You must have a clear and practical definition of performance management if you want to purposefully manage the performance of your direct reports in order to lead them to peak performance.
We do not define anything here in terms of theory – we define everything here according to the practical needs of the manager who must deliver results through her direct reports.
Before we ask ourselves what is performance management, let’s define the meaning of “performance.”
When you are looking at performance, it is necessary to focus on both, on behavior and on results:And if you only focus on results, you won’t notice if your employees don’t behave ethically
Remember this simple formula – it’s very easy to recall it and it is extremely useful.
The definition of performance management then, is the systematic and periodic assessment of your direct report’s behaviors and results.
Now, despite the fact that this definition of performance management is accurate and objective, it is useless.
This definition by itself won’t help you get very far in managing the performance of your employees.
Together with this definition of performance management, you also need to know what performance management is for.
Performance Management Goals
What is performance management for? In other words, what are the goals of performance management?
Performance management has two goals:
The first goal is to create competency in your people – competency refers to the adequate skills your direct reports need in order to achieve desired performance.
The second goal is to create growth in your employees – growth refers to the development of skills of your direct reports in order to exceed desired performance and be able to move to increasingly difficult assignments.
Translation number one: Performance management means that your job as the boss is two-fold:
First, it is to help your direct reports be able to do current tasks; and second, it is to help them grow professionally.
The more you do this well, your team will become gradually stronger, and your team will deliver better results.
Translation number two: As the manager that you are, doing performance management well will help you grow as a leader tremendously (to lead – among other tasks – is to grow people).
Since you get paid to deliver results, from your own perspective and from the organization you work for perspective, performance management is not an option.
Translation number three: Performance management is an ongoing process.
Performance management is not a once in a while one-time event – like performance appraisal for example – if it were, it would be impossible to achieve your two performance management goals.
By keeping these two elements (definition of performance and the two performance management goals) in your definition of performance management, you will maintain objectivity and effectiveness in your performance management endeavors, and consequently, you will be able to boost the performance of your direct reports.
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