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10 Errors Leaders Make in Implementing Performance Management Systems (And How To Avoid Them) – I



Dr. Abiola Salami

Effective mid-year reviews are key to ensuring that team leads and team members are on track to meet their goals, in the quest to reach their full potential. By providing an opportunity for everyone to reflect on their journey and progress both individually and collectively, mid-year reviews can help discover areas of strength and improvement while also motivating and empowering everyone to do better through constructive feedback and re-aligning objectives, so as to truly excel in their roles. 

Designing and implementing performance management systems are two different things even though that shouldn’t be the case. It is therefore possible that a well-designed performance management system could still fail owing to poor execution. The what is the design, the how is the implementation. Leaders must then possess the business acumen and emotional intelligence to navigate the delicate space such that the expected productivity is not sabotaged. Here are some of the errors that leaders make in implementing performance management systems.

  1. An Inability To Sell The Corporate Vision

Without a vision, there is no basis for an organization to exist in the first place. Everyone in the workplace should be inspired and coalesce around the big picture, they must know why they do what they do and how much it contributes to the endgame. If that vision is not communicated in plain terms, it would be difficult, if not impossible to inspire action. Everyone in an organization should be singing from the same hymn book; leaders who don’t do this well are laying the ground work for failure. A performance management system by itself doesn’t guarantee success, it must be sold to employees in a language they can understand. 

Successful leaders understand the concept of shared goals. Leaders must continuously develop their communications skills. There must be a communication strategy such that those who have been trained or assigned specific tasks should be able to show by their actions and say in their own words what they understand by the organization’s goals and their part in it. Whether good or bad, team members need to know the changes that are going on in an organization and how it affects them.

  1. Focusing Heavily On Vanity Metrics

Many leaders in an effort to make an organization look good, tend to project the non-essential indices of the performance management system instead of the elements that actually move the needle. This usually happens for the following reasons: trying to look good for external stakeholders such as investors, customers, regulators, host community etc. This use of misleading data or information doesn’t reflect the true nature of things. Second, when a manager is trying to save his or job, there is a huge tendency to misrepresent the objective outcomes before higher-ups. Finally, when a leader is trying to protect underperformance by his or her subordinates, it then becomes difficult to learn because the true data has been masked and those who have dropped the ball get a free pass.

This can be corrected by using objective metrics and core variables that truly show the state of play. Leaders should also be above board and not allow office politics and self-interests to cloud their sense of judgement. No employee should be above rebuke or scrutiny, else a sense of entitlement would become entrenched and those employees actually putting in the work would be demoralized and all these leaders to under-productivity.

  1. Not Reinforcing, Recognizing Or Rewarding Productivity (Enough).

Success is intentional; it’s hardly happenstance. Therefore, if a team member is productive, chances are that he or she is doing something deliberately to achieve that desirable outcome. Going back to Maslow’s Theory of Needs, people want to feel important – it’s a valid need. In implementing performance management systems, leaders must know that productivity is a desirable outcome and if they want more of that, they must model to the rest of the team what happens to people who understand the assignment. 

Rewarding productive employees should be strategic; whether it comes in the form of a pay-raise, promotion, opportunities for career advancement, more flexible terms of employment, bigger compensation package or even a public acknowledgement. Leaders must be conservative with criticism but profligate with praises.

  1. Micro-managing People

Performance management systems doesn’t mean putting employees in a straitjacket; rather they provide guidelines and broad expectations of what is required of them. Without creativity and having the freedom to express their ingenuity, employees will not be as productive as they can be. Leadership requires trusting people to do their jobs after investing the right resources and information in them. There would always be a place for monitoring and evaluation but employees must be allowed to take ownership of what they do. Nobody looks forward to resuming every day at a workplace where the manager constantly shouts them down or baby-sits them. If a leader feels that a particular employee is dropping the ball, there are more appropriate ways to address such issues.

Leaders should give their subordinates the gift of delegated authority. People will not grow if they are not given opportunities to showcase their talent. The span of control for a leader should be relative to the ability of employees to take responsibility for their assignment. The more employees show leadership potential, the less leaders should ease up on supervision. The supervision can evolve to be more strategic, where a leader becomes a leader of team leaders instead of directing monitoring.

Next week, we will continue with the final 6 errors and how to avoid them.

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To further position your leaders for peak performance, you can download a free copy of the latest edition of The Peak Performer Magazine You can also enrol your Mid-level  Leadership Team for the Made4More Accelerator Program and your Senior Leadership Team for the Dr. Abiola Salami International Leadership Bootcamp 2024 We also have an upcoming training for leaders in public service 

About Dr. Abiola Salami

Dr. Abiola Salami is the Convener of Dr Abiola Salami International Leadership Bootcamp and The Peak PerformerTM. He is the Principal Performance Strategist at CHAMP – a full scale professional services firm trusted by high performing business leaders for providing Executive Coaching, Workforce Development & Advisory Services to improve performance. You can reach his team on [email protected] and connect with him @abiolachamp on all social media platforms.

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