An Evolution, Not a Revolution - Performance Management Today

There is no question the current state of most performance management processes need to change.  However, a rush to change can have a devastating impact on morale and productivity and, in the end, not produce the sustained performance every organization is looking for.  

It is true, performance models, like current day forced ranking systems, tend to produce more negative morale issues than enhancing personal and team performance. And just think of the millions of collective hours spent reviewing, discussing, and justifying (often arguing) performance in those HR/Department “talent calibration sessions”.  If those same hours were redirected to developing, training, and enabling performance versus “calibrating” it, think of the impact that would have. And what if a leader’s time shifted from managing, directing, and reviewing performance to facilitating, developing, and pursing performance?  

And furthermore, what if the money currently spent on customizing, implementing, and maintaining very expensive and complex performance management modules in HRIS systems, that rarely deliver results as designed and end up documenting performance instead of developing it, was used to cultivate an employee-led, leader supported culture with targeted development activities and experiences?

The opportunity to reimagine and redesign performance management as we know it is here.  However, it takes long-range vision rather than succumbing to the ground swell for rapid and sometimes radical change in the short run. As with most change, the pendulum tends to swing too far but will eventually find the right rhythm.  To that end, there is a tidal wave of quick fix feedback and coaching app’s rolling out every day claiming to be the next tool that facilitates performance success. 

And while constant and real time feedback is a key to future performance success, an organization must prepare and cultivate an environment through training and practice to enhance an individual’s capability and capacity to self-assess, be accountable for personal and team performance, turn feedback into change, and how and when to provide good, objective, and most importantly, actionable peer assessment and feedback.

Organizations must enable a culture that values performance development over performance documentation by assisting all people leaders in making the shift in their leadership style and competencies from managing performance activities and conducting performance reviews to developing and cultivating the leader in everyone by facilitating, not directing, ongoing performance connections.  

Performance management can and should evolve, but care and caution should be taken to implement it properly.  Enable organizational performance success with the proper clarity, alignment, and resources. Support it with leadership that inspires and energizes, not directs and manages, and create a powerful employee-led culture that takes ownership and leads both personal and team performance.  Remember, it is an evolution, not a revolution.


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 toassist our clients in developing a dynamic and customized blue print to deliver role model organizational and personal performance.