The fact is people out there are continuously looking for ways to either better their performance management process or completely replace it. A lot of these suggestions highlight the importance of the contribution of managers in making performance reviews a success. I personally feel this is a very important topic as managers can make or break organizations. But it is not that simple, or a question that plain technology can answer. Simply for the fact that we are dealing with human beings here, be it managers or the rest of the employees.
What organizations need to realize more is that being a manager, especially as one walks up the ladder, is not just about managing work and people. It is about leading people. And the way this is done impacts organizations, employee performance, nice and engagement levels. We have all read and experienced bad managers and how they can ruin cultures. We also know that if managers are not held accountable and monitored for their contribution to employee development, it can turn out to be quite a risk.
While all this is true and cannot be denied, what organizations are probably failing to acknowledge is that these managers also need to be trained in the very same regard. It almost feels like it is taken for granted that every professional in a managerial position will somehow know how to lead his team effectively. So the question that needs to also be asked along with manager accountability is – How much are organizations actually looking into making their managers understand concepts such as accountability and leadership?
In a study by CEB in 2015 about the general satisfaction level of performance reviews by employees, managers and HR professionals, one of the managers from Adobe Systems Inc. described their then performance management system as a “soul-crushing exercise.”
This study highlighted how managers themselves are unhappy with the way they are asked to deal with the performance management processes. In this survey, a group as large as 95% of managers reported to be dissatisfied with the way their companies force them to conduct employee reviews.
Organizations also need to see if their managers are even happy or in consent with the performance management system. Managers are the most hard pressed for time, and things like frequent check ins with all team members, weekly meetings, coping with the stress and time management issues with all this needs to be seriously looked into. The process needs to be simpler not just for other employees, but for management as well. It is almost unfair to expect so much without proper guidance or setting up a proper system in place.
And it is not just the direct manager who needs to be accountable. Managers, HR, talent development executives and most importantly, leaders – all need to work together in order to recruit, develop and retain the best talent. The relationship between these stakeholders needs to be transparent, well structured and requires commitment from every one. Be it setting up goals for employees, or looking at new tools and processes to manage performance better, everyone needs to be in the loop.
Most importantly, managers also need to be coached and offered the best strategies so that they can manage the burden of leading their own teams with the right kind of knowledge and guidance. They also need frequent guidance, and they also want their lives to get easier. Every organization is different and there cannot be a one size fits all approach. But what can be done is to create a system where everyone is treated fairly, and given a true chance to be the best versions of themselves.