How to master performance management

Performance management may well be the single biggest change to business practices in the last 20 years. There’s a wealth of books, frameworks, theories, academic scholarships and practices currently in circulation, but in the spirit of the work it’s important to know that your performance management is, well, performing.

A recent review of the current literature by leading Australian academics, for the Australian Public Service Performance Framework, offers some powerful insights. An effective system requires a solid framework, workable processes, consistency of implementation and engagement at all levels of the business from the board directors to the kitchen hands. It must ensure employees feel supported and empowered by the process, as opposed to oppressed. Easily said, but not so easily done.

If you have time, the actual report is a great read. No time? Here are five factors that create a solid performance management framework:

1.    Strategic integration

Performance management that is driven purely by industrial relations concerns, without being aligned with business goals and strategies, is likely to cause confusion and distress among employees who end up feeling they are serving two masters. The framework needs to be aligned across all four levels of governance, organisational, group and individuals.

2.    Evidence based and adaptable

An effective performance framework needs to draw from hard data, as well as be able to respond to that data quickly in order to adapt to market demands. This means real-time awareness of key performance metrics and the ability to renegotiate goals and strategies at all levels.

3.    Pragmatic

There’s no point having a luxury-liner performance framework on a fishing trawler. Your framework needs to be created in alignment with the capabilities of the business, employees and resources to avoid setting unachievable goals and creating onerous red tape and unnecessary compliance procedures.

4.    Mutuality

A performance framework without employee ‘buy in’ is like a fine racehorse without a rider – it’s going nowhere fast. To achieve true engagement the system needs to be mutually advantageous, serving the productivity, quality and safety requirements of the business as well as the developmental needs of the staff. Employees need to feel that their KPIs, review processes, reporting requirements and compliance procedures are also serving their own interests in contributing to their advancement and development.

5.    Consistency

The review found that the biggest complaint among staff was inconsistent application of the performance framework by management. It’s hard to play the game well if the goals keep moving or the value of the goal keeps changing, particularly if it’s caused by the eccentricities of individual managers. Employees need to be able to rely on good performance meriting good rewards, as well as consistent expectations.

An effective performance management framework is a living organism that needs to be ready and able to adapt to market changes, as well as internal and external feedback, while delivering transparent and reasonable expectations, goals and strategies. Do you have a proper framework in place?

Share This Page