Performance Management: Is Employee Performance Truly Measured?

When it comes to performance management I believe organizations have the wrong idea when measuring performance. Performance should not be measured on goals alone while holding mid-year and end of year discussions with management. During my time of exercising such performance plans has not shown an ability to focus on where skill sets and understanding “true” job performance actually stands. Based on my personal observations and experiences in both public and private organizations there are many gaps which exists in measuring employee performance. To measure an employee’s performance should involve more than just documentation of goals based on SMART methodology but should include an actual reflection into employees’ skill sets and capabilities to actually function in their roles. So many times I’ve listened to and witnessed employees who look to be promoted and/or receive pay increases to a point where they become disappointed because those desired raises are not a reality and promotion is given to those whom are believe to be less deserving. In spite of employees stating a complaint about their longevity with the organization and acceptance of corporate norms, fair gain to succeed through monetary gain or promotional aptitude is willfully ignored. What I propose is a better opportunity for employees, managers and organizations to ensure a fair hand is dealt across the board when it comes to performance management and ensuring those who look to be promoted and/or receive raises are fairly rewarded.

My proposal would be to include a testing system which tests employees skill sets through application and knowledge on basic software tools and decision-making scenarios. Implementation of such testing system would provide a clear picture of data to management on how their employees are truly performing and not just whether or not they are reaching SMART goals alone. So how can management really measure performance to understand if there is actual growth and progression if there is no data to enlighten if growth and progression is actually taking place? Growth and progression offer an important concept when it comes to whether an individual is prepared to go the next level or if additional coaching is in fact needed. In reviewing our education system we can see students are measured by their growth and progression and once they have shown their ability to master a grade level a promotion to the next grade is awarded. My impression is the same should be offered through organizations to help ensure those who are growing and progressing retain some sort of promotional and/or financial award while offering more coaching to those who appear to lack growth and progression. I’m not in disagreement with applying SMART goals through performance management but I do believe in formulating a clear picture of data for management to view and read in order to make better determinations and decisions when it comes to performance measurement and discussions. It is not enough to just say someone deserves a promotion or salary increase based upon their likeness by management but it is worth more to know that a promotion or salary increase can be leveraged to an individual who shows mastery in skill sets and decision-making. This is especially important for those who choose to advance their careers and not remain complacent. I know I’m not alone when I see how many times I’ve witnessed employees gain offers to management roles or promotions to higher level positions based on who they might know or how good they sell themselves. Of course selling one-self should not be frowned upon, but do they actually possess the skills their trying to sell? However, there are some individuals who truly deserve the right to occupy various roles because they’ve put in the work and effort to earn the position. But when looking at a large portion of the individuals who appear in some way to be unqualified which is identified in work ethic or knowledge base, one must ask themselves how has this person been offered such an opportunity when their skill sets and decision-making capabilities appear to be flat-lined. To be fair I would not place all blame on the employee alone but there is much blame to go around and the organization holds a big bulk of it. Accountability is a key component to ensure employee performance is truly measured and now is the time for organizations and senior management to take notice.

In today’s society, organizations are finding themselves going through organizational changes while formulating collective strategic management decisions when it comes to various departments and/or roles. We can agree much of these changes are based on a change in the wake of competitive advantages. Because of these changes employees are faced with having to redefine career paths and layoffs. Unfortunately many employees find themselves unable to attract or become gainfully employed simply because their previous employer failed to equip them with the skills and knowledge base to move forward. This is a clear indication of why it is so important organizations and management be held accountable to ensure a testing system is aligned with measuring performance. Implementation of this testing system will add a benefit value to performance management, increase employee development, drive feedback and conversations while achieving results through return on investment (ROI). The motto for educating our children is “no child left behind” when it comes to learning development and promoting them to the next level, so why can’t we have the same motto for employees concerning their career development?