An adult conversation is critical to performance

Most performance management is ‘broken’ – it is administratively burdensome and often gets in the way of having an enlightened and honest conversation between the organisation and the employee.

In a recent edition of the RSA journal entitled 21st Century Enlightenment, Lynda Gratton gave her view on the important issues of work in the 21st Century.

She mentioned the importance of creating an ‘adult to adult’ relationship with employees rather than the more typical ‘adult to child’. This adult to adult relationship is one based on openness, trust and commitment making. This type of relationship is particularly important as a new type of employee, one motivated to manage his or her own career and progression, enters the workforce.

At Californian company Morning Star, all team members are self managing professionals. Every year each professional commits to a Colleague Letter of Understanding with their closest working colleagues.  Within these letters, each professional will make commitments about what they will do, how they will do it and how they will be held accountable. The employee takes responsibility for initiating communications and the coordination of their activities with fellow colleagues, customers, suppliers and industry participants. There is therefore far less pressure on managers to manage and enforce the process and individuals are motivated to gather feedback for themselves. As a result, feedback is much more likely to be accepted and acted upon.

This seems a sensible way to mend the broken performance management contract by encouraging adult to adult conversations across the organisation without heavy admin.

We are always looking for positive and revolutionary examples of performance management practices. Let’s help spread the word that performance management can be a good thing.