Personal Performance: Leading it in a Lagging Performance Management Environment

 
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Related Fun Fact of the Week:

Peter Drucker first used the term "management by objectives" in his 1954 book The Practice of Management. While the basic ideas of MBO were not original to Drucker, they pulled from other management practices to create a complete “system”. The idea draws on the many ideas presented in Mary Parker Follett's 1926 essay, "The Giving of Orders".

These were the origins of today’s performance management processes.


It is well known that most performance management processes being used today actually promote and measure lagging performance. Goals and expectations are set at such a high level that by the time they get cascaded to the front line it has been days or weeks and with job-specific clarity lacking or non-existent.  Then the measures of that performance are “reviewed” either annually or semi-annually where little can be done to accelerate performance or intervene until it is too late to have any meaningful near-term impact. It is almost a setup for failure in today’s constantly changing business environment where these goals are always a moving target throughout the year and can be completely irrelevant by the time they are actually discussed.

However, even working in a performance process that might be lagging in nature, you can lead your personal performance by doing these “lead where you are” activities:

  1. Proactively set expectations with your manager. Don’t wait for leadership to set them for you. Take the initiative and set time on their calendar to outline expectations with them. Set what your manager can expect from you as it relates to your daily performance activities, team contributions, personal behaviors, et cetera, that will enable positive and sustainable performance results no matter what the specific goals might end up being as they get cascaded to you.

  2. Set 20-30 minutes every 3-4 weeks with your manager to proactively lead the discussion on your performance results and how well you are delivering on the expectations you set. Highlight your areas of success and have a plan for closing any gaps that might exist.

  3. Create or update a personal learning plan that specifically enhances your eligibility (technical, competencies), suitability (personal behaviors), and your viability (personal and team impact). Gain continuous performance feedback from others on your areas of strength to leverage and areas for development. Talk through your growth progress during your regular performance connection meeting with your manager each month.

To lead your performance, control what you can, and as a result, begin to influence what you can’t control by your performance success. Don’t let lagging performance management processes hold you back from leading your own performance.


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Cornerstone Learning is a performance and leadership consulting organization that has worked with clients all over the world. Our focus is working with individuals and organizations to create performance solutions that deliver top-tier results by inspiring, enabling, and developing employee-led, leader supported, and organization enabled performance. We are able to successfully deliver this through multiple products and services such as employee surveysonline training, performance assessments, and performance coaching. The goal at Cornerstone Learning is to assist our clients in developing a dynamic and customized blue print to deliver role model organizational and personal performance.