Performance management is a waste of time

“Performance management is a waste of time.” And you know what, I couldn’t agree with you more. But let me explain.

When I started my career as an HR professional we used to have conversations with our team members. We sat in cafeterias or in break rooms and talked with each other. We had meetings with each other at work. And we had personal relationships outside of work. The point is – we knew each other. That’s not to say that we always liked each other, but we understood each other in a deeper way.

At some point during my career data became the king of all things. HR was driven by the idea that the more data we gather on our employees the more effectively we can show performance levels and somehow or another translate that into financial performance of the business. I’m not saying that can’t happen but in our effort to gather, analyze, and report back data we stopped encouraging discussions. And instead we started focusing on automation and statistics.

We don’t know each other as well as we used to. And I think we should change that.

A performance management system that focuses on data collection and analysis is a business exercise that is missing a big thing – the human element. It also doesn’t convey some essential factors of employee engagement. An effective system connects some pretty important dots like:

  • Sharing the goals of the organization
  • Understanding how the goals of each team/department are aligned with organization
  • Sets work objectives for team members
  • Used as a communication tool
  • Reduces the amount of work for management versus focusing on your work

You might read that last bullet and laugh – but read on.

A performance management system that focused on one review meeting and maybe a mid-year review does not allow our team members to get to know each other. And think about this – if you worked on a project from January to June and found out at your mid-year review that all the work you’d just done really had no relevance to the business because “the plan changed in March”, wouldn’t you be a little upset? Of course you would.

A more effective approach is to have more frequent conversations with each other. Those conversations don’t need to have fancy forms. They don’t necessarily need to be entered into an HRIS. But they need to happen. And there needs to be a continuum of those conversations so that you know what your team is working on and they know that their efforts add value to the business.

The more a team member understands how their work fits into the big picture, the easier it will be for you to manage their efforts. In fact, it empowers employees to manage their own activities and thus reduces the amount of time you’ll spend managing the minutia.

Read my next series of blogs as I’ll explore the other aspects of performance management that will enhance your time instead of wasting it.