The performance management revolution will not be televised


It is not every day that I get excited about performance management.

Breaking the ice in Wiltshire, Photo by Tim Goodwin Photography

Breaking the ice in Wiltshire, Photo by Tim Goodwin Photography

Though after years of eye rolling and apathy at the mere mention of the word appraisal, the times they are a changin’…

Performance management is a hot topic for clients I’m currently working with, and this time it’s different. For years many in the HR world suspected the traditional approach was broken. No matter how much organisations developed leaders to coach and entrust their people, the old heavy force of hierarchy and top down feedback would return with each rating discussion.

In search of a solution companies constantly tweaked what was already a flawed process. Phrases like ‘two-way conversation’ or ‘agreeing expectations’ were introduced, fancy IT systems were implemented, and rating scales were endlessly reengineered.  What this failed to recognise was app technology, systems thinking and social media had forever altered the workplace.

We now work interdependently across geographies, teams are more self-directing and our goals constantly change in response to customer needs and innovation. So it’s no good to just use past performance to measure how a person contributes. Feedback needs to be real time and reflect our social network. Development needs to be future focussed and separated from compensation discussions that neuroscience suggests invoke a flight or fight response.

Facebook, Google, Adobe, Motorola, Microsoft and Juniper are tech companies leading the way. The movement is often linked to an agile way of working yet the promise is more than just project management.

We now have a genuine opportunity to holistically assess and reward a person’s worth. Rather than just calibrating on past performance we can incorporate factors such as people potential, collective achievement, worth in the labour market and network performance.

I’m excited because the performance management revolution holds the promise of shifting the focus in organisations from competitive individualism to collective worth and sustainable development.

Get in contact if you want to get your business excited too…