How to get Continuous Performance Management in your Organisation

Maybe, just maybe, the language of performance is catching up with reality.  Of course we have to manage performance all year round, of course any successful organisation is going to manage performance on a continuing basis, just as they would manage money.

Continuous means what it says – manage performance all year round (not just at appraisal time).  And of course, there isn’t a single successful organisation that DOESN’T manage performance on a continuous basis, it’s just that some ways of recording performance through traditional performance management methods are out of step with what is happening in practice.

So… Three Cheers for Continuous Performance Management!

But what are we actually cheering?

At the heart of continuous performance management is the MANAGER and not the process, and a key role of the manager is to have regular, year-round performance conversations.

What does a regular performance conversation look like?

Throughout the year, the manager is:

  • giving team members frequent, useful feedback
  • guiding them on what they do, how they do it and how they could do more of it…or be even better
  • resolving performance issues as they arise
  • encouraging them to explore new and more effective routes to delivering their results, and
  • engaging them in improving the overall performance of the organisation

What a performance conversation IS NOT:

  • A specific problem solving session
  • A project update or general progress discussion
  • A work planning activity

(Though all these conversations are useful, important and need to happen – they should not be confused with managing performance)

Are your managers really having regular Performance Conversations?

Ask a group of managers if they have regular performance conversations, and they will frequently say ‘Yes’.  Spend some time exploring with them the principles and practice of managing performance and they will volunteer that they mostly manage tasks, and now recognise that managing performance is a different thing.

Continuous Performance Management is simply the embedding of managing performance into the daily practice of a manager, alongside managing tasks, outputs, budgets and other resources.

A simple concept?

Continuous Performance Management is a simple concept.  That doesn’t of course mean it is simple or easy to instil in the management team!  It requires HR and OD teams to re-think the purpose of Performance Management, re-design some of the processes and support, and create a will among managers to manage performance on a daily basis.

The pay-off for the managers is substantial.  Over time they will experience:

  • reduced stress
  • fewer long term problems
  • an easier relationship with their teams

The pay-off for the HR and OD teams is also huge:

  • increased professional respect alongside greater ownership of performance by the workforce

What’s not to want?

3C has spent the last decade advocating putting managers who have effective, frequent performance conversations at the heart of performance management.

So it’s great to see that these ideas processes and practices are finally being recognised as central to a successful organisation.

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