The 4 Most Common Misconceptions About Performance Management

Photo illustration by istockphoto.com
Photo illustration by istockphoto.com

Performance management is vital in the workplace. It helps ensure that goals are being met effectively and efficiently by individual workers, teams and the organization as a whole.

Social networks have reinvented the way we interact on a personal and now a professional level. Socialization has greatly affected performance management and the way organizations can set goals, track progress and function in real-time.

Today, employees are more than names on a desk and instead are taking on more of a managerial role. Performance management is not only for management but is a collaborative approach to letting all employees take charge of their career.

However, there are some misconceptions that many people have about performance management that need to be addressed, including:

1. Feedback should only take place during the annual performance review. Whoever decided that feedback should only take place a handful of times a year really did not know much about management. Formal feedback, whether positive or negative has to be an ongoing process.

The more feedback an employee receives the better they will feel recognized for their efforts. Constant feedback also provides for a more fun and evolving process that everyone can become a part of.

2. Goals should only be set at the beginning of the year or quarter and do not need to be revisited. Sometimes, we go into work expecting our day to go exactly as planned and end it wondering what happened. Routines are wonderful, but the real world hardly functions the way we would always like. Adapting is now a very big part of performance management as priorities change and markets shift more often than we would like. With new developments come new priorities and projects and therefore new goals.

While goals are still important, they need to constantly be re-assessed to reflect client and company changes. Social goals make it possible to keep up with the fast-paced work environment. Priorities are always changing and social goals make it possible to have goals in the now, next and someday sphere.

3. Performance management is only for management roles. Feedback, goal setting and the likes are no longer the sole responsibility of management. In the modern workplace, employees have a lot more responsibility and options. They are encouraged to be more open-minded and share ideas with everyone.

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Transparency is highly appreciated in most work atmospheres and taking charge of one’s career is expected. Additionally, when workers move around jobs every few years, they need to be more in charge of their plans as the same people will not be there to guide them.

Managing performance management is not something that only takes place once a year to simply assign responsibilities. Similar to feedback and goals, it is something that is ongoing and needs to be reassessed as new priorities and challenges come up.

 4. Performance management is only for individual employees. Performance management is not limited between the manager and employee. It is collaborative and designed to create openness and transparency.

Even if virtual companies are popping up left, right and center, teamwork is becoming more important and prevalent than ever before. In a world where everything is going social, it is no surprise that performance management is increasingly focusing on teamwork and collaboration.

Everything from goals, feedback and ideas are meant to be shared and recognized by a team…and not just management. Owning your own career is easier than ever before — and improving team communication through collaboration and performance management is revolutionizing the way companies function.

What misconceptions have you heard about performance management that you strongly disagree with?

Morgan Norman is the Founder and CEO of Work Simple, putting an end to performance reviews by providing a better way for coworkers and teams to share goals, work together, get and give feedback, and make each other shine. Connect with him and WorkSimple on Twitter at Twitter.com/worksimple.

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3 Comments on “The 4 Most Common Misconceptions About Performance Management

  1. There is a common misconception propagated mostly amongst consultants / HR executives and leaders that the main key to securing behaviour change is to formally write into someone’s job description some new objectives that align to the change required. The logic goes that the person knows they will be reviewed against these at the end of the year then they will adapt – reward and recognition…. carrot and stick. Fine. 

    That said however, in line with the article’s main thread people are paying less and less attention to their formal performance objectives and job descriptions (in fact do most people even have a formal JD anymore?!) In most PLC’s if you asked any random employee to pull out their JD its most likely they wouldn’t have it easily accessible as its just not that relevant to their day to day working. I like the authors idea of Social Goals… In laymans terms I would outline this as the immediate priorities of work that an individual or team is focused on. Mostly unwritten and informal, these goals shift daily, weekly, monthly as projects, clients and needs evolve. It is these that drive thoughts, behaviours and therefore results

    Does that mean we throw out JD, performance frameworks and intentional written goal setting? Not at all. My suggestion is that consultants need a deeper and broader view of the intricacies of what it takes to change behaviour when looking at organisational alignment and performance management. Rather than assuming that some new objectives written into the existing annual performance management cycle will get the job done. Unfortunately, there’s far more to it…

    Thumbs up on a great post. 

    1. I agree that performance management is not the sole task of a manager but the employees contribute actively to achieving organizational goals.  Realistically, I feel there is still a need for somebody to set the goals and this task is done by top management of the organization and then translated down the line by the organizational units and eventually by work teams.  How the team goal (which is aligned to the goal of the organization) will be achieved will be decided by the team.  The manager provides a holistic view of the project while the team provides the details on how the project will be done.  It is the task of the manager to ensure that the needed competencies are present in the team (competency management) whether these are already available or need to be developed.  The manager takes the role of a team coach in deciding team strategy and individual play and provide constant feedback on team performance and re-assessment of strategy and play.  The team members do the actual play and the manager analyzes results and give feedback. 

  2. A great article and good advice.

    Having worked with companies in sectors ranging from housing to HR consultancies, I’ve heard many accounts of staff who have these kinds of misconceptions about performance management. That’s why it’s important to keep conversation going throughout the year – as well as communicating clearly before you begin the performance management process. You must explain to staff what the aims are and how appraisals and goal setting will be beneficial to both individual and whole company success.

    As you rightly say, transparency is appreciated and expected
    in the modern workplace, and the way staff expect to communicate with each
    other and with management has changed. Employees are comfortable chatting
    online, and regular communication with managers about progress and feedback is
    great for staff morale.

    At Carbon360 each member of staff is set individual goals
    based on their appraisal feedback, we also share goals across
    departments. It keeps us focussed and also encourages collaboration. The key to
    all good performance management is communication, and with social and online
    communication the norm, it’s really easy to do. There’s no excuse not to talk
    to your staff, and if you keep communication with managers ongoing, employees
    will thank you for it!

    Alex Katon – Product Manager

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