Performance Based Management
What does performance based management mean? It simply means the following:
Performance based management is when you manage your direct reports by focusing on their performance. That’s it.
But think about it though:
You are responsible for your team (made up of your employees and yourself) – you are your direct reports’ boss – you are accountable for the results your team delivers – it is your responsibility to make sure your direct reports bring about the expected results (on time, on budget, and within quality standards) – you get paid so that the team you are responsible for delivers those expected results.
And no matter what industry you work for, results are always observable, tangible, measurable, and objective.
But we human beings are subjective by definition – we have feelings, we have emotions, we interpret the world in different ways, we have different opinions about the same thing, etc.
The company you work for doesn’t care if the people you are responsible for (your direct reports) are subjective human beings. You must give results nevertheless. Period.
So keeping objectivity when it comes to delivering results is critical. At the end of the day, at the end of the month, or at the end of the quarter, you cannot walk up to your boss and tell her that you weren’t able to deliver the expected results because your employees engaged in intense office politics, got angry at each other, and as a result, they didn’t finish their work on time.
So how do you keep objectivity when it comes to managing your people? In other words, how do you do performance based management? You do that by focusing on performance. Why? Because performance is nothing more than behavior plus results.
Because this is an indispensable and key element in performance based management, I repeat: Performance is a unity composed of two elements: behavior and results – and both (behavior and results) are tangible, measurable, and objective.
To do performance based management effectively, keep in mind the following three guidelines:
1) Be objective
Erase the word “attitude” from your vocabulary – in stead; focus on “behavior.”
Why? Because attitude is subjective, it is the interpretation of a collection of several behaviors. Attitude is not a fact.
Behavior is objective; it is observable, measurable, and tangible. Behavior is a fact.
If you ask 10 of your co-workers to tell you about Mary’s attitude who frequently arrives late at work, you will get 10 different answers: she is lazy, she is irresponsible, she has problems at home, etc.
These answers are useless if you want to correct Mary’s behavior – if you told Mary that she is lazy, or irresponsible, etc., you would not keep objectivity in managing her performance, and she would probably feel that you are blaming her.
Performance based management is not about getting personal with anybody. Mary and you – her boss – are not inside that company to like or dislike each other; on the contrary, both of you are inside that company to deliver results. In other words, attitude is useless in performance based management.
But if you ask those same 10 co-workers to tell you exactly at what time Mary arrived at the office during the entire the past week, they will all give you exactly the same answer: on Monday she arrived 12 minutes late, on Tuesday she arrived 9 minutes late, on Wednesday she arrived 17 minutes late, etc.
These answers are observable, measurable, tangible, and objective. If you used these answers (read facts) to talk to Mary about her behavior, the focus of the conversation would be on her behavior, not on her as a person, and you would keep objectivity in managing her performance.
2) Be fair
To do effective performance based management, you must not have personal preferences. Remember, your focus must be on performance – no favoritisms, no discrimination, etc.
Within our team you might have high performers and slow performers, and the consequences you provide to each of them must be according to their performance. But this fact has nothing to do with personal preferences. We are talking performance here.
If you happen to make friends with one of your direct reports (a high performer or a slow performer), and as a result of that, you begin not to manage all your people according to performance (because of your personal preferences as a consequence of your friendship), you are not being fair – you are not doing performance based management – you are not being objective – you are not doing your job correctly.
Remember, this is about giving results.
Outside the office you can make friends, you can fall in love, and you can be as subjective as you wish. But inside the office your job is to deliver results with and through your direct reports – this is what you are getting paid for.
3) Be legal
Everything you do related to managing the performance of your people – or put in different words, performance based management to be performance based management – must be done within your company’s policies and within your country’s laws.
If you do, you won’t have any troubles – no matter what drastic decisions you make (e.g., dismissals).
If you don’t, you won’t be able to legally defend your performance management decisions – just so you know, the most common cause of labor lawsuits is unjustified dismissals.
To keep on learning about performance management, go back to the previous page ( or
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