One of the most challenging aspects of leadership is navigating the tension between achieving results and developing people. As leaders concerned with business outcomes, performance management is vital, and there is a constant need to drive improvement for better results. However, improving performance involves developing people; without skilled team members to drive business outcomes, performance can't improve. Leaders may hesitate to develop team members, sensing that taking the time to develop people may slow down results. How can you develop your people while also driving business outcomes?
It's important to understand that performance and development are fundamentally very similar ideas. Performance management—"getting stuff done"—is one side of the coin, while development—the acquisition of skills, attitude, and knowledge to "get stuff done"—is the other side.
Performance management is a four-step cycle that includes essential aspects of development. By integrating development into this performance management cycle, leaders can drive development and outcomes to maximize results.
The Performance Management Cycle
Step 1: Set Expectations and Goals
At this stage of performance management, leaders and team members will engage in conversation about expectations and goals for the position, project, or assignment. The level and type of conversation will depend largely on the competence and experience of the team member. Someone who is newer, earlier in a career, or less experienced will need more structured guidance and interaction throughout the cycle than someone who has a higher level of competence. Setting these expectations and goals up front will give clear metrics to measure outcomes so that no one is left guessing.
Step 2: Provide Tools, Knowledge, and Skills
Development primarily happens in steps two and three of the performance management cycle. Once expectations and goals are established, leaders and managers need to set up the tools, resources, or training required to accomplish the task. Again, the level of resources provided by a manager depends mainly on how skilled the employee is. However, even a skilled and experienced employee may have knowledge gaps, and an open and ongoing conversation about what development is needed can improve outcomes.
Step 3: Monitor and Provide Feedback
Steps two and three are almost a short cycle within themselves in that there is a constant flow back and forth between providing resources and monitoring and giving feedback. Much of the interaction in this step will consist of informal coaching—a conversation between you and your team member about progress and any necessary adjustments toward completing a task.
Step 4: Reward and Recognize
Don't forget this vital step in the performance management cycle—rewarding and recognizing people for their successes! Reward and recognition fuel ongoing enthusiasm and propel team members into the next task for continued high performance and comprehensive development.
By understanding that performance management and development go hand-in-hand, you can take your performance management to the next level and upskill your people for long-term growth.
- What is the difference between managing performance and developing people?
- What do those differences mean for my role and the people who report to me?
- What is the one thing I can do to better align performance management and people development?