Performance management: does it make you flinch?

March 9, 2020 Sima Patel

Ever wondered why most people flinch when a manager says they need to review your performance?

Performance Management often has negative connotations. When I work with managers on performance management issues, they are more than likely to be focussed on individuals that are not performing or driving results.

To take this notion even further, when I am training managers I often ask them what they think when they hear the term ‘Performance Management’ and, not surprisingly, I always receive the same response, “Performance management is about underperformance”. Yet it’s so much more than that.

On hearing this time and time again, I feel that perceptions need to change!

What if I said that you could reframe and reposition how Performance Management is perceived by simply changing the language we use and making managing performance a positive approach to people management?

Let’s face it. We all want to be recognised and supported at work so that we can perform at our best but excluding star performers and only focussing those that are underperforming can be damaging.

How can we do this?

You often hear managers say, “Why do I have to complete the performance tasks? I don’t have the time, I just need the results!”

Part of a manager’s role is to support their employees with development, making it as easy for them as possible. By enabling managers to use all the management tools that are readily available to them, they can start to understand their employee’s strengths and development areas better.

It’s through the performance tasks that you really start to understand the capabilities, drivers and development areas of your people. By understanding the meaning behind employee’s tasks, managers can start to really see the value behind what they are doing.

I came across this quote – “If I accept you as you are, I will make you worse; however if I treat you as though you are what you are capable of becoming, I help you become that.” – Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

When I saw this quote, I thought to myself how lucky I have been to have had managers that have recognised my capabilities and supported me to grow, learn and be the best I can be. Without these managers, I would not have walked the career path that I have. That said, I have also had managers who just didn’t get it at all!

I believe a manager’s role is all about making sure their people have the capabilities to perform.

Can you think back to a time when you had a great manager who recognised your capabilities, supported you and stretched you to grow and perform at your best? How did that make you feel? Awesome, right?

If you’re a people manager, pay attention to the needs of your people and start to change the term ‘Performance Management’ so that it is positive. Focus on creating a culture that drives feedback and learning because this will pay huge dividends to results. After all, that’s what it’s all about, right? A manager’s success is dependent on having a strong and effective team that will drive results!

Here’s some quick tips to get you started:

  • Have regular check-ins 
  • Provide clarity around expectations
  • Make sure you have agreed goals that are SMART
  • Discuss what development your employee needs and create a plan so that it meets the needs of the individual. For example, including nanolearning modules for your digital natives!
  • Give feedback based on behaviour and facts. Remember, feedback is a gift!
  • Use badging to recognise good work

"Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others." - Jack Welch

About the Author

Sima Patel

Sima Patel joined Cornerstone in 2019 as the Learning and Development partner for EMEA. Prior to joining Cornerstone Sima held positions in a variety of global organisations. where she has had full responsibility to shape and lead the talent, learning and development function. Sima is a result focussed, experienced professional who works with managers and leaders enabling them to drive performance through their teams. Performance management, building cohesive teams, Leadership and Management development is where it all starts and Sima believes as Learning professionals we have a big role to play starting with creating a learning and feedback culture.

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