Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Painless Performance

Painless Performance Management – Myth or Reality – YOU decide

Ok, with an intro like that even the cynics in the crowd have to be at least a little intrigued, right?  Well, it can be true if you are willing to make the investments necessary.  I caveat here – painless does not equate to easy.

Performance Management has gotten a bad rap in the business world – kind of like the way all Sharks take the heat for the misdeeds of a few ill-advised and ill-fated sharks who choose to snack from the beachfront buffet in August – it’s got the grain of truth to it, but under objective review, it is far less worrisome than it’s rumored to be.

Performance Management should be a welcome part of our career cycle, but too many of us view the process with fear.  Whether giving or receiving – we dread it at some level.  Maybe it’s post-traumatic stress from mistreatment at the hands of  a bad boss, maybe it’s dread of the emotions that surface at the time…. Whatever the reason – it can be debilitating and that makes us not do it.  That’s the start of a cycle of bad habits.

Let’s break it down into simple little steps you can start doing today

Step 1 – Talk to your people!  Not just idyll water cooler chats, but meaningful conversations about them.  Who they are, what they want out of life, what’s important to them.
Step 2 – Discuss their goals and progress against them openly and often.  Ask not just how much progress they are making, but why.  Do they have the information, resources, etc.. to get the job done?  Find out how they can leverage this experience to prepare them for the next assignment or promotion.
Step 3 –  Give them fair, candid feedback on their progress and results.  Do this often.  Congratulate them on their successes – make a big fuss about their big wins.  Counsel them on the things they need to improve on with a focus on making them a success – it’s not about what they did wrong, it’s about helping them do it better next time.  Make them understand that you want them to succeed (which had better be true)

Yes, I know…. Sounds simple and not realistic in this light, right… but try to do it and you’ll see why I said “painless”,  not “easy”.  If it was easy, the company could hire a chimp to do it and you’d be on the street….and that is where the “painless” part of our story ends.

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