Recently I came home to find a note from my apartment management company warning people that dumping trash outside of the dumpster is prohibited. Furthermore, anyone caught doing so would be fined and continued infractions could lead to the offender being asked to vacate their unit. ALL CAPS and red text were used in abundance to indicate the intensity of the message.
On its face this makes perfect sense. You should absolutely not place garbage outside of the dumpster. Without question. It’s unsanitary and attracts rodents of varying sizes and ilks. However, the complex has 20+ units, several with multiple residents but only ONE dumpster and ONE trash day. In other words, residents aren’t equipped with sufficient resources to achieve the desired outcomes. This immediately made me think of – you guessed it – performance management.
We can talk all day about how the traditional performance management system/process is broken. Too often I’ve seen managers hold their direct reports accountable for outcomes they haven’t provided them with sufficient resources to accomplish. The needed resources could be in the form of money, time, training, assistance or equipment. Missing resources can even be the criteria upon which the individual will be evaluated.
“You seem to be having a problem doing your job. You failed to meet the standards I never explained to you or reach the goals we never discussed.”
“I know you told me multiple times what you needed to accomplish these goals and I never provided it, but that doesn’t explain why it wasn’t done.”
We have to do better. Performance management doesn’t just take place once a year when you do the formal evaluation. Or even twice a year. It is an ongoing process of communication, feedback and coaching. It is understanding what your direct reports need in order to be successful in their roles and providing them with the necessary resources. It is encouraging their professional development and utilizing their strengths. Too often managers think ‘performance management’ is a static function based on using a particular tool. Every interaction you have with your team falls under performance management. Listen to your people. Help them help you, themselves and your organization be successful. Set clear and realistic expectations and provide the necessary training and resources for them to be accomplished.
Don’t be like my apartment complex. You know you don’t want garbage (poor performance) strewn around the place. So do what you need to do to keep it from happening. Don’t wait until it becomes a problem.