Performance Management Cartoon
At times, an individual’s performance may begin to fall short of expectations or fall below the expected standards. They may break a rule or a policy, behave in an unacceptable manner or miss important targets. All of these are examples of poor or unsatisfactory performance that need to be dealt with in some way.
It is imperative to address unacceptable performance as soon as it becomes apparent, before the situation deteriorates or the opportunity to address the issue disappears. If left too late, the options are often reduced to a range of ‘blunt’ tools (discipline, transfer or termination), which can prove to be extremely costly to both the enterprise and the individual in question.
In addition to obviously poor performance we also need to guard against performance mediocrity. Despite the fact that we rarely aim for mediocrity or average performance, we seem to achieve a mediocre outcome much more often than we would like. Mediocrity can be achieved by individuals, teams and even the entire organization by being over tolerant of low standards, accepting too little accountability and setting soft targets.
A culture of mediocrity can also be created very quickly as a result of ‘benign neglect’ by managers. An effective manager clearly does not act like this and recognizes that a culture of mediocrity is the enemy of efficiency and effectiveness. Therefore, managers should push both themselves and others to reject average or poor performance and stretch for higher standards and targets. Although this may mean challenging and even criticizing the existing efforts of people from time to time, as long as this is done constructively it will, in the long term, build team and organizational strength and performance.