Why we need real-time performance management

By Muffy Churches

Are your performance appraisals a rushed nightmare at end of quarter?  Do the automated email reminders send shivers through the ranks?  Is the rising tension palpable, with managers and staff alike on tender-hooks?  And…to add insult to injury, do you sense that the whole process is actually ineffective and counter-productive?

If your answer is a resounding “yes” you’re not alone, and are one of a growing crowd who understand that the old formal stand-alone review system is not ideal.  Over the years, our traditional methods, with scales, forced rankings, and checklists, have been proving themselves to be unproductive and an organization that continues to view performance management as a cyclical event focused solely on appraisal does so at it’s own peril.  The degree to which a company is able to grow, develop, and recalibrate performance levels on a real-time basis will be directly reflected in its business results and attrition rates.

Replacing the anxious last minute review as the sole means of evaluation is, the more engaging and fulfilling  ‘real-time conversation culture’.  This process requires managers to be adept at coaching and collaborating with direct reports through the constant provision of developmental tips, strategic direction review, and goal reassessments.  Are they working on the right things, are they getting the right things done and in the right way?

This approach is not without its challenges.  Managers must become adept at both solution focused coaching techniques, and graceful, constructive feedback.  They must be willing to become more ‘people’ focused, and less laptop practical.  They must understand the direct connection between attention paid to individual development and team results.  As well, HR and management must both be willing to apply the time, effort, and budget to the requisite leadership training that will bring this tactic to fruition, but the results will be tangible.

Here are 3 reasons why RTPM wins in spades over classic, more formal, quarterly reviews:

1. Improved Employee Engagement

When managers are available and present to interact, coach and develop staff ‘in the moment’, employees feel an enhanced sense of connection, belonging and support.  They report feeling less like invisible cogs in a wheel and more like viable, valued contributors to their team.  They sense being ‘seen and heard’ by their superior and are more likely to envision a future with the organisation.  Attrition rates lower, as staff find less reason to move on to a more caring, nurturing environment.

2. Enhanced Leadership effectiveness

With a mindset that immediacy and presence play an important role in the success of team outcomes, managers discover the value of being able to have their finger on the group pulse. They are able to pre-empt issues before they have a major impact and solve problems with staff as they arise.  As opposed to being the issue escalation ‘go-to’ a week down the track, they now have the capability to nip glitches in the bud. 

In addition, there is enormous feedback power in the ‘relevance of the moment’- A leaders constructive coaching suggestions are more readily accepted and applied when a scenario is fresh.

3. Increased Business Results

An organisational culture of continual employee growth & development is a powerful contributor.  With ‘in the moment’ focus on progressing staff skills, attitudes, and capabilities high-performing teams are generated, as staff cultivate their professional ability on a daily basis.  With a leader’s finger on the real-time pulse, there is greater potential for plump pipelines, loyal customers, and fully engaged employees.

Expenditure on training leaders to become real-time performance managers should be viewed as an essential investment, rather than a hefty cost.  Formal assessment still has its place as an annual requirement, but the real magic needs to happen per diem.


Muffy Churches is the author of Coach Yourself, A 7-Step Guide to Personal Fulfilment (Love & Write Publishing).  She works as executive coach, leadership trainer, speaker, author, and counsellor.  Muffy has extensive experience in inspiring and initiating positive behavioural change in clients around the world.  For more information visit www.muffychurches.com or contact [email protected]



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