Lets start using performance development instead of performance management. Performance management is a topic being discussed frequently these days. However, I’m not sure that everyone has the same meaning for performance management. I have also been getting feedback that just the term performance management scares some people. I suppose performance management might sound too much like a performance improvement plan which tends to have a bit of a negative feel.

I have decided to start using performance development plan. I’m doing this for a couple reasons. Trading the word development of performance sounds a bit friendlier and supportive to most people.

I have experienced great success with the performance management process for many years. I was first introduced to a version of performance management very early in my career. The company I was working for at the time introduced the program and abandoned it within a couple years. I kept the bones and made changes and enhancements over the years and it became one of my most important tools as an operating executive and now in my executive coaching and consulting practice.

Fundamentally it doesn’t matter whether you refer to performance management or performance development, the key is your intention for using it and how you use it. I always used and encourage my current clients to use a quarterly formal review as a key part of the performance development process. The intention behind my reviews was and is about understanding where we are in terms of results against goals and why we are where we are so we can celebrate success and course correct to the degree that we need to.

I believe that if goals have been mutually set and agreed between the manager and the employee there is a very good change that each quarterly review will have reasons for celebration as well as opportunities for re-calibration depending on how big a stretch some of the goals were. These reviews are a time to carve out time for real conversations. I have found that in some cases there are priority shifts between reviews and in many cases the person being reviewed has accomplished additional unanticipated goals in the time frame as well. These things need to be documented. If there are targets that have been missed there needs to be a documented version of the conversion about the next steps necessary to get back on track. Projects completed over and above the plan need to be documented as well. One of the most enjoyable parts of these quarterly reviews is the discussions about what is really going on with the subordinate and how you as the boss can be supportive of what they want to accomplish. Are there additional tools they need or support with their development plan? These reviews should be scheduled with plenty of time to discuss whatever either the manager or employee wants to discuss.

In my view if your intention as a boss is toward the growth and development of your team it doesn’t matter whether it is performance management or performance development. However, I believe that just changing the name to performance development might change the way many people look at the process and perhaps it could change their intention as well.

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