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Performance Management

Management thinking has traditionally focused on the manager’s role in managing down. Far less time and attention have been given to how direct reports can (and should) “manage up.” Essentially, managing up means managing the relationship with your manager so that both of you can achieve your goals, as well as the organization’s. It is an active rather than passive process — you have to work at it. Being proactive epitomizes the concept.

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Here’s a short exchange that might strike a responsive chord.

John: Michael, I guess we’re meeting because your manager told you that you need an executive coach.

Michael: I’m certainly under pressure. I’ve been stretched incredibly thin and I’m just not coping as effectively as I’d like.

John: What’s the problem? Not enough resources? The wrong priorities? Too much into the details and not watching the big picture?

Michael: You know, it’s a strange thing. I’ve had all this responsibility pushed onto me with limited resources. I ask for help, get very little and I’m knocking myself out.

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Why do managers forget to give the positive feedback that motivates their direct reports and gives the necessary encouragement to stay motivated? They’re busy, pre-occupied, but mostly, they just take things for granted — it’s part of the job; it’s expected. However, people like to know where they stand, like to know that when they make the effort or think of something creative, it is appreciated.

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Companies are becoming increasingly sophisticated in the performance management process with annual merit increases and incentive payouts linked more closely through formula-driven systems. This has been accompanied by a shift towards “metrics” (simply another word for measures). The old adage, “if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it,” has gained increasing credibility.

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The annual performance evaluation is one of the more controversial HR practices. It is an integral part of the performance management process. It assesses actual performance for the year for the goals and objectives set at the beginning of the year. It provides input for growth and improvement and it enables performance to be linked to the reward system (annual merit increases and bonus/incentive payouts).

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The lack of coaching by managers continues to concern us. When managers fail to coach their direct reports, performance and behavioral issues are neglected and professional development doesn’t happen. The result is:

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Performance Evaluations – The controversy continues to swirl!
  • Performance evaluations are a waste of time!
  • Performance evaluations cause stress for managers and direct reports.
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