From the Blog

Why traditional performance management fails to deliver?

Is your organisation tied to the idea of holding performance management reviews with your team once or twice a year? It might be time to consider if your reviews are delivering on their good intentions.

Traditional performance management takes a top down approach that often focuses on an annual appraisal. It’s a model that’s used by many businesses and it appeals because of its ability to tie performance goals to an organisational strategy. It also is seemingly easy to implement – assess staff based on performance goals, set associated training objectives and quickly wrap up an often-awkward conversation.

However, research suggests that traditional performance management doesn’t work. 54% of employees in a global survey by McKinsey said that their performance-management systems didn’t have a positive impact on either their performance or the company’s.


The problems with annual reviews

Annual conversations

Many staff members create a plan with their leader but only review it at the next review in a year. By the time you get to the next review, it’s already too late to take corrective action. Development is an ongoing process…. That requires ongoing support and discussion.

Short term bias

Annual appraisals mean that more recent events are more likely to inform a manager’s judgement about an employee. Real-time feedback, more often will deliver better results than a once-a-year conversation.

Spotlights the individual rather than culture

Culture drives performance and many organisations are now focusing more on the culture rather than individual performance. Afterall, a good culture can drive performance, but a poor culture can mean that ‘good’ performers leave.

Top down effect

In most organisations people work in teams and a culture that celebrates team performance often delivers great outcomes. Creating a collaborative culture where people feel empowered to help and give feedback to each other on a regular basis will deliver better results than waiting for an annual review by a senior team leader.

Contrast and compare

In many traditional performance development programs, managers assess people in comparison with other people. This means that people aren’t being measured against the job they’ve been hired to do.

First impressions and the halo/horns effect

First impressions count, but team leaders can use those initial judgements about a team member to inform decisions about their performance. Similarly, generalisations about an employee’s performance in one area can inform other areas of their job.

The problem with ratings

Managers can be inclined to rate people in the middle of a scale. A higher or lower rating might accurately reflect actual performance but there’s often a tendency to sit in the middle. Alternatively, some managers, for a variety of reasons, may rate everyone either higher or lower than their performance warrants.


Create a culture of collaboration and coaching

Implementing people development that delivers

McKinsey found that employees themselves see coaching from their managers as effective and believed that their organisation performed better when they adopted these programs:

  • 74% of respondents said that their organisation’s performance management system was effective when managers coached employees, and,
  • 62% said that their organisation’s performance was better than their competitors when their organisation system used coaching to develop staff.

(Source: McKinsey, Harnessing the power of performance management)

Embedding a culture that focuses on collaboration, and, instils regular coaching and development as part of the workday experience will deliver results.

Changing habits is hard

As anyone who has abandoned a new year’s resolution to exercise more, eat better, or learn a new language knows, changing habits is hard. People often expect immediate results and without those immediate wins and without support, it’s easy to fall back into the comfort zone…. by February those well-intentioned resolutions are a distant memory.

But with a good coach and ongoing support, people can shift entrenched habits and learn new skills.


On-the-job learning

Sticking with a new program can be difficult but there’s proven ways to improve performance.

With traditional performance development programs most of the focus happens outside of the everyday work experience. And without dedicated support and focus on development, people can quickly forget about both the goals and their training. Falling back into the comfort zone.

But, by keeping the focus on the behaviours where they matter – on-the-job – you can set people up for success.

The 70:20:10 model

The 70:20:10 model shows most of what we learn for work, we do at work. In fact, the model is based on the principle that:

  • 70% of learning is done by working, such as undertaking new tasks or responsibilities, reviewing and reflecting
  • 20% of learning is done through social learning, such as collaborating with colleagues, and giving and getting feedback
  • 10% of learning is undertaken in a formal way, such as through courses, workshops and seminars.

By using this model organisations can capitalise on formal training programs and see ongoing results. For example:

  • team members may receive training in a new skill and then use those skills when given new responsibilities
  • people can practice best behaviours in a workplace setting,
  • social feedback can be provided as teams collaborate on projects, and,
  • regular coaching conversations can support team members and drive behaviours.


How YakTrak can help

YakTrak supports on-the-job coaching, and it can help your business, by:

  1. Developing a consistent cadence for people development. YakTrak helps to set up a rhythm that keeps people development in focus.
  2. Keeping the focus on where it matters. Establishing, and working towards goals in a sustainable way delivers sustainable results.
  3. Empowering team leaders to be great coaches. YakTrak enables team leaders to improve their coaching skills by setting up a cadence and framework for coaching conversations.
  4. Empowering team members to take ownership of their own development. Team members can see where their performance has shifted and celebrate their successes.
  5. Embedding performance development. When everyone in a team works with YakTrak, you’ll be able to embed culture change and coaching across a workforce.
  6. Keeping everyone accountable. By tracking and measuring results you’ll be able to see where you can celebrate successes and find areas for improvement.
  7. Providing an early warning system. Gaining higher visibility of the quantity and quality of leadership interactions provides an early warning system when change initiatives are going off the boil enabling you to step in with targeted interventions early.

Read more about our employee development solution or get in touch with us today to find out how we can help transform your performance development.