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Performance Management: Subjective or Objective?

One of the biggest responsibilities of a leader is performance management. Simply explained, it’s the process of making sure an individual or organization are achieving desired outcomes. Although this seems simple enough, the concept often comes a significant amount of stress, for both the employee and supervisor.

Let Go of the Past

It wasn’t until I was almost 15 years into my career before I became part of a team obsessed with training. Before this, every job I had ever had was largely “on the job training” or “trial by fire.” It was something I didn’t like, but had become so accustomed to this that I accepted this as truth even as I entered management role. So, when I joined a team that made training a priority, I discovered a whole new way to lead. I learned quickly that providing intentional training as well as having regular conversations about progress, made a significant impact in my ability to assess and develop my team. Letting go of the old mentality was critical for me to invest more energy into the things on the front end that would make everything easier in the end.

The Future is Process

Implementing a process like this often looks different because of all the unique factors of each business. There are many ways to approach performance management, but the basic steps are as follows:

  1. Set and communicate performance standards

  2. Document and implement a training process

  3. Create and schedule a plan for accountability check-ins

  4. Support and coach through individual needs

  5. Review regularly and modify as needed

Following this process allows a manager to have a plan that is the same for each employee you hire. Furthermore, by communicating the process to employees, they know what to do, when to do it, and what to expect as part of their job. That is why knowing these basic steps allows you to create something that makes sense for your specific organization.

Subjective vs Objective

The greatest piece of advice I received on this topic was to “take the emotion out of it.” These words are much easier said than embodied, but the lesson here was that emotions are the result of subjectivity. By following the process of performance management, everyone knows their specific roles and responsibilities. This allows both supervisor and employee to be more objective when talking about performance. One of my core beliefs is that practice makes progress, so I encourage all leaders to try this out and see what kind of impact it makes in your organization.


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