You must be wondering why I used the phrase – performance management hack – instead of a more sophisticated, professional term for the title of the blog. Since we are discussing performance management here then it makes more sense to use more refined terms to sound more convincing, right? As much as I’d like to agree with this, I would say there’s a better way to look at it because I have another picture to share with you.
Here’s how it begins.
Performance management is like a rule – easy to dictate but difficult to follow. However, if we at least try and relate the basics of management with how we live and work each day, things get a lot easier and less cumbersome. It’s good in theory but great in reality when you actually realise how much fun it can be.
These 9 everyday learnings will help you get started with 2019 so that performance management follows to appease for the rest of the year.
Define work with clear and attainable expectations
This is induced with a chain of connected activities about which we all know and talk about but end up playing the deleterious blame-game when things go wrong. It starts right from the time when you interview the candidate. Well of course you don’t get to know everything but there’s a lot you can tell in the first meeting. So, make the most of this opportunity by asking what the candidate is looking for rather than imposing your own expectations.
Following this, verify if the candidate is suitable for the responsibility or not. Introduce the candidate with relevant case scenarios and ask them how they would deal with a situation or tackle a problem.
Once done, set achievable expectations right at the beginning. Most organisations already have a pre-set document that explains the KRAs and KPIs so that the candidate and the organisation are on the same page. Otherwise at a later stage there is a substantial mismatch in expectations and outcome with nobody there to fix the situation.
Yes, I’ll say it again. We all know about it and talk about it but before we enter 2019, let’s ensure that we remind ourselves to work on it for real for a constructive start.
Avoid setting rules because no one likes them anymore
Wait, I’ll rephrase it. Avoid setting rules because most of us end up breaking them anyway. Specially when you work with millennials, who are either fresh out of college or in the early stages of their career. Rules may have worked really well for some organisations but not all of them solve the same problem in the society, do they? There might be a case where rules start building walls within the corporate without showing any prior visible signs. In the end, it only affects the team performance and leads to intricate problems that are difficult to deal with.
Breaking rules is not a shortcoming that we are trying to avoid or overcome. It’s a new age development that empowered companies like Apple, Google, Amazon, and others in their nascent stage to grow with a unique approach. They flourished at a time when ‘break the rules’ was popular in each and every industry and we have been inseparable from this phrase till date.
Offer perks before demanding favours or expecting ad-hocs
I am currently reading this book that talks about the psychology behind persuasion. The book has nearly 500 pages that talks about the same thing, which is persuasion, but the number and variety of examples it explains are countless.
In one of the experiments, a person was showing some paintings to a customer in an exhibition. Case one, the person went out for a while and brought back 2 bottles of coca cola, one for himself and one for the customer. Case two, the person goes out but brings back only 1 coca cola for himself. Next, the person asks the customer a favour to buy some of the unsold games tickets from him.
Case one – 93% customers bought more tickets from him than he expected.
Case two – Less than 40% customers bought the tickets.
Now you know what I am talking about. If you expect a team member to go out of the way and get a particular job done, they would (obviously) expect something in return. It is definitely not necessary but encouragement is key in performance management. In fact, returning a favour has been a part of an age old human culture and it fits perfectly well in corporates too.
Create a culture that’s disciplined enough to be fun
No, I am not talking about the strictness and severity we experienced back in school. When I say discipline, I mean having a sense of belongingness, responsibility and mutual respect for each other’s ideas, work and space. Without this, I don’t think it’s even possible to think about managing a team.
It’s absolutely okay to take breaks, go on a vacation, take some time off and resume work after a sabbatical but it’s definitely not okay to be at work and not perform. Therefore, it is undoubtedly necessary to create an open, flexible culture that promotes your team to function rather than bringing them down.
A mistake is like your ex, get over them and move on
I personally like this one and, of course, the reasons are manifold. When it’s time for a manager to review the team performance, there are certain things they must keep in mind before they move forward. In fact, we have discussed these 2 factors in our previous Essential Series blogs-
- If it was a team error, talk about the entire team rather than a single person
- Take lessons from things that went wrong and don’t mourn them
Long story short – We all make mistakes but economically it would be a wise decision to simply take learnings, get over it and move on to a new, better project. In fact, Economics has taught us Frugal Innovation. We cut down costs and let go of complexities to produce goods for certain overlooked markets for greater profits.
So, how do you pick your top performer? Different managers and team leads give different answers, like someone who is-
- Available on-call 24X7
- An all-rounder
- Great thinker and innovator
- Confident speaker
- Great at sales pitch and business development
Yes, a top performer can be anybody but the ideal person would be a great problem solver. He or she should be the go-to person when things go wrong. When you stick to this principle, performance reviews and feedback session would become easy while managing the team’s performance.
Train your brain to discard unconscious bias
How do you ensure that you have a fair performance management system in your organisation? Even if you come up with a fair plan, how would you decide whether it is fair for everyone in your team?
For this, you have to constantly remind yourself that you cannot favour a particular team member or act against him/her. Moreover, you cannot be biased towards a particular project. Or not want to invest time and resources on another project because you personally aren’t comfortable with it.
The reason why I am emphasising on this point is because it does get difficult at times. However, conducting a fair performance review and feedback session is a manager’s responsibility. It directly affects the data and the big numbers for the company.
Further to the previous point – it’s not always about the money
Money is a highly important yet fungible resource. Most millennials are not even concerned about the CTC or the numbers that are credited into their salary accounts. The ones who are, they end up in MBA colleges anyway. All a millennial or a true performer is looking for today is opportunity and motivation. I mean, of course, money is a necessity to pay bills and party but is that all performers are looking for? I don’t think so..
Reach out because everyone/everything won’t come to you
One of the many tasks of a manager is to be connected with their team members. And also, stay updated with their daily tasks and long-term projects that they are working on. Staying up-to-date with your team’s tasks helps great deal when you have to provide scores, ratings and feedback every quarter or whenever you conduct performance reviews. In fact, you best remember the critical nuances at the time of making an observation. Irrespective how much you would want to recollect it all later, you might remember hardly 40% of it.
Always reach out, stay connected, ask for updates and participate with your team as much as possible. You may be the leader who stands out but if you want your team to stand you will have to be a part of it.
Lastly, don’t forget to talk
Finally, we talk about the ‘talk’. As long as we have a company to run, sales to make and targets to meet, there is no alternative to having a conversation. Performance management starts and ends with this and the rest is upon the personal jurisdiction of the manager. But as I said, don’t forget to talk..
I will break it all down in simple words. It’s not about our morals, principles or values with which we have been brought up. It’s also not about the left-wing vs right-wing philosophy where people divide and vote for the best. Or the most ideal management approach because there isn’t one. There can never be. Therefore, it’s all about working with a team in which the members are at least comfortable discussing tasks. Even if they may not like each other all the time. Being a manager, it is your responsibility to make sure that you get it done.
But don’t feel alone. There are many others just like you who have a lot of questions and concerns about performance management. That’s why peopleHum has specially been created and designed to make things easier for managers, HRs and organisations. peopleHum has accumulated the most useful management tools for you to-
- Setup timely meetings
- Share organised reminders
- Set goals to prioritise tasks
- Schedule feedback sessions
- Assign durables with timelines
- Review performance scores..
.. and I really wish I could continue with the list. But there are many other features that we can discuss depending upon what your organisation is looking for. Reach out anytime for more details. The peopleHum team is always excited to talk. All the best for 2019!