How many managers and employees hate the time of year where well intentioned conversations about performance turn into a threatening situation? Thoughts like: Do I say what is really on my mind? Why won't they focus? If they were more supportive... How can they think that?! It can consequently turn into a bit of a bland process or tick box exercise. or worse a period of time where either the line manager or employee starts obsessing about the meeting worried about how it will go and what will result.
An article by the CIPD, via its magazine People Management, suggested an alternative approach. To work in alignment to neuropsychological evidence. Typically most traditional performance management processes creates a threat response within people. This consequently reduces creativity, rational thinking and narrows the individual's view of their performance. All areas I regularly support my clients with, especially if it builds to more clinical issues such as depression, anxiety or stress.
The article looks at the appraisal process being driven and set by the employee, with them calling for progress updates with their managers throughout the year and the managers being provided the hard data quarterly to show which employees are on track and those who aren't. This also allows line manager to focus on getting the best out of their high performers, getting a better return on investment.
This process works as people respond to being able to set their own targets, responsibility and get more motivation. The employees and managers are given a broad structure to work to, so that their targets are appropriate; the employees are able to ask customers and colleagues for feedback in these areas for a 180 degree feedback which is relevant for them and adjust their actions accordingly.
The debate would be is an employee perspective of their targets going to meet the needs of the organisation? Having had experience in change management and knowing how hard top down culture changes are, plus how long it can take, I would suggest that if you have clear direction, expectations and rationale for these target parameters set to organisational objectives and culture, then cultural change, organisational buy-in, loyalty and the opportunity to identify new ideas is definitely worth exploring this change in approach.
The final benefit, which really reflects the solution focused therapy that I work with, it is that the employees and managers are looking for what's been a success during the year and building on that, rather than digging for and re-living the negatives, which demotivates, reduces confidence and likelihood of recapturing those creative ideas that drives your business to the next level.
For more information on this alternative performance management approach focusing on success the full article is here http://www.cipd.co.uk/pm/peoplemanagement/b/weblog/archive/2013/06/11/is-traditional-performance-management-counterproductive.aspx