Measurement & Performance:

Two Distinct Processes?

Insights from the Sloan Management Review.

An interesting article about performance management was recently published in the Sloan Management Review. It questions whether measuring and improving performance are two separate objectives best achieved through two distinct processes.

For decades, organizations have relied on a single, convoluted performance management process to achieve multiple goals: measure performance, improve performance, and inform talent decisions. This multi-pronged approach, however, leads to confusion, wasted time, and ultimately, ineffectiveness.

The article argues for separating these objectives into two distinct processes:
1. Measuring Performance:
Objectives: Capture performance data to inform talent decisions (promotions, compensation, etc.).
Focus: Simplicity and scalability.
Metrics: 5 key dynamics: work quality, timeliness, proficiency, team partnership, and manager partnership.
Frequency: Frequent data collection (e.g., quarterly) through short, manager-centric surveys.
Benefits: Reduced time, minimized bias, real-time talent insights.

2. Accelerating Performance:
Objectives: Improve individual and team performance.
Focus: Frequent, personalized attention from managers.
Method: Weekly check-ins using open-ended questions about priorities, support needs, and work satisfaction.

Benefits: Increased employee engagement, feeling valued, and ultimately, improved performance.
The traditional performance management process often relies on complex frameworks and annual reviews, creating inaccurate data and neglecting the crucial element of manager engagement. Replacing this with simple, manager-driven measurements and regular, supportive check-ins offers a more effective and efficient way to manage and improve employee performance.

Key Takeaways:

  • Separate measurement and acceleration.
  • Keep measurement simple and focused.
  • Focus on frequent, personalized manager interactions for performance improvement.
  • Benefits include less time, less bias, improved talent insights, and increased employee engagement and performance.

A regional credit union simplified performance measurement to a 6-item survey for managers to complete quarterly.
The same credit union introduced weekly check-ins between managers and employees, leading to increased employee satisfaction and performance.

Next Steps:
Consider if your current performance management process is serving its purpose effectively.
Explore implementing separate processes for measurement and acceleration.
Start with small, easy-to-implement changes, such as introducing manager check-ins.
By adopting a strategic, two-pronged approach, organizations can finally achieve the true potential of performance management: accurate insights, effective development, and a more engaged and productive workforce.