The goal of a performance management program is to create continuous positive change. The idea is that everyone has strengths and growth areas, and that every role has ideal performance metrics. So in working to improve performance, managers are trying to help each individual work steadily towards those ideals.
That sounds pretty easy, right?
But in practice, performance improvement rarely happens in a smooth and steady way. As human beings, we learn through trial and error. We make mistakes, and hopefully we recognize them (or get feedback to help us see what we should have done). In other words we learn in fits and starts, two steps forward, one step back.
But if we’re not moving in a straight and steady line towards a goal, sometimes it can be tough to see that progress is happening at all. That’s why measurement is such an important part of your performance management program.
Take a Baseline – The first step in seeing progress is to establish a starting point – a baseline. Let’s say that a team member has been interrupting others in meetings and talking over them. Once you’ve had a conversation and agreed that it’s a problem, the next step is to try to change the behavior. But before you start to implement the change, start with a baseline. Does the person interrupt in every meeting? Five times or more per meeting? Whatever the base level may be, your first step is to document it.
Recognize the Behavior – Some habits are so ingrained, we don’t even realize we’re doing it. That might be the case with this situation. Before you can change how often something is happening, you have to see that it’s happening at all. Because you don’t want to embarrass someone when they are working through a change, you’ll need to figure out a subtle system that you and they both agree on, that allows you both to recognize and count the number of times they are interrupting.
Set a Goal – In our example, the goal might be that our interrupting friend stops entirely but since it’s a habit, it will probably take time. So rather than going cold turkey, the next step is to set a goal and work towards reducing it over time.
Reward Progress – Change is hard – make sure that when you see progress, you notice it and reward the good behavior. No doubt there will be some slip ups along the way, we all have bad days. But over time as you see the number of interruptions go down, you’ll know you’re on the right track.
Measuring progress is an important way to be sure that your performance management program is working. Understanding how to set goals effectively and give effective feedback are two important skills to master!