The Evolution of Performance Management

evolution of performance management
The Evolution of Performance Management

The Evolution of Performance Management

Up until recently, the terms performance evaluation or performance review where coupled with negativity, fear, anxiety, and stress. Mention those words in any office, and you’d be met with uneasy twitches, groans and a lot of eyes rolling; and not only by the employees, performance evaluations were known as gruesome for all involved, employees, managers, and top executives. Why? Well, for employees, they are often attached to raises or lack thereof, unpleasant surprises such as a loss of a job or demotion, or the added stress of additional objectives and goal to be met in the upcoming year. For managers, it meant unending hours of additional paperwork, critiquing colleagues and often friends, the stress of allocating demotions and other notifications. As far as executives, they recognized the inadequacies the system presenting in gauging past performance and improving future earnings, and cringed at the unequitable drain it made on their budgeted resources. Yet, for many years, companies were stuck in the same procedure of the annual performance reports that went a little something like this:


“Employee met expectations (check), rated excellent in service applications for the year (check) is recommended for a pay increase (check)”  or maybe it went, “Employee failed to meet expectations (check), did not reach annual quota (check), and is not recommended for a pay increase (check).”


You can rest assured, if you have worked for corporate America, you have been evaluated along these lines. And what value did it truly bring to the organization conducting the reviews? Probably not a whole lot. Yes, there should be clear expectations and employees should indeed live up to them. It goes without saying that holding employees accountable and having some type of auditing system is pertinent to the successful operations of a company. But, a much broader more evolved system must be put in place to truly implement a functional performance management system.


As the world is ever evolving, so too is the system of performance management. Its evolution has taken a complete 360-degree turn from all the paperwork with unending and judgemental check boxes, one on one evaluations, and critiques it used to consist of. There are new methods that have been implemented in many major companies that are indeed showing favor and positive results, focusing on new entities such as the emotional aspects of the employee and future potential of the employee.


Emotional Aspects

Scientific research has been published all over the news linking employee moral and happiness to productivity. What does that mean for the future of performance management?  It must now be a measurement of an intricate system of checks and balances ensuring all employees are content in their work environments, in all areas, at all times, not just the once a year during evaluation. Employees must have access to initiate conversations about their objectives at all times, the ability to request feedback often, and have the capacity and training to make adjustments to monitor and keep themselves on track without constant hounding from management. Furthermore, and of utmost importance to this new development of management, employees must develop trust and real relationships with their colleagues and managers opening up communication open both ways, lateral and horizontal. Trickle down management is on its way out. The future of management is in the teamwork with no barriers, eliminating the upper-level domination and uneasy feelings of “employee vs boss”, making the work environments less stressful, and in turn more productive. This is what needs to be monitored and managed properly.


With the aid of modern technology, companies are now able to take those archaic performance models and replace them to create happier, more productive work spaces. Performance management systems will now measure company culture, values and moral. With smartphones and simple apps, companies are able to manage and monitor employees by the simple touch of a button, instantly, instead of annually.  Performance evaluations are taken from multiple sources daily, even hourly. Social media type apps have allowed companies to maintain a constant level of feedback so that problems can be addressed quicker, and not fester and worsen over time. Management and executives are able to connect on a greater level than ever before to emotional aspects, creating better employee work bonds, thus a happier work culture.


Future Potential

With the traditional method of performance management, there was no concentration on what the future may hold for a particular individual. The annual evaluation focused mainly on previous work attributes and past accomplishments, and if they went met or unmet, the outcome was attached to compensation. However, studies are showing that this reward/punishment system is no longer a driving force in the workplace when it comes to maximizing productivity among employees. With a fear of reprisal, may employees actually hold back on decision making, risk taking, and creative gestures? Not the end results intended or wanted.


With the evolution of performance management, we introduce a strong emphasis on the future potential of each employee by enriching the work environment, and enhancing and utilizing the best qualities that each individual has. Creating the ultimate job environment that produces quality work through its employees thru training, meetings, one one ones, and any other viable connections.  It is not a wonder why big companies are actually spending millions on community trust exercises and training, to build strong foundations in their work force. They know the value of their employees and the importance of their ability to cater to their environmental work needs.


At this point, performance management has evolved to monitor an employee’s acclimation to his work environment, what possible trainings he or she could benefit from to ensure continual advancements, and what goals best suite their personal growth needs. The negativity component of the evaluation has been removed.


Bottom line

Performance management has evolved to more of a development plan. The future to success is not in singling out employee inadequacies but striving for personal growth, group cohesiveness, and a positive company culture. Many companies are even tying in health and wellness by providing incentives and initiatives to live healthier lifestyles in and out of work. Simple stress tests for the employees are a tool the performance management will soon encumber to monitor days and productivity.


A stressed, unwell and unhappy employee, will not yield the results a positive, healthy, happy one will.  The outcome of this rapidly changing and modified performance system? Reflections of the employee’s hard work, a real-time, reality-based way to measure value, fair and efficient for all involved.


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Louis Carter
Louis Carter is CEO and founder of Best Practice Institute, social/organizational psychologist, executive coach and author of more than 11 books on leadership and management including his newest book just released by McGraw Hill: In Great Company: How to Spark Peak Performance by Creating an Emotionally Connected Workplace. He has lectured globally in the U.S., Middle East, and Asia on his work and research in organization and leadership development and is an executive coach and advisor to CEOs and C-levels of mid-sized to Fortune 500 organizations. He was named one of Global Gurus Top Organizational Culture Gurus in the world and was chosen to be one of 100 coaches to be in the MG100 (Marshall Goldsmith) out of 14,000 people as one of the top 100 coaches in the world .