Eliminating the Static in Performance Management

"Breaker 1-9, breaker 1-9, do you hear me?" "Breaker 1-9, you are breaking up." And so it goes with performance management.

Supervisors are responsible for performance management. The best supervisors address performance willingly, especially when that performance is poor. "Effectively dealing with poor performers is more than a willingness to fire an employee, it’s recognizing employee needs for training early, distinguishing what can and cannot be trained, and provide assistance to employees, as is practical." Merit Systems Protection Board Report, "Poor Performers and the Law"

"Breaker 1-9, breaker 1-9, are you out there? I know you've got something to say but I can't hear you . . .too much static."

Static is the reason performance improvement efforts fail, the reason a manager will not support a supervisor's recommendation for performance based adverse action and the reason HR professionals across the globe lean back in their chairs, put their hands to their forehead and lament, "why?"

Managers and HR professionals are a pretty solid, sturdy, been-there-done-that group of people so what kinds of yet static cause them to shake their heads in disbelief? 

The list can be long and here are a few examples of static to start the bidding: 

  • Dishonesty
  • Disparate treatment
  • Changing performance expectations without explanation, or notice
  • Not notifying the employee (ever) there was a concern with her performance
  • Not reasonably considering the employees requests for additional training
  • Ignoring or discounting issues raised by the employee that are impacting his performance
  • Counseling employees over email, not meeting face to face, not documenting conversations when a meeting occurs, engaging in head to head confrontation, communicating with unprofessional content and tone, and delivering off hand or flippant remarks

Now, the bidding continues in the comments. Let me know what static you've seen in performance management actions gone wrong.

Performance management is one of the most important things a supervisor can do and it is essential that it be done respectfully and professionally from start to finish. Supervisors that are not able to do that may just find themselves on the other side of the desk.