I admit it. I’m an American. So there are some things I will never understand. Among these are snooker, Formula 1 racing, and World Cup soccer (or football if you will…). The game of soccer is simple enough. Almost all of us played it growing up, whether in an organized league, or with a battered ball on a vacant lot. Two teams with a simple desire – get the ball into the opponent’s goal as many times as possible. But the calculus involved in determining how your favorite team will advance in the World Cup takes a simple premise and turns it into something almost incomprehensible.
Does this sound like performance management to anyone else?
Somewhere along the way, the simple desire to have people understand what they should do every day to move their own career and the organization forward, and communicate progress toward that goal, became pretty complicated. There are plenty of reasons for this:
- Organizations with a command-and-control culture value the idea that information is on a need-to-know basis, and don’t see the value of telling workers anything beyond insert widget A into slot B.
- Organizations grew to become big and complex and global, making it hard to get a unified message across.
- Technology – designed to make things easier – often just automated bad process, getting us to the same poor results faster and more efficiently.
But does it have to be this way? Technology — particularly collaborative, social technology — may be one the innovations that saves us from convoluted performance management. Social media sites have given rise to self-forming organizations dedicated to a particular cause or idea or goal. We have seen developments such as:
- The #Boston Strong movement, which brought together people to raise millions of dollars for victims of the Marathon bombing.
- Protesters in war-torn countries organize themselves to combat unjust leaders.
The way to uncomplicate performance management is to foster transparency. Leaders within the organization have a clear responsibility to be able to articulate where the company is headed. Managers need to coherently translate these company objectives into individual goals and tasks. And everyone needs to work together to make sure that that they as individuals, and their peers around them, are executing on these goals. With transparency there’s no place to hide. You either get the ball in the net, or you don’t. And you don’t just try and get the ball down the field once a year; you work at it every day.
Brandon Hall Group research shows that just 22% of organizations say their performance management process does a good or very good job at aligning efforts with business-critical goals. So let’s change this paradigm. As a leader, manager or employee, what can you do today to clarify the goal, and move yourself and your team toward it? Hit me up in the comments with your ideas. If you can decipher the World Cup advancement process, hit me up with that as well!