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From Performance Management to Contribution Management: 3 Keys to Making it Work


How is performance management going in your organisation? If the emphasis is on assessment, it’s likely that employees and managers alike would rather avoid the whole affair. Who wants to judge—or be judged—and face all of the emotional fallout that comes with it?

Instead, John Slater a Senior Director, Client Solutions for The Ken Blanchard Companies, has been working with clients to approach performance management as a way to leverage an employee’s contributions toward organisation goals.

The subtle but important distinction between performance management and contribution management can turn a once-negative process into a positive “How can I help you succeed?” approach.

For this kind of partnering to work, managers need to have a few prerequisites in place.  Without them, you will continue to find yourself assessing and evaluating performance instead of working in tandem with direct reports to help them succeed. Think you are ready for this more positive approach?  See how you would score yourself in each of these key areas.

Well defined goals with a clear line of sight. Employees need to own their contribution. This occurs when they can clearly map their work to overall department and organisation goals and are empowered to take action.

Surprisingly, though, survey results of over 500 managers in our leadership development classes show only 20 percent of managers reporting alignment between themselves and their direct reports.  Without defined goals and a clear line of sight, people are left in the dark. Work becomes a guessing game where workers are on a need-to-know basis. This creates a dependency, not a partnership.

Identification of current development level. For contribution management to truly work, a manager has to be able to accurately assess the employee’s development level on a given task, identify what the person needs to succeed, and then partner with them on the proper amounts of direction and support.

Assessing these needs accurately requires identifying an employee’s current competence at a task and commitment to achieving it. Competence is the knowledge and skills an individual brings to a goal or task and is best determined by demonstrated performance. Commitment is a combination of an individual’s motivation and confidence on a goal or task.

Ongoing coaching. Once clear performance objectives have been set, the next step is to set up recurring one-on-one meetings to regularly monitor progress against goals. This time also can be used to problem solve roadblocks, change goals as business direction changes, and re-evaluate training and resource needs.

The one-on-one conversation is critical and allows leaders to leverage the competence and commitment of their people in an efficient way. A coach-style approach allows managers to connect with each employee, focus the conversation, develop an action plan, and review next steps and resources needed to succeed.

More Than a Name Change

It’s time to think differently about the relationship of the individual to the organisation. Instead of assessment and evaluation, focus on alignment of goals, identification of development level, and providing day-to-day support.

When it is done right, contribution management is much more than a name change. It is a complete rethinking of the performance appraisal process that offers managers and direct reports the opportunity to build their relationship as they work together on objectives and create a road map for success.

About the author:

John Slater is a Senior Director, Client Solutions for The Ken Blanchard Companies
working out of Blanchard’s Toronto, Ontario regional headquarters in Canada.

First published on Blanchard LeaderChat
10 September 2015