10 Most Common Pitfalls of Performance Management

Companies around the world spend millions of dollars and expend countless hours of effort on performance management initiatives every year.

Despite armies of indoctrinated managers, many employee giveaways, and the latest motivational techniques, most performance management projects are deemed failures.

As a result, many companies are questioning performance management’s contribution to overall business success.

Through its work with mid-tier and large companies worldwide, FTP has found the problem with most performance management programs is in communication and project execution errors that sabotage subsequent educational efforts.

FTP calls these errors “The 10 Deadly Sins of Performance Management.”

1. Assuming Performance Will Improve Simply Because Management Mandated It Will

Many companies claim to have a performance management program in place, but often what they have is no more than a directive from senior management.

Even if your senior management team is gung-ho about performance management, your program needs to be clearly defined, and measurable.

Otherwise, it will fall victim to the inevitable business crunches ahead, whether it’s a bad quarter, a new competitor, or a hot new market trend.

2. Failing to Communicate the Details of Your Process Improvement Plan

Failure to communicate the who, what, when, where, why before you start to take action leads to failure.

The confusion here leads to indecision, inaction and upset. Companies must spell out guidelines on how employees should use performance management to achieve the objectives of enterprise.

Spend time articulating the program’s worth up front, and you’ll avoid fighting rear-guard skirmishes later on.

3. Using Threats, Intimidation and Scare Tactics to Push Through Improvements

This problem is related to the previous one. You’ll never achieve consistent productivity gains without the support of the people standing on the front lines of your operations.

An effective process improvement program provides a logically consistent set of goals and principles that guide day-to-day functions in a company’s operations infrastructure.

4. Assuming That Middle Management Will Automatically Buy Into the Improvement Process

Educating middle managers on performance management is just the first step, and often the easiest one, to improving operations.

Senior execs need to recognize how complacent people can be.

To combat this, they must find ways to get middle managers to:

  • Pay attention to performance management initiatives.
  • Develop a strong interest in the improvement process.
  • Trust enough in the program to share it with their subordinates.

5. Putting Process Over Purpose

Many well-intentioned organizations and individuals become so preoccupied with the improvement system that they lose sight of the real objectives.

Reengineered processes alone do not guarantee a more effective organization.

Successful organizations realize that performance management is a tool that, despite its usefulness, should not have veto power over strategic business and operations decisions.

6. Becoming Obsessed With Numbers and Constantly Raising Operations Standards

Like many good things in life, setting standards successfully requires a modicum of education, discipline and common sense. But using standards correctly is a skill that can be learned.

7. Counting on Boosterism

Counting on catchy slogans, buttons, balloons and free lunches to solve performance problems and maintain staff morale.

Boosterism is oversold, overblown and overdone.

8. Assuming That Your People Know How to Perform at the Level of Your Expectations

You’d never consider handing the keys to your car to a teenager who just passed their written driver’s test, but hasn’t spent any time behind the wheel honing their driving skills or technique.

But that’s precisely the philosophy that companies take when they spend a week or two showing employees the steps necessary to do their job, without ever helping them build the skills required for peak productivity on a consistent basis.

9. Falling Victim to The “We Are So Powerful We Can Do Anything” Syndrome

Wrong! Nobody is an expert at everything.

10. Providing Lukewarm Support to Performance Management

Companies shouldn’t even think about an improvement effort if they aren’t willing to allocate the required resources to it, “Come hell or high water.”

Change is hard and requires commitment.

Good intentions and hard work can’t compensate for built-in performance management flaws.

The trick is to keep the objectives always in view, regularly measure and report on your organization’s progress, and make adjustments.

About FTP

FTP provides consulting, training and mentoring designed to help mid-tier and large companies enhance productivity and accelerate cycle times.

We also lay a foundation for an efficient, adaptive and customer-centric world-class operations and technology infrastructure. www.FTPConsulting.com

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10 Most Common Pitfalls of Performance Management
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FTP has found the problem with most performance management programs is in communication and project execution errors that sabotage subsequent educational efforts.
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