The Future of Performance Management

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Several years ago, as I was beginning to manage projects on my own, I was faced with a tough client decision.  It was nearing the end of the project and the client’s budget was getting very tight.  At the client’s request and because my company had done very well on the contract, I wrote-off a portion of our last billing to that client.  There was no justification for writing off several thousand dollars other than to keep the client happy.  What motivated me to make that decision?  Was it the right decision?

A few years later, another difficult decision came up.  I had the option of using two different team members on a project.  One was very busy and the other one had very little to work on.  Because of past experiences with each of them, I chose to wait until the busy team member had room in his schedule.  Both were capable of doing the work; however, the busy team member was much more efficient and would get the work done with less oversight.  What motivated me to make that decision?  Was it the right decision?

And finally, just a couple years ago I was faced with another tough decision.  I was supporting one of our teams in completing a project that was nearly overbudget.  The support I was offering may have been billable to the client and could have been argued to be within our scope of work. But it was equally critical to completing the project as it was in retaining the client for an upcoming project.  Because the project was nearly overbudget and because I was working hard to win the next project with the client, I did not bill the work to the client.  What motivated me to make that decision?  Was it the right decision?

As I think back on these decisions and other decisions I have made over my career, I wonder “would I make that same decision now?”  What influenced me to make the decisions I did at the time?  How did our company culture at the time influence those decisions?  These are deeply philosophical questions and there is much more to individual decisions than simply what your company culture drives.  However, as business leaders, it is important that we work on the part of that “decision equation” we can control. Monitoring and policing your team’s daily performance was once considered performance management.  This is no longer an option. Building the right culture is the only option! 

As you look at the decisions your teams are making, is your culture motivating the behaviors and decisions you want from them?  Are they making the decisions you would make?   Stay tuned as we discuss how to align your performance management system with the culture you want to create and discuss how to appropriately reward for performance when it is in line with your culture.

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