, , ,

The Performance Alchemist

PMS: As a performance leader I had to implement a performance management system (PMS) that only the Human Resources Officer and I wanted (because her performance was contingent on it). I brought 3,000 people on board. Yes it works best if you have ethical, emotionally intelligent, appreciative inquiry, coaching leaders who compel their employees to high performance. However implementation of a system should state what results were required. If “tick counters” were required to be leaders on their performance plan they would change their behavior. I also trained on the PMS, set emails, wrote helps, and conducted town hall meetings.

Measures: The measures must be customer centric and meaningful such as number of hours per employee of mission critical competency increasing training provided versus number of classes conducted so we could measure across organizations. It’s not too hard to measure progress, its merely hard which is why people resist doing so. Yes we should use management by objectives.

Empowerment: Ideally the employees should draft their performance plan, mid-year review, appraisal and award for their supervisor’s approval. Statistically employees are harder on themselves than their supervisors are. Being empowered like this is a reward which engages employees so they work harder than they must merely to retain their jobs.

Subject Matter Expertise: I don’t believe that your supervisor needs to know how to do your job. They need to appraise your effectiveness at it though. For example, a judge tells the bailiff what to do such as keep defendants from attacking him or escaping. Getting the reward you want like money/time off/great assignments/less control/change to rub elbows with the big boys/etc.

Management: I manage from the perspective of catching employees doing something right or good. I immediately write back to praisers expressing gratitude for the praise and say that we appreciate the employee too, and share the email with the entire team. They get FEDARONI like my dog gets PUPARONI. If there is complaint I discuss it with the employee, collaborate in drafting a response and have the employee reply, ccing me. As a leader I do not allow customers to put employee work on my desk ensuring that I am free to work on strategic and systemic production. It also builds relationships between me, the employee and the customer; and stops customers from sending nasty grams. I once made a point of telling a supervisor how appreciated her employee’s honesty in returning my expensive pin. I went back a second time to ensure the supervisor heard me. I don’t believe that she paid me any attention. I know that was a great disincentive to the employee and embarassed both of us.

Reward: There doesn’t need to be money or time of to reward employees. Ideally they will be assigned work with built in reward so they work harder than they must to retain employment. Additionally, you can give high performers the good TDY, assignment, detail, training, or whatever motivates that particular employees.
Reward: Also a performance management system is an attempt to objective a subjective process. Unethical managers can play any system they want to reward their friend.

Organizational Politics: Quite often the person with the best relationship with the supervisor gets the most reward. Sorry organizational politics exist everywhere. Face the brutal reality of having to build the best relationship with your supervisor or finding a new one.

Disincentive: It is a shame that managers get rewarded according to the numbers they supervise, which is a disincentive to production.

By the way, how does a supervisor’s boss, who needs to approve the performance plan, allow the supervisor to put “be nicer to me” on a performance plan? To me it sounds like a childish waste of our taxpaying customers’ time.

Leave a Comment


Leave a Reply

Anne Steppe

Must strongly disagree with your opinion on Empowerment. I’m already required to do just that and I do NOT feel empowered at all. In fact, I resent the entire process and feel that it lends more to what I call “supervisor detachment.”

Carol Davison

Thanks for sharing. We did this at MD State Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and it worked very successfully. Here at the Department of Commerece employees were less eager to do so. The point is to delegate responsibilities to the employee that they can do better than their leadership, leaving the supervisor free for systemic and strategic production. After all the employee knows if it takes 3 days or 30 to accomplish a task, and if we should do the task at all because they are the ones who really knowthe customer. It’s not the system that makes the supervisor detach or avoid their performance management responsibility, that comes from their value system.

Jonathan Lang

I have to agree with Anne. Having an employee do all of the work to set their performance measurement is an insult to the employee and a dodge of responsibility to set vision and goals by the manager. The employee should be involved in defining the goals, but the manager should be responsible, and the goals should be aligned to the values and goals of the organization. Empowerment is about trusting the employee to take some risks as they work to achieve those goals, not making them carry the load of managing themselves.

Carol Davison

Thanks for your input. What I have described in this blog is the way best practice perforamnce management sytems (PMS) are designed in Federal and State governments. I learned by studying best practice PMSs when studying them to implement my organizaton’s own, and watching failures in ineffective ones. Trusting the employee to draft performance doucments in accordance with organizational goals and values in exaclty the position the employee, supervisor and organization want to be in. I can’t imagine a leader asking their employee to draft one without discussing organizaitonal goals and values to ensure they were incorporated in the documents. It also ensures the employee, who works most closely with the customer, is tasked to produce results for customers, and not with management’s busy work. I know that I want to assign myself customer serving work and believe most employees are the same. Supervisors would ensure organizational goals are reflected in the plan becaues they must endorse them for approval up the chain of command. Drafting perforamnce paperwork is a small part of perforamnce management and not managing oneself. Perforamnce managmeent is planning, giving feedback, giving feedback, giving feedback, developing, appraising and rewarding employeees, not just completing paperwork.

Carol Davison

I initally wrote this blog to address the many complaints people had about performance management (PM). Jjust like any system, it will not be perfect. PM is an attempt to objectivize a subjective process. Yes some supervisors are unethical, uneducated, or have higher standards. In the present economic environment we no longer have funds we had in the past, etc, etc, etc. We need to confront the brutal reality and do the best we can. Innovative means of leadership need to be enplaced including giving the good training, tdys, assignments, etc to the high performer or whatever motivates that particular employee so they are engaged. Engagement is a level of performance supervisors want to achieve in their workplace because it means employees work harder than they must to retain their position, or perform highly. It is not a threat to their employment. As a performance and development officer I believe that all employees should be developed as appropriate. However just like an effective coach, most of my resources go to my star performers. Years ago State governments rearched the cash poor place and inability to give our cash awards that the Federal government now is experiencing. They still have performance, and high performance because they worked on becoming learning organizations, implmenting best practices, and innovative leadership. You said that you had a state of the art PMS. Did you mean effective, or that it was electronic? Also, what would motivate you?