How should I approach Performance Management/Conversations?

We are looking at revamping our performance management approach - What are you folks doing?

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I feel ya…there are so many performance frameworks and tools out there and it’s so tough to know how to evaluate and where to begin. The biggest thing we’ve tried to do at our company is to ensure that we approach performance management and conversations with a eye towards individual development, rather than just evaluation. I personally have found this blog by a people scientist at Culture Amp really valuable for how I guide leaders in our company to approach there 1x1s:

This is a big question! Broadly speaking, the biggest potential issue with Performance Management (PM) is when your system fails to “break apart” the two halves of PM:

  1. Performance Appraisal - How well an employee executes their role-related expectations. It also includes any other extra-role behaviors that support the strategic objectives of the organization. Measuring and differentiating high performance from mediocre and low performance is one of the main components of an effective performance management system.

  2. Performance Development - The ways your organization equips, inspires, motivates, and enables employees to greater levels of performance through the acquisition of new (and the refinement of existing) skills, knowledge, abilities, mindsets, and key experiences. This includes the ongoing process of communication between each employee and their organization that occurs throughout the year, in support of enabling the employee to assist in accomplishing the strategic goals of the organization.

The Performance Appraisal component requires doing a few things well:

  • Having multiple raters so that one person (and their biases) doesn’t do all the appraising
  • Collecting ratings at multiple points in time (to reduce recency bias)
  • Collect ratings on multiple areas of impact (e.g., impact to team, impact to customers, impact to the organization)

I love that you mentioned conversations as part of your question because conversations are key to getting Performance Development right. To simplify, think of Performance Development as 3-5 conversations:

  1. The goal setting conversation. This is where you set priorities and explain what success looks like.
  2. The coaching conversation. This is where you coach employees on how to improve their performance.
  3. The check-in conversation. This is where you have some regular touch point to make sure that you are aligned on goals and help with hurdles.
  4. The developmental review. This is where you track progress against goals and talk about what new learnings they would like
  5. The merit increase conversation. This is what most people think of when discussing PM and it is important to disconnect this conversation from the other conversations.
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