"All organizations are perfectly designed to get the results they are now getting. If we want different results, we must change the way we do things." - Tom Northup
Performance is essential for results. Yet organizations, in an attempt to manage it with various appraisal systems, are growing increasingly disgruntled with how performance management is performing. Perhaps performance is less about something we manage and more about something we draw out of others through our full engagement with them.
Employee engagement relies on more than willpower, motivation, or sheer desire. We need education, social support, structures, tools, and other mechanisms to be fully engaged.
In a previous post, I redefined employee engagement in simple terms as: good work done well with others every day. Performance is essential in this definition to achieve good work that is done well as we connect with others every day.
Using the PERFORMS checklist to boost engagement
To make performance management or facilitation more engaging I recommend that managers use an 8-point checklist tool based on the acronym PERFORMS. The questions asked in this checklist help infuse employee engagement into performance management.
This is a valuable tool for anyone who is accountable for another person's performance and who is tasked with holding conversations and assessing performance. The tool can be used either before a specific performance conversation or as a daily checklist reminder to get the most from performance management. Here it is:
P - Personable and professional
Am I ensuring that performance management is personable and professional? Engagement is always a human endeavor and demands professional respect.
E - Engage
Do I fully engage with performance management by bringing vigor, dedication, and absorption to the process and practice? We need to transform performance management from a dreaded task to conversations approached with caring, hope, and anticipation.
R - Results
Do I ensure that performance management is fully aligned with results that are important to both the individual and the organization? Performance without a strong connection to meaningful results can ineffectively focus on low value activities.
F - Form
Do I practice this form to both trigger and ensure that I make employee engagement more engaging? I believe engagement needs more tools and structures rather than motivation and willpower. This is an example of a simple tool and structure that can trigger a more engaging approach to performance.
O - Open mind
Do I approach performance management with an open mind willing to have my views challenged, enhanced, and even changed? Questions are more engaging than answers and a good question opens us up to new learning and ways of acting in regards to another employee's performance.
R - Respect
Are my conversations build on a foundation of respect so that the other person knows I care about them and their development? Fostering excellent performance is less about judgment, coercion, and manipulation and more about curiosity, acceptance, and challenge.
M - Meaning
Is meaning woven into my approach so that the actions and conversations are meaningful, significant, and aligned with personal identity? If your approach to performance management or appraisal feels meaningless it is time to make changes right away or abandon the process altogether.
S - Safety
Do I create and maintain psychological safety so that we are able to talk about important issues even when they may be difficult? When the other person knows you care about them and your feedback is predicated on your intention to help them grow and develop there really is no such thing as negative feedback. We can hear tough things from others about our performance when we know they generally care about us and our career.
Engage well with others today for better performance tomorrow
This 8-point checklist is not carved in stone. It is open to revision in any way that improves performance for both yourself and the people you work with. Now, go ahead and ensure your approach to performance management engages and PERFORMS. Engage well with others today for better performance tomorrow.