This is the last post in my series on the five levers of change. Please don't mistake the placement of this fifth lever with its value. If we use the first four levers of change: Communications, Measurement, Resource Allocation and Reward and Recognition, and fail to embrace the practices of Performance Management, our change efforts are still in jeopardy .
Performance management is the process in which you reach agreement with individual members of your team regarding who will do what by when – and you create the mechanisms to ensure these expectations are met.
Here’s an abbreviated way to think about the critical elements in an effective performance management system.
Clarity – This is cornerstone of performance management. It’s probably the easiest part of the process too. However, it’s where most leaders drop the ball. Focused conversations with written documentation are essential to achieve clarity. A conversation passing in the hallway will never suffice for real clarity. Schedule the time and document your decisions. If there’s not clarity on the desired outcomes, your chances of success plummet.
Coaching – Assuming the outcomes are clear, great performance management also involves on-going coaching. Think about an athletic coach - he or she coaches the team before, during and after the game. Leaders should do the same. Of these opportunities, the one most often missed is the chance to coach DURING the game. Leaders often wait until the year-end review to give coaching. At that point, the game is over.
Candor – The best leaders are truth-tellers. They don’t avoid difficult conversations. This is not to say they don’t care; on the contrary, I believe leaders who tell the whole truth care far more for the well-being and future success of their people more than those leaders who lack the courage to tell the truth. I want to work for leaders who tell the whole truth.
Consequences – Does it matter if someone on your team meets their goals? Do people have to perform? Are there rewards for superior results? Are there appropriate consequences for poor performance over time? If there are no positive or negative consequences, it becomes exceedingly difficult to manage performance.
As I’ve written repeatedly over the last few years, as leaders, creating change is what we’re paid to do. Therefore, if we’re going to master any set of behaviors, I can make a strong case for the five levers of change.[GLS_Shield]
How can you use the five levers to create change in your world?