The Best Time to Implement a New Performance Management Program was 20 Years Ago. The Next Best Time is Today.

Beach vacations, summer tans, hamburgers on the grill. Our favorite parts of summer and things I’m not ready yet to give up. But as Labor Day comes and goes, kids are back in school, and employee summer vacations wrap up, our attention turns to those projects still sitting on our desks. Projects with looming deadlines and budgets due soon so we can usher in our organizational (and maybe personal) initiatives for the next year.


When speaking with Human Resource Professionals this time of year we hear the following narrative far too often: “This manual process is really getting old, for me and everyone else, and I just can’t face another performance review cycle with it.” In the age of technology and lean processes, I’m still baffled at how many organizations are still doing things the hard way.


But I get it. Because I’m human too and work with other humans. Change is hard, especially when it comes to changing the way people manage people. 


And if you don’t get this, you’re in for a rude awakening. If you think you can swap out your current performance review or evaluation process for a new one in short order without any thought to proper training or implementation, I promise you’ll hear and experience the negative effects of doing so.


I’m sad to hear that so few young workers know about the book Who Moved My Cheese, because it’s an excellent story that explains the resistance to change and our sense of loss when experiencing it. 


But does the challenge of change warrant our delay in implementing a new process that could save our organization thousands of dollars and potentially increase productivity by as much as 225%?


Of course not, but I see this shocking choice made every day.


Stephen Covey perfectly summarized the battle between the important vs. the urgent. Not only is change a factor in our delay, so also is the busyness of our lives. 


But just like making a change in your personal habits, the best time to implement a new performance management program was twenty years ago. The next best time is now.


Why? Because your people need time to process, to adjust, and yes, to complain. And then to give it a try again and experience the positive effects that will eventually emerge.


That’s where Performance Culture is different. We’ve been at the people and leadership game for a while and that’s why we’ve helped hundreds of organizations navigate this sensitive change with programs like our Leadership Alignment Workshop


One of the key elements in a performance management program is manager training.


Recent research reveals that only 27% of HR professionals say a majority of managers in their organization are skilled at performance management. This means that many of your managers will need time to learn a new system and adjust to the possible new people leadership competencies they are now accountable for.


Your employees need time to test the waters; to see if this is something that will really “stick” at your organization and give them a real chance to provide their feedback safely.


Your leadership needs time to buy into this new concept, to be trained themselves on how to lead the way by meeting more frequently with their direct reports and intentionally documenting their own coaching sessions.


When it comes to change, there is a portion of your employees that are just not going to be won over, no matter what you do. Then there are those who are game for anything and are your change agents. 


However, the majority fall somewhere in the middle and while they’re not your cheerleaders on the sidelines painting your organization’s colors on their bodies, they’re willing to try a new process or system IF it’s easy.


And an easy system WILL seem hard if it’s rolled out without proper training and communication. 


YOU know your organization’s needs the best; a performance management system is simply a tool to help you accomplish this. But often our fearless HR Professionals lack the time and sometimes expertise to make a transition of this magnitude.


That’s why you should partner with experts like our Onboarding Consultants. We’ll help you pull off that new program by your project deadline, with more smiles and fewer complaints than if you go at it alone.


We recently conducted a webinar for titled, Change the Narrative of Performance Management from “I have to” to “I want to”, where we break down the four key stakeholders in an organization and how you address the fears and wants of each when it comes to implementing a new performance management program. This is a great resource for HR professionals to help navigate them through the complexities involved in tackling new initiatives.


We have the expertise to guide you through this change, but YOU have the ability to start the project and help it across the finish line. And you need time to do this.


Many of you know this, which is why mid Q3 through the end of November is the busiest time of year for us. You’re starting your research, gathering your committees to review, and getting budget approvals for next year. This takes time, and if you want to capitalize on the momentum a new year brings, you better act now. 


The size of your organization as well as the change management “elasticity” within your organization determines when and how fast you should purchase and start implementing a new system. With that said, ideally you’ll want to purchase and gain access to your account before the end of the year and start working with your Onboarding Consultant at least 2 months out from your “go live” date.


For US based organizations, when you have Thanksgiving and Christmas in there, you may want to give yourself more time.  Usually that window after open enrollment and before the end of the year is the best time for HR professionals to get trained themselves in a new system, plus schedule staff trainings. Your Onboarding Consultant will make this process so much easier than you would expect.  She or he will create a timeline for you based on your desires and help you reach each goal in time.


While all your stakeholders need time, they need the benefits of a healthy, engaged workforce more. And the longer you wait to start this process, the more potential you have for losing your best employees to your competition.


Healthy people are attracted to healthy organizations. Healthy people will also leave an unhealthy organization. Unhealthy people will thrive in an unhealthy organization. It’s what they’re most comfortable with. – Andy Stanley


The start of a new year brings with it new hope, and most notably, the willingness and acceptance of new organizational changes. 


2020 is a big year for us all. It sounds big, will be big, and will hold a lot of promise and hope for many. Let’s jump on this bandwagon and finally do something about these projects and dreams we’ve wanted to fulfill. Sure there will be some work involved. And maybe some frustrations. But nothing worth having comes easy, and the fruits of your labor will be sweet and worth it at the end.


If you are ready to start your journey to developing a healthy performance culture, then contact us today. Our team of experts will help guide you every step of the way from ideation to implementation.



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