at me, I mumble at the driver, he drives me the long way around and I get out feeling ripped off. Basically, the performance of the driver, and me was pretty damn low.
Now look at the taxi industry AU. I get in the Uber with an enthusiastic greeting, the car is immaculate, it never smells and the driver greets me with a smile, a bottle of water and bowl of mints. We go the quickest route, have a deep n meaningful conversation on the way and I get out feeling great. The performance of the driver, and me was impeccable.
Why? Because we both know the proper way to behave and we are about to give each other real-time feedback about it.
This process happens for every ride and if that driver receives continually poor feedback, he’ll be called in for a discussion on how he might be able to lift his game. If I consistently receive low feedback, I might find it difficult to get a driver for future trips!
When we looked at that process it was almost everything a performance process should be, so we asked ourselves how we could apply this approach to the workplace. A successful performance management process comes from the ground up where employees own it themselves. A process that:
- Is integrated with daily activities and owned at the individual level
- Sets expectations upfront
- Delivers 2 way feedback in-the-moment