Perfecting Performance Management

Marc Effron

Here is an article written by Marc Effron for Talent Management magazine. To check out all the resources and sign up for a free subscription to the TM and Chief Learning Officer magazines published by MedfiaTec, please click here.

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Talent managers need not redesign the entire process, but instead simply chip away factors that cause the most pain.

Few talent processes are as powerful or as widely despised as performance management. The steps to align employees with corporate goals, coach them to higher performance and assess their accomplishments often elicit an unending stream of complaints from managers and employees alike. Talent managers should ignore the siren’s calls to eliminate the performance review, and instead create a process that’s guided by science, easy to use and features clear accountability.

Thanks to 60 years of psychology research, we have information to set goals that create higher motivation and drive performance. Science tells us that:

• More difficult goals produce higher performance: We increase our effort as a goal becomes more challenging. The old performance management maxim of “three regular goals and a stretch goal” doesn’t cut it. Today it should be four stretch goals.

• Goals motivate better when they coincide with self-interest: When we believe a goal can help us earn, learn or realize other personal objectives, we’ll be more motivated to complete it. This doesn’t mean employees should set their own goals. In fact, allowing them to do so can easily reduce the power of the first point.

• Fewer goals are better than many: The more goals we have, the less effort we can give to each. Science doesn’t tell us the right number of goals, but my experience is few of us have more than five truly important goals in any given year.

Many parts of the typical performance management system add complexity to the manager’s life without adding value. You can eliminate many traditional bells and whistles to make your process easier and more efficient for your managers.

• Encourage a one-page goal setting and review form: We can all agree it’s not about the form, but a complex, difficult-to-use form can poison the process for both managers and employees. The only form elements supported by science are a goal statement, metrics and a section to evaluate results. Anything else you want to include should be considered guilty until you prove it innocent.

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To read the complete article, please click here.

Marc Effron is president of The Talent Strategy Group and author of One Page Talent Management: Eliminating Complexity, Adding Value. He can be reached at



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