Fixing Performance Management: Embracing Uncertainty

“If there's one thing that's certain in business, it's uncertainty” 

----Stephen Covey

Is that ever true now. No one really has a clue about what future work environments will look like. Unfortunately, we are navigating this turbulent environment by figuring it out as we go. These new circumstances require the need to embrace uncertainty. 

The future of work will be very different depending upon the industry, location, safety, economics, politics and other variables. But we know for certain, that in turbulent times, the clearer you can make work, the better the outcomes for individuals, teams and the organization.

As we adjust to whatever the new normal will be, if there will be one, we need to not lose sight of getting the work done while developing our associates. 

Thus, it’s vitally important we embrace uncertainty. And prepare to take advantage of it. Because most of your competitors are paralyzed.

It’s time to throw out your traditional performance management process and adopt an agile goal and feedback process that can adapt as future circumstances dictate. 

According to Gallup only 14% of employees strongly agree their performance process inspires them to improve. Traditional performance reviews and approaches to feedback are often so bad that they actually make performance worse about 1/3 of the time. In fact, nearly half of employees say they receive feedback from their manager a few times a year or less.

We know that the traditional performance process can hurt people and the companies for whom they work. These artifacts of a bygone era place a premium on scores and conformity to subjective behavioral standards. The dreaded annual performance review has become something employees and managers hate.

Implemented in companies that must navigate change at a rapid velocity (now all of us), these processes are obstacles to agility and alignment.   

    “Uncertainty is not an indication of poor leadership; it underscores the need for leadership.”                                                                                                         ---Andy Stanley

Has the landscape changed so quickly that your 12-month plan won’t make it past the first eight weeks? Maybe the direction isn’t clear. Is management in flux? Are you downsizing? Does everyone in your organization understand their role and its impact on the overall mission? What policies and procedures are changing, and are they effectively being implemented? 

How is your organization managing change?

Today, managers need to have conversations (ok via zoom) often with their teams that concentrate on the work. There needs to be clarity around goals and honest feedback focused on goal attainment. In the end, employees want to be judged by achievement, not charisma (except salespeople). 

As you effectively communicate throughout the year, there shouldn’t be any surprises at the end of the year. Those frequent conversations should focus on:

  • What is the status of goals?
  • Where do we need to improve?
  • What are the roadblocks to success?
  • How can I help?

So, embrace uncertainty, the new normal will be in flux. Focus on the core mission. Adopt agility. Improve feedback between leaders and their teams. Increase clarity of mission. Make sure everyone understands their part in getting there. And above all, keep it simple.

I love a spirited discussion, so let me know your thoughts. 

There will be more to come, next week I’ll be talking about navigating goal management. 

Stay safe.

About Mighty You

Mighty You is an employee goals and feedback SaaS company founded by Gene Pease along with a team of world-class data scientists and engineers. Mr. Pease is a pioneer in the field of people analytics and performance, having sold his most recent workforce analytics company, Vestrics, to Ultimate Software in 2016.

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