How Performance Management Is Killing Performance--and What to Do About It

Rethink, Redesign, Reboot

M. Tamra Chandler (Author) | Dave Ulrich (Author)

Publication date: 02/18/2016

How Performance Management Is Killing Performance--and What to Do About It
Rethink, Redesign, Reboot.

Most people associate performance management with the annual review, which is universally dreaded by employees, management, and HR professionals alike. It's a cookie-cutter, fear-based, top-down approach that emphasizes negatives over positives and stifles healthy career conversations. It's never been shown to motivate anyone to do anything but try to avoid it, but nobody feels like they have any alternative. Tamra Chandler has one—and it works.

Actually, Chandler doesn't offer a single alternative—she offers an infinite number of them. Each organization that uses her Performance Management Reboot is able to develop its own unique version since it doesn't make a lot of sense for organizations with different cultures, in different industries and sectors, to do things exactly the same way. Grounded in the latest scientific findings about motivation, it's a transparent, employee-driven process that values collaboration over competition and rewards people for acquiring new skills and increasing their contribution instead of hitting arbitrary benchmarks.

Chandler lays out the general principles and then walks you through each step in creating a performance management process that employees will actually embrace rather than avoid and that will help you meet the three objectives of great performance management: developing your people, rewarding them equitably, and driving your organization's performance. It's the first comprehensive, step-by-step guide to creating a performance management solution that's tailored to your organization's needs and goals and that places the emphasis squarely on your greatest asset: your people.

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Overview

Rethink, Redesign, Reboot.

Most people associate performance management with the annual review, which is universally dreaded by employees, management, and HR professionals alike. It's a cookie-cutter, fear-based, top-down approach that emphasizes negatives over positives and stifles healthy career conversations. It's never been shown to motivate anyone to do anything but try to avoid it, but nobody feels like they have any alternative. Tamra Chandler has one—and it works.

Actually, Chandler doesn't offer a single alternative—she offers an infinite number of them. Each organization that uses her Performance Management Reboot is able to develop its own unique version since it doesn't make a lot of sense for organizations with different cultures, in different industries and sectors, to do things exactly the same way. Grounded in the latest scientific findings about motivation, it's a transparent, employee-driven process that values collaboration over competition and rewards people for acquiring new skills and increasing their contribution instead of hitting arbitrary benchmarks.

Chandler lays out the general principles and then walks you through each step in creating a performance management process that employees will actually embrace rather than avoid and that will help you meet the three objectives of great performance management: developing your people, rewarding them equitably, and driving your organization's performance. It's the first comprehensive, step-by-step guide to creating a performance management solution that's tailored to your organization's needs and goals and that places the emphasis squarely on your greatest asset: your people.

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Meet the Authors


Visit Author Page - M. Tamra Chandler

M. Tamra Chandler is the founding partner and CEO of PeopleFirm, LLC, a consulting firm dedicated to helping organizations achieve the ultimate win-win: inspired people driving inspiring performance. Consulting Magazine named Chandler one of the “Top 25 Consultants” in 2007 and 2014. Before founding PeopleFirm, Chandler was managing partner for the Pacific Northwest practice at Arthur Andersen Business Consulting and executive in charge of people and solutions at Hitachi Consulting.



Visit Author Page - Dave Ulrich



Dave Ulrich is as a professor of business at the University of Michigan and a partner in the RBL Group, a consulting firm focused on helping organizations and leaders deliver value. He studies how organizations build capabilities of speed, learning, collaboration, accountability, talent, and leadership by leveraging human resources. He has helped generate award winning databases that assess alignment between strategies, human resource practices, and human resources competencies. He has published more than 100 articles and book chapters and 22 books. He has won numerous lifetime achievement awards and has consulted with more than half the Fortune 200 companies.

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Table of Contents

Foreword
Preface
Part I: Rethink

Chapter 1: Welcome to the PM Reboot
Chapter 2: The Eight Fatal Flaws
Chapter 3: The Eight Fundamental Shifts
Chapter 4: The Three Common Goals

Part II: Redesign

Chapter 5: Mobilize
Chapter 6: Sketch
Chapter 7: Configure Your Solution
Chapter 8: Making it Real

Part III: Reboot

Chapter 9: Build and Implement
Chapter 10: Making it Stick

Acknowledgements
Appendix
References

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Excerpt

Foreword

Performance management faces a major paradox.

On the one hand, employees and managers all recognize, and studies confirm, that it is the most loathed HR practice. Performance management feels like hazing to the employees being appraised and makes isolated Scrooges of the managers doing the appraisal. As a result, managers hide behind performance management processes meant to quantify and validate behavior. These bureaucratic processes further alienate employees from managers and become administrative folderol. People game the process, and performance management does not improve performance.

On the other hand, accountability matters. Not all employees perform well on all tasks; employees often have differentiated performance; and employees often judge themselves by their intent (which is often positive) more than by their outcomes (which may not be). Without accountability, employees don't perform as well. Few people wash their rental car before returning it, but many fill it up with gas because of obvious accountability. I have tried to lose weight without weighing in, and my good intentions were not realized without accountability. Without accountability, people are unlikely to change and improve performance.

So performance management faces a conundrum. Don't do any performance management, and accountability sloughs and performance lags; keep building complicated processes, and the process breaks and performance lags.

Tamra Chandler not only does a marvelous job depicting this performance management enigma, but she also offers some thoughtful alternatives. As a consultant, she has had the opportunity to observe many leading companies that have both succeeded and failed in performance management. Her writing is engaging with clever metaphors, pictures, and examples. She simplified the complex and is inside her reader's head, trying to rethink and retool performance management.

She starts with what is. Her eight fatal flaws (chapter 2) of traditional performance management will likely leave you nodding in agreement and realizing you are not alone, but also cringing with recognition that good intentions are not working.

She moves to what can be. Her eight shifts (chapter 3) provide a blueprint for moving forward. These shifts are fundamental assumptions about information and people that allow positive accountability to occur.

She then begins with the end in mind by identifying three goals of positive performance management (chapter 4): developing people, rewarding equitably, and driving organization performance. She builds her performance management retooling on this tripod and shows how it can enable a positive conversation.

With shifts and goals defined, she suggests a PM Reboot, where leaders come with assumptions of trust and customization. Trust implies building relationships between employees and managers, listening to each other, sharing decision making, and working together on common goals. Customization means adapting, not adopting, ideas according to the company, job, and individual. Rather than have rigid and standardized processes, work to tailor accountability solutions. She then offers specific performance management redesign solutions in five phases:

• Mobilize: Plan and invite participants to get started.
• Sketch: Align on how to move forward.
• Configure: Prepare a performance solution.
• Build: Adapt the solution.
• Implement: Plan, change, and act on the ideas.

For each of these five phases, she offers specific examples and tools that leaders can use.

What is particularly helpful about Tamra Chandler's work is that she acknowledges what most have realized: that performance management is less about the process (setting goals, ensuring standards, having consequences, providing feedback) and more about positive conversations built on relationships. But she goes beyond the superficial adage “have a positive conversation” to offer specific guidelines, tools, and words that might allow these productive conversations to occur. It feels like she is a genie on the shoulder of a manager who wants to help his or her employees improve through a positive and accountable conversation. She is not prescriptive about a process, but she is committed to building trust and customizing an approach to performance improvement. As appropriate, she weaves in research to validate her recommendations (e.g., Hofsted's workplace cultures). Through the cases she provides, it is obvious that she has had many of these coaching roles and helped well-intentioned managers find the balance between rigid processes and accountability abdication.

Another nice feature about her work is that the principles she proposes apply in both for-profit and not-for-profit settings. I can imagine that these principles could also be adapted to social groups, church settings, and even families, where the paradox of accountability also exists.

Her last chapter (10) is an excellent and valued addition. Many people know what to do but don't do it (e.g., eating healthy, being kind to strangers, listening more). By anticipating resistances and dealing with them in advance, managers can overcome what might go wrong. Her work parallels the seven disciplines of sustainability that we found in helping leaders sustain the changes they know they should make.

Is this book a panacea for the accountability paradox? Probably not. But it is far more helpful than trudging ahead with what is broken or abandoning all sense of accountability. It is particularly insightful on how to build a customized, trusting relationship through a positive conversation. Will employees like knowing how they are doing and what they need to do to improve? Probably not in many cases. Will leaders like being the bearer of bad news and holding up an accountability mirror? Probably not in many cases. But, by managers rethinking, redesigning, and rebooting performance management, accountability can lead to better-developed people, equitable rewards, and sustained organizational performance.

Dave Ulrich
Rensis Likert Professor of Business,
University of Michigan Partner, the RBL Group

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Endorsements

“I've been waiting years for this—this is the best book on performance management that I have ever read! A clever and engaging writer, Chandler doesn't just talk about it; she shows you how to do it. She defines a new path, helping us let go of the worship of false PM gods who have given us nothing but grief.”
—Geoff Bellman, management consultant and author

“Any leader, manager, or HR professional who believes in the power of good feedback will profit from this book. The author captures her readers' attention with her authenticity, her wit, and her deep experience. It's a fast read because she hits the subject hard and has really spent time thinking through her recommendations. You'll circle phrases and dog-ear the pages!”
—Bev Kaye, coauthor of Love 'Em or Lose 'Em and Hello Stay Interviews, Goodbye Talent Loss

“A book about performance management that actually makes you chuckle, sigh, squirm, and cheer? This is it. Along the way you'll find very practical ideas that are grounded in research and also explained with clever and engaging examples that you'll recognize. Chandler proposes a ‘reboot' toward real conversations, a focus on capability, nuanced customization, and transparency that have been too long in arriving. It is an essential shift for organizations that want to compete in a global work ecosystem that is increasingly boundaryless and democratic. This book offers a practical way to make real progress. It avoids bashing organizations, recognizing and honoring the real value that leaders, managers, and workers create every day as they strive to connect their work and development to the broader organization mission and contribution.”
—John Boudreau, author of Retooling HR and coauthor of Lead the Work, Beyond HR, and Transformative HR

“I
love this book! There probably isn't a person alive who isn't aware that the traditional approach to performance management flat out doesn't work, but few know what to do about it. Tamra Chandler does. What's more, Chandler writes in an engaging voice that is wise, clear, practical, and, at times, hilarious. If you are tasked with rethinking performance management in your organization, this book will guide you step-by-brilliant-step from rethinking to redesigning to rebooting.”
—Susan Scott, CEO, Fierce Inc., and author of Fierce Conversations and Fierce Leadership

“How Performance Management Is Killing Performance — and What to Do About It is an eloquent, lively manifesto for finally taking the right approach. It details a workplace transformation with warmth, engagement, and humor. Chandler has  drawn from a vast bank of knowledge, research, and years of hands-on experience in the field. Suddenly, as she explains it, fixing something broken — and fixing it for the better — is entirely within our reach.”
—BlogCritics

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