Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Performance Conundrum-Take Charge

As we begin a new year the articles and forum questions on performance at work begin to trickle through the various social streams yet most of these simply restate the same information over and over again. Yesterday I read an article that proposed to be offering a different perspective by giving advice to the employee as to how to prepare for a performance review. There were some good points offered, but it wasn’t new and simply reflected the advice often offered to managers on how to conduct performance reviews.

A performance review is a lagging indicator and at best it simply summarizes what was discussed throughout the year between the manager and the employee. There seems to be quite a bit of agreement that many people really don’t like performance reviews because they are poorly done and do not improve effectiveness. Which suggests it is time to ditch the idea of performance reviews as being anything more than a document that simply records a years worth of discussion. It is possible that ongoing performance discussions will only take place if you (the employee)-yes you-take charge. It is your career after all.

If your organization uses outdated and ineffective performance reviews then take charge of your own performance management.

Why wait for the year-end performance review to find out what your manager is thinking? Initiate ongoing conversations regarding your work throughout the year and journal those chats soon after so you can see patterns/trends in what you are hearing.

This is value added for a few reasons:

1) You are telling your manager you are committed to doing a good job and are looking for ways to improve. You also want to receive feedback on what you are doing well that you want to keep doing.

2) There will be less chance of surprises at the year end wrap review.

3) Course corrections in real time are far more effective; hearing in January that you have been doing "X" wrong all last year is not helpful and it will create new problems. Learning at your performance review meeting that if you "had only done Y" you would be in line for the promotion you have your eye on won't get you where you want to go either.

4) You will not waste time and energy dealing with unhappy news that is received too late and thus you will be able to focus on being innovative and on picking up new skills before they become skills that might derail you.And you will be able to correct erroneous assumptions about your work immediately.

As mentioned in my last post employee engagement is a hot topic these days and engagement demands ongoing communication that builds trust, openness and clarity. If your manager isn’t creating this type of culture then it is up to you to get started. It is your career, which is something that you spend a lot of time working on so it makes sense to initiate the communication you want to see in the organization you work for. Performance management may be your managers job but it is your responsibility and you have the biggest stake in how well you do.

One last thought-as the shift to social business escalates your participation and ability to initiate conversations will be a very valuable skill-your performance on the job is a good place to start developing this skill.

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