The traditional process of managing employee performance does not always deliver on its intentions. The purpose is to motivate and reward employees, but motivation is intrinsic. External factors either foster or squelch motivation. So many managers are squelchers without even realizing it, and many times, it is not entirely their fault. Companies often impose rules so intensive and processes so complicated they can make an educated person feel completely inadequate, and they fail to capitalize on doing the small but valuable things that could motivate employees.
You would probably agree that performance management is often viewed as the “necessary evil” in your organization. It is the non-subjective way of figuring out who ends up at the top of the heap for increases and bonuses at the end of the year. It can be an arduous and dreaded process that yields the same end result that you might have achieved if you simply lined up your people and subjectively decided who should get what, and when not carried out correctly, it can be a lose-lose for the manager and the employee. I'm not suggesting that you go wild and dump your review process. It has merit, and documenting performance is important for legal reasons, particularly in the event that you ever need historical data to deal with an employee issue. I’m simply suggesting that companies should empower managers to get to know their employees beyond the formality of a process if they really want to motivate them.
So, what if performance management began on day #1 with a focus that was less about a person’s skills, knowledge and abilities, and more about what motivates them? You spend 40 hours a week with your co-workers - often more time than you spend with your own family - yet how many managers know much at all about what motivates their employees and what would make them feel excited about coming to work each day? The way in which you are attempting to motivate your employees might be squelching their motivation instead.
Finding out some very small but important things about the people in your organization should be the first step in the manager-employee relationship building process. This doesn’t need to be complicated. A simple survey can be incorporated into the new hire process to gather the data, and the results can be shared with the hiring manager. Here is a sampling of just a few questions that every manager should be able to answer about their employees.