Is the technology of Performance Management measuring what needs to be measured, managed and implemented?
When people talk about the term ‘performance management’, what are they actually talking about? What are they trying to measure? Are they looking at the right ingredients?
My premise is this: How can you measure Performance Management if you are not certain either you or your employees, are in the job, or business role, that is right for them?
‘Performance Management’ is a technology ‘for managing both behaviour and results’. The term was first coined by Dr Aubry Daniels circa 1970. Since then, a whole new area of potential research, surveys and implementation strategies have evolved, in order to delve into the behaviours of employees, and match results with expected outcomes within the systems and structures of organisations.
Other definitions of ‘performance management’ include: “activities which ensure that goals are consistently being met in an effective and efficient manner.” It can also be a combination of aligning resources, systems and employers to strategic objectives. It can focus on different aspects of: the actual organisation, a specific department, the employees, or the processes that build or create the product or services. It also involves: measuring progress, giving feedback, coaching for improved performance, and rewarding achievement. It appears to be a combination of a carrot or stick approach. What if the carrot or the stick methods don’t work? Is it necessary to use manipulation techniques to motivate employees to perform better?
My observation of the literature on ‘performance management’ is that when one is trying to manage performance, managers start with what they’ve got: the systems, the procedures, the employees, goals, objectives, and various structures. They then try to make the employees ‘fit’ into these structures. My concern is: how can you measure Performance Management, if you are not certain either you, or your employees, are in the job, or business role that is right for them?
Erica Olsen states that “Many businesses, even those with well-made plans, fail to implement their strategy. Their problem lies in ineffectively managing their employees once their plan is in place.
You can hear the frustration here. It seems like many of these exercises in performance management could well be a waste of time and resources, because the underlying, fundamental issues, are not being addressed, and hence, any implementation of outcomes can have no real meaning or benefit. Why do employees’ behaviours need to be constantly ‘manipulated’ to perform and achieve results?
No one seems to have questioned the assumption that businesses have the ‘right’ employees in the ‘right’ jobs before undertaking a performance management strategy. This non- questioning is inherent in all of the research literature and resultant definitions. Because of this the strategists have no other option but to ‘manipulate’ employees via goal setting, rewards, bonuses, further training and other advancement or inducement techniques, in order to achieve their stated goals or objectives.
It is my contention that, in order to instigate performance management techniques, employers might try ‘retesting’ employees for: Life Path fit, innate skills and abilities and matching and aligning highest values with those of the organisation’s owners. Now that’s a thought!
To me, the issue is a redefinition of performance management, a pre-performance management strategy. We do not, in fact, want to ‘manage’ anything. We want to prepare the organisation before any outcomes’ strategies are implemented. We want to get the best out of the people we have, and if we do not have them, then we need move employees to more suitable roles, or remove them entirely, so that both the organisation and the employee can reach their potential.
The ‘new’ performance management strategy revolves around the ‘right fit’ job for each employee. Should you really be here doing what you are doing? Should you be doing a different aspect of the job? Or are you doing too many tasks that cross too many areas in order to be efficient in any part of the job, or all of the job?
Employers contribute to having the wrong person in the wrong job because when they write advertisements for job descriptions, they, unknowingly, ask for too much from one person in one job specification. They ask the potential employee to be able to do a whole lot of tasks that are not natural to their specific innate skills and abilities.
When employers come to understand this ‘new’ model of pre-performance management strategies, they will start to have ‘happier’ employees. They will no longer have to try to ‘manipulate’ them with performance bonuses, rewards, and the like. The employee will be a natural fit and will be a ‘happier’ employee, and hence successful in the specific role. They will automatically want to be involved in the process of maximising their performance, as they will be in the ‘right’ Life Path, and hence will be able to contribute accordingly.