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Improving performance or cementing poor practices?

Improving PerformanceI was sitting in one of my favourite places the other day enjoying coffee, reading a good book and doing a little bit of people watching. It is amazing what you see if you just look. All of what we discuss in the training room happens in real life. It so happens that on the table next to me I noticed that there was a performance review being undertaken. Which is cool, as we often mention in training, getting the environment right adds great value to the process, getting out of the office can change mind sets and encourage a deeper discussion. Except, this wasn’t getting out of the office, it was the manager of the coffee shop undertaking a review with one of the baristas. Again this wouldn’t, necessarily, be a problem, however the manager insisted on continuing her day job whilst undertaking the review. The barista didn’t complain, seemingly happy with the way his review was being done to him. I choose my words carefully as that does seem to be a theme introduced by many participants on our training courses, their reviews are done to them. It is about what the manager wants to say, not about discussing ways to improve performance. Consequently, why engage with the process? Let’s just get it over with so I can get back to my day job, luckily it is only a couple of times a year. Many companies notice that performance management isn’t working and occasionally bring in some expensive consultants to redesign the process. However, generally, it is not the process that is the problem but the way the staff engage with the process.

So if you are a manager of people, reviewing the performance of others will be a part of your role. Only you can decide how big a part. You can decide where your focus is, you can decide whether it is something you do to your people or do with them. You can use it as a tool to engage with your staff or use it as another way to alienate them. Your choice, you decide.