Alberto Arroyo is an Assessment and Development Consultant at The Vaya Group, a Talent Management consultancy that applies science and precision to the art of talent assessment and development.
Mid-year review. Performance management. Constructive feedback. Annual review. Development plan. You’re still reading? I’m impressed. Whether you are the provider or recipient in these situations, most often, these phrases elicit high blood pressure, anxiety, a sense of annoyance, maybe even fear. Needless to say, most do not look forward to “that” time of the year; and by “that time of year” I mean performance review time. Maybe that’s because more than half of the managers surveyed from a VitalSmarts study in 2009 said they have employees who are stuck at performance levels below their potential. While most employees have unrealistically high opinions of their performance, are surprised by negative feedback, don’t believe they get clear feedback on what they should do, and believe their boss is holding them back. A disastrous combination, wouldn’t you say?
Fixing the Disastrous Combination
In thinking through this dilemma, I started asking myself, “why is there such disparity between manager and employee perception?” I can only assume it’s because they have no starting point, no common ground to lean on and connect to. How I define good performance may actually be quite different than how you view success, right? This really hits home the importance of competency and evidence-based performance management.
Having a structured set of behavioral based competencies to speak to and reference can be incredibly helpful in guiding performance discussions. If clear feedback and positive behavioral change is the goal, then both parties will need to be well-acquainted with what success looks like. And if the VitalSmarts study is accurate in their finding that seventy-five percent of employees who are aware their boss is unhappy with their performance can’t verbalize what they are doing wrong or how they are going to change, then let’s put some clarity around it.
It’s time to define the ambiguity. Identify what it is that leads people to be successful in a given role or situation. This way you and your employee will be able to wrap your heads around what is often left unclear, conceptual and difficult to implement.
The most effective and successful learning organizations have acknowledged the importance and some have even mastered the art of competency, behavior and evidence-based performance management. Lowe’s, McDonald’s, even the IRS have committed to developing training systems and leadership pipeline management based on clear behavioral measures and therefore pointed, actionable performance feedback.
How could conversations with your employee or manager benefit from a behaviorally-based starting point?