Ahh, Valentine’s Day looms ever closer, and love is in the air. Whether you’ve been in a relationship for 2 weeks or 60 years, it’s a time when we focus on our relationship, and celebrate what’s great about it. Regardless of your views on Valentine’s Day itself (is it romantic or an over-commercialised gimmick to make money?), having a set date in the calendar to focus on something important (like our relationship) makes us actually do it.
And this is what Valentine’s Day has in common with performance management. Love it loath it, setting a performance review date makes us take a little time out to think about our career, our performance, and the relationship we have with our employer. Like personal relationships, our relationship with our work will not flourish unless we work at it, take stock, and take time out to discuss what’s great (or maybe not so great) about the way things are.
But performance management (like a personal relationship) cannot be successful if you only dedicate one day a year to it. It needs to be something that we put into every day. I’m lucky enough to have been with my husband for 20 years and we have a great relationship. But I do not consider myself a relationship expert, so I did a little research to identify what makes a great relationship. It’s amazing how many of these factors underpin great performance management too. Here are my favourite three.
1. Sharing a similar outlook, approach and goals. Couples who stay together have a similar outlook on life, enjoy being together, agree with how each other thinks and behaves, and share the same dreams in life. At work, a harmonious relationship must be based on clear and common goals (personal and business), and an understanding of acceptable behaviour. Setting objectives, and having a clear role profile, job description or competence model help to ensure that the employer and individual want the same things out of the relationship.
2. Communication. People in successful relationships communicate regularly and openly. They listen to the other’s point of view without judgement, strive to understand and take time to give each other personal attention. Similarly, any differences that occur are addressed sensibly and early on, not ignored or allowed to escalate. The single most important factor (in my humble opinion) in performance management is to have regular conversations about performance. Just five minutes taken informally to give feedback can make a big difference. Having regular, short 1-1 meetings to ask people how they feel things are going, find out if they need help or give feedback makes performance management easy, normal and keeps people motivated to do their best.
3. Showing appreciation. Successful couples do not take each other for granted. They show appreciation for the things they do for each other, whether it’s a simple ‘thank-you’, a gesture or small gift, or a romantic weekend in Florence. In performance management, managers have to show appreciation. Simply recognising the effort that someone has put in can make a real difference to their commitment and performance. Of course, more tangible rewards are always appreciated, but if these cannot be provided, letting someone know that they are valued is so important.
Good performance management underpins success at work. If you feel that you need support to get more out of your system, please contact us. We can provide skills training for managers, workbook and manuals to clarify the process, or help you to design competence models and simple, effective documentation. Why not review your performance management systems, skills and practices and check that you are giving it the best chance to succeed?