Chapter 1

Introduction

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When we talk to HR pro­fes­sion­als, they con­sis­tent­ly tell us that they want to adopt a cul­ture of con­tin­u­ous per­for­mance con­ver­sa­tions, but they are con­cerned about mak­ing the change and are unsure about how to make it work in prac­tice. Expe­ri­ence has shown us that it is pos­si­ble to suc­cess­ful­ly replace appraisals with an ongo­ing, year-round process that is eas­i­er and more ful­fill­ing for both man­ag­er and staff. How­ev­er, we can’t ignore the fact that some organ­i­sa­tions have tried to embed reg­u­lar per­for­mance con­ver­sa­tions and failed to get traction.

In this eBook, I’ll be unpack­ing the rea­sons why and giv­ing prac­ti­cal advice on how to get it right. Hav­ing reg­u­lar per­for­mance dis­cus­sions is actu­al­ly far from a new con­cept. For those of us in HR, how many times have we said to our man­agers there should be no sur­pris­es in the annu­al review – noth­ing should come up that hasn’t already been dis­cussed”.

Yet dur­ing my time spent work­ing as a per­for­mance man­age­ment con­sul­tant, my col­leagues and I con­sis­tent­ly came across the prob­lem of man­agers not dis­cussing per­for­mance on a reg­u­lar basis. So why not?

The stock answer to this is that man­agers lack the skills and con­fi­dence to have qual­i­ty per­for­mance con­ver­sa­tions – and in many cas­es this is true, so it’s essen­tial that we pro­vide the nec­es­sary train­ing and guid­ance. But what we have learned from work­ing with numer­ous organ­i­sa­tions is that there are oth­er fac­tors in play which are fre­quent­ly being over­looked.

In essence, there are three things (in addi­tion to pro­vid­ing train­ing) that are required to embed a cul­ture of reg­u­lar, mean­ing­ful con­ver­sa­tions and feedback:

1. A per­for­mance man­age­ment frame­work that empow­ers man­agers
2. Hav­ing the right tech­nol­o­gy
3. Hav­ing the nec­es­sary vis­i­bil­i­ty and accountability

In this guide I will address these points and pro­vide some exam­ples which, when put into prac­tice, can result in suc­cess­ful per­for­mance improve­ment that can trans­form a company’s productivity.