The Failure of Results-Only Performance Management and How to Fix It

Recognize This! – Employees deliver more consistent results when you make clear “how” you want them to work as well as “what” you want them to deliver.

Do you know what your employees are doing when you’re not watching them? Are you confident they fully understand what you need them to do and are consistently delivering on that goal – even when you’re not around?

Even if you answer confidently, “Yes!” to both those questions, the reality of the answer is far more likely to be “No” if your management style is largely based on performance and results only (with little to no emphasis on how the work gets done).

Chris Edmonds brought this to light in research he featured in his Cool Culture blog:

“Leaders typically focus entirely on performance and results. They do not naturally emphasize HOW results will be accomplished, which requires defining what values and behaviors ‘good corporate citizens’ must demonstrate in the workplace.

“The result of this ‘performance-only’ emphasis? Blanchard’s research and experience indicates that:

  • Performance occurs most consistently when the boss is watching. Performance is inconsistent when the boss is not present.
  • Power struggles occur, driven by managers and staff, which creates a workplace of fear and intimidation.
  • The application of discretionary energy by employees towards goal accomplishment is rare; too often it is absent.

“… If a leader want a high performing, values-aligned team, that leader must create the foundation with clear goals AND clear valued behaviors.”

If you want confidence beyond a doubt that your employees are consistently behaving in ways that deliver the results you need – whether you’re watching or not – then you must make it very clear to employees what behaviors you value. Failing to do so will result in the deviant behaviors described above as well as others.

So how do you do that? Strategic recognition is the proven answer. Structuring your strategic employee recognition program around your company values – making your values the reasons employees are frequently and specifically recognized at work – brings those values to life in the daily work of every employee.

Let’s face it. Values like “integrity” – or even “innovation” – is a fairly abstract idea. Employees may truly want to be “innovative” in their work, but may not know what that actually looks like in what they do every day – especially if they’re not in R&D.

Make those values real and clear with specific messages of praise and thanks for demonstrating those values with specific, strategic recognition.

How do you manage? Results-only or values-based? How does your manager manage you?

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