The 10 Elements of Positive Performance Management

Guest post from John Mattone:

The fundamental belief underlying Positive Performance
Management (PPM) is this: Leaders and their employees must strive to make
performance reviews complete, honest, and timely.

 As a leader, it is critical that you engage in crucial
conversations to let employees know where they stand at all times. In the
course of executing PPM, you should hold yourself to the highest standards of
character, always being fair and honest and never injuring a person’s sense of
dignity and self-worth. Ultimately, by holding yourself to the highest
standards of character, you enable your employees the free will to make
whatever decision that’s in their best interest, whether such a decision
involves recommitting to you and the organization or even deciding to move on
in their careers. 

 Clearly, by executing PPM with character, you also enable your
organization to exercise its free will to make the best human resource
decisions possible, whether they are decisions involving promotion, transfer,
discipline, and even termination. It is only as a result of leaders’ executing
PPM with unwavering character and purpose that an organization—your
organization—can lay the groundwork for achieving breakthrough-operating

What If the Truth Is Not Told?

I have coached countless leaders who, unfortunately and
unknowingly—even knowingly—fall into a very dangerous trap of underrepresenting
their employees’ performance (i.e., they tell them that they are performing
worse than they are in reality).  This tendency creates:

– Dissatisfaction: “They don’t understand me no matter what I say
or do.” 

Reduced Motivation: “Why try? My boss doesn’t appreciate what I

Reduced Commitment and Alignment: “Neither my boss nor anyone in
company cares about me or the talents I bring. Why should I care
about my
boss or this company?” 

– Voluntary or Involuntary Termination: “Enough is enough. I am
going to
bring my talent elsewhere.”

Of course, I have also worked with many leaders who make the
opposite mistake of over-representing their employees’ performance (i.e., they
tell them they are performing better than they are in reality). This creates:

– Coasting: “My boss told me I am doing great, so I’ll just cruise
along with my usual half-effort.”

– Perceived Unfairness: My boss is playing favorites, so why
should I commit?”

Problems Disciplining/Terminating the Employee Later: “What?
Poor work?
You told me last year right in this office that I was doing
great work.”

Clearly, beyond the need to hold yourself to a higher character
standard as a leader, there are significant ethical and legal reasons for
ensuring that you are executing PPM in a fair, honest, and objective fashion.

The Ten Elements of Positive Performance Management

There are ten key elements of Positive Performance Management.
The greater the degree to which you incorporate these principles, the greater
the probability will be of having complete, honest, and timely performance

1. Employee involvement: Objectives should be set with employee
in put. 

2. Valid performance criteria: Employees should only be rated on
the criteria/factors that determine success in their job. 

3. Year-Round Process: Employees need feedback on a regular
basis to optimize their performance. 

4. Proper Preparation: Both you and your employees need to
dedicate time
preparing for appraisals. 

5. Avoid Stereotypical Thinking: You must ensure that your
ratings are free of

6. Input from Others: Obtaining input from others (i.e.,
teammates, coworkers,
subordinates, etc.) can result in more accurate and complete

7. Consistency: You must send a clear and consistent message.
Your words
should not conflict with your body language.  

8. Rating Integrity: The final rating should be based on what
was accomplished
and how it was accomplished. 

9. Dialogue: Regular communication between you and your
employees is critical throughout the year. 

10. Employee Ownership: Because your employee’s name is on the
review and
his or her compensation and promotional opportunities are
determined by
the review ratings, employees should be entitled to a much
larger role in shaping their own review.

Emphasis should be placed on employees reporting their progress
to date. You and your employees need to focus on indicators of whether goals
will be exceeded or not met. If employees are on pace to exceed their goals,
discuss with them how to maintain their current performance level. It is
important for you to spend time on performance exceeding specified goal
standards. Many times, leaders spend too much time on performance that is below
a goal. If an employee is on pace to perform below a goal standard, work with
your employees to determine the causes of poor performance, examine solutions,
and agree on appropriate actions.  

John Mattone is widely regarded as the world’s leading authority
on the Future Trends of Leadership Development & Talent Management. In
2011, he was named by the prestigious Thinkers50 as one of the fastest rising
stars in the field of leadership development.