The Most Important Word in Performance Management

Sections of this topic

    The most important word in your performance management strategy may be one that typically does not come to mind. Let’s consider a couple of the ways in which we encourage, teach, and train our leaders to improve the performance of their teams.

    Coaching and/or Counseling

    The words coaching and counseling in work performance have been used by different companies in many different ways. Some companies claim to have a true coaching culture where managers are trained to coach employees for performance. Other cultures or organizations may train managers to counsel employees when there is a performance improvement need. More often than not, I find that companies use the word coach when they are actually training managers to counsel or discipline. So these words are actually used interchangeably in many organizations and by many managers. However, there is a difference. Coaching requires that the one being coached is open and has a goal with a timeframe in mind. Discipline and counseling are usually something that is controlled by the company and the receiver may be resistant or may disagree that a performance problem exists.

    Training and Development

    So, someone in your organization has conducted a needs analysis and has decided that some or all of the employees in the organization need to be trained in a particular area. The topic doesn’t really matter in this case. So the company gets started on the program design. This can happen with an internal training or HR department or may be outsourced to a training company. That really doesn’t matter either. Regardless of who designs and facilitates it, the company has chosen the topic and has created the learning and program objectives. Employees are scheduled to attend because someone other than them feels that they need the training. Right from the beginning the employee has no control. And the scenario gets worse from there when they get to the training and the “trainer” spends the entire time lecturing or doing most of the talking. (Check out the training and development blog on this site for more on this)

    The common thread

    Have you figured it out yet? Do you see it? If not, go back and read it until you see it. You are looking for the word CONTROL. That’s right! The most important word in performance management is control. Who has it? Do you know what happens when employees have no control over their performance management process? They find other ways to take control and usually not in the ways you want! (Another fellow blogger has a great story about how an employee took positive control after a bad performance review-By the way, this is not the normal reaction)

    In future posts, I will discuss ways to give control to the employee in this process. What have you done that has worked?

    For more resources, See the Human Resources library.

    Sheri Mazurek is a training and human resource professional with over 16 years of management experience, and is skilled in all areas of employee management and human resource functions, with a specialty in learning and development. She is available to help you with your Human Resources and Training needs on a contract basis. For more information send an email to or visit Follow me on Twitter @Sherimaz.