This is a draft cheat sheet. It is a work in progress and is not finished yet.
8 steps to improve the situation and make it happen.
1. Secure the public support of top management
Secure the public support of top management as champions. Everyone needs to understand this is an important problem. Derek is correct that effective performance feedback is a key to high performance. Experts in talent management argue for identifying the “A” players. This should be a priority.
2. Involve managers throughout the process
Involve managers throughout the process to revise the way their performance will be evaluated. The best managers can serve as Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) and there is every reason to rely on that approach here. They know the problems better than anyone. With guidance, a small team can define the parameters for the process in two or three meetings. If we were designing a tool for a carpenter, we would want them involved. It’s no different here. Then they “own” the new system and can communicate their progress effectively with peers.
3. Hold managers accountable for managing
Hold managers accountable for managing performance. They need to understand what’s expected and how their performance will be evaluated, and that their pay and career progress will depend in part on how they perform. Developing performance measures including job-specific competencies is not difficult. In my opinion the engagement of their people should be a key performance indicator (KPI).
4. Provide coaching for ineffective managers
Provide coaching for managers that are ineffective. My experience suggests those that are the best warrant recognition and will be more readily accepted as coaches than anyone in HR. Managers who do not show improvement should be moved back to their former position. That sends a powerful message. Recent studies have confirmed that poor supervision is often the reason employees quit. The cost of poor supervision justifies the investment in coaching..
5. Technology is already important
But one problem that has not been adequately addressed is the fact that managers and supervisors are confronted with performance problems throughout the year, but often are embarrassed to admit they do not know or recall the answers – so they muddle through, sometimes with disastrous repercussions. That suggests developing a Q&A addressing common concerns and providing advice that they can easily access.
6. Rely on small groups of high performing
Rely on small groups of high performing job incumbents to define performance criteria for each significant occupation. The idea that the same performance dimensions should be used for all employees should have been discarded decades ago. Experienced incumbents serving as SMEs know what is essential for job success. With guidance, they can define a set of key competencies important to their job family in two or three meetings.
7. Define “Outstanding” & “Unacceptable”
Define both the “Outstanding” and the “Unacceptable” performance levels on each performance measure. Employees want to know what they have to accomplish to be successful. Many will aspire to be “Outstanding.” The organization needs to be able to defend low ratings. And most important, it will facilitate those performance feedback discussions. The best performers serving as SMEs can do this in an extra meeting or two.
8. Promise to review the performance
Promise to review the performance system and its use annually.When there are problems, employees want to know they will be addressed. Involving employee focus groups is not costly. They can also be helpful in solving problems. This is not brain surgery.