Performance Management Challenges – Top 5 Questions

Performance management challenges blog

Performance Management Challenges

After hundreds of conversations with people across the globe searching for a performance management solution, I’ve noticed there are several frequently asked questions. In this post, I will address five of the most popular questions.
1.  Do my leaders know what they really want?
Human Resources has been tasked with finding a better solution to the cumbersome performance review process that everyone at your organization hates…but leadership doesn’t know what they really want.  What are the “deal breakers” when it comes to a performance management solution?  Are they more interested in a slick user interface to update their paper/manual process than in the real purpose of a performance review?  How ready is your organization to implement a new solution?  What will success look like?  My answer here is for leadership to spend time determining the answers to some of these questions before they send their fired up HR manager off to hunt and gather, only to be dejected on all their offerings or have the project scrapped altogether.  Reference our Readiness Survey here for probing questions that will save you valuable time when researching a performance management solution.
2.  What if our managers aren’t great?
This is a concern I often hear when explaining how critical the manager-employee relationship is to true performance management.  Digging deeper it’s revealed many of the organization’s managers have been promoted as such based on their apparent aptitude for performing the job function, or better yet, purely seniority.  However, they have never been trained about how to be a real manager, a developer of people.  There are countless trainings on leadership because it is a learned skill that can be honed and developed.  Invest in your managers, and hold them accountable for raising up leaders below them, not just for ensuring everyone showed up to work today.
3.  How do we create measurable goals?
Everyone loves goals…or loves to hate them.  Goals are vital to an organization’s health since the lack of them – or lack of paying attention to them – can mean its undoing.  Many organizations do not have clearly defined goals.  Often this is because they do not have a clear mission, vision, and core values that is shared by all.  Confused yet?  It’s okay if you are, we spend an entire day’s workshop helping organizations form and work through this cascading connection:
Goals should then be further broken down by key performance metrics (which should follow the S.M.A.R.T. format), and workplace behaviors that support your Core Values.  Reference our Key Performance Indicator and Workplace Behavior Library for examples to get you started.
4.  What if our organizational structure inhibits “real” performance management?
What do I mean by this?  Ratios, people.  One manager cannot possibly truly develop 35 direct reports.  This is an actual ratio I learned about last week when speaking with a potential client.  Even if you want to call them “Team Leads” instead of managers, more leaders need to be raised up in order to get this ratio in line.   How can one person have authentic conversations, guiding both performance and behaviors with thirty-five people?  Maybe if you only talk to them once a year, but even then, how meaningful will this conversation be?  How likely is that direct report to feel valued, clearly understand expectations, and truly know their path to development?  Consider a cup of water as one manager.  She only has enough room for 8 ounces of water.  She has to pour herself out to her direct reports, trying to fill their cups as a way to develop them and help them meet their goals.  How much water is each cup going to contain if she has to split that evenly between 35 cups?  Clearly very little.  Now if she instead pours into just 5 cups, they receive so much more, and even “grow” their own water levels because of it.  Now they each have more to share with their direct reports beneath them, maybe there are 10 of them…and the design goes on.  I’m not suggesting a set ratio here – every organization is different – but human capital certainly has its limitations and we would be well served to remember this.
5.  What if we don’t have manager “buy-in.” 
The traditional performance appraisal has left so many scarred with PTSD, that they have done away with them altogether.  Now, these organizations are realizing there has to be some level of measurement and conversation around what’s expected and how leadership can help, but managers don’t buy there’s any solution that will work.  I offer a simple solution that agreeably won’t fix every instance of this, but does help many:  let them be a part of the creation process.  How much more do my kids want to work on a project or complete a task when I ask them their opinion about it?  They are brought into the making of it, so now they have ownership of it.  Your managers are no different.  The Performance Culture System is designed to allow your managers access to create draft performance review templates for their direct reports, even creating their key metrics and behaviors to be measured.  This now becomes a collaborative event with the manager and his or her supervisor.  The supervisor is in effect saying, “I trust you, and I trust that you have learned a thing or two about your people and about managing this department.  I’m interested to see what you think should be the focus, and we’ll collaborate together on the finished product” (coaching moment).  Now that manager has ownership of the performance review and will be much more inclined to become your advocate in the field, creating that vital alignment between leadership and employees.
There are more, even some very unique, “frequently asked problems” when it comes to implementing a performance management software, but hopefully, this discussion triggers your own discovery and sets you on the right path. 

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