EP 37: Positive Performance Management with Michele Haugh

Positive Performance Management

Performance management should be about having regular, open and honest conversations. It is an opportunity to learn how someone is doing, assess how they might progress to the next level in the organization and figure out how to improve a specific skillset in order to meet goals. In other words, it doesn’t have to be negative. To help us discuss this topic and dive into how to keep performance management positive is Michele Haugh, Co-Founder of EarlyHR Solutions.

What You’ll Learn In Today’s Episode

  • Why having clear goals in mind for your staff is key. (3:20)
  • The benefit of coaching and collaborative conversations. (7:15)
  • How to create alignment between your staff and your organization. (13:49)

Actionable Takeaway for HR Professionals

  • Be open to new ideas and drive your organization toward having conversations around alignment. (19:45)

Actionable Takeaway for Executives

  • Change what performance management means within your business by having frequent, honest conversations. (18:04)

Ideas Worth Sharing

“Performance management is not just about an annual, one-sided conversation, but it’s really changing more towards an ongoing process where individuals can work with their leaders and be aligned on a much more regular basis.” - Michele Haugh Click To Tweet

Resources In Today’s Episode

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Click Here for Audio Transcript

Traci Scherck: Welcome to talent optimization my name is Tracy Scherck and i’m the chief talent officer here at elevated like consulting and today we are having the most amazing conversation.

Traci Scherck: About performance management groan I know I know right but performance management does not always have to be a negative thing right so.

Traci Scherck: When we look at performance management we’re really looking at how every individual in the organization is fulfilled in their work and guess what you have to have accountability with that.

Traci Scherck: So we have an amazing guest on our show today we have Michelle Haugh on our show today and Michelle is with us from.

Traci Scherck: Early HR solutions and she is the Co founder there and early HR solutions provides personalized HR and employee engagement solutions to early and growth stage organizations so welcome Michelle.

Michele Haugh: Thank you so much Tracy appreciate it.

Traci Scherck: Absolutely, so when you first think of performance management what first comes into your head.

Michele Haugh: Well Tracy like yourself i’ve been in HR for a long time, and so, when I think of performance management.

Michele Haugh: You know, like a lot of folks that have been around for a while you do think of sort of that moaning and groaning around the annual performance review and you know and that that’s always had sort of a negative connotation and sort of a feeling of dread, but I.

Michele Haugh: What i’m really excited about is to see sort of a paradigm shift in that performance management is just not about an annual one sided conversation but it’s really changing more towards an ongoing process where.

Michele Haugh: individuals can work with their leaders and be aligned on a much more regular basis, and much less formal basis where the conversations around performance are not so scary they’re not dreaded.

Michele Haugh: Because it’s just a method of communication and making sure that everybody is aligned and on track.

Traci Scherck: awesome yeah and I totally agree with that that alignment that accountability having individuals on track and actually I was doing a training with.

Traci Scherck: An individual or an organization yesterday that came from a partnership with you and early engage and one of the conversations that came up was really around goal setting and when we have those goals in front of us, we can actually create much more accountable and meaningful work.

Michele Haugh: yeah absolutely I think again the you know, having those conversations and having some clear measurable goals is really, really critical because quite often what we’ve seen is individuals have conversations with individuals that are working for them, and if they’re if it’s not.

Michele Haugh: super you know you want it to be informal but there’s got to be some sort of formal organization around to having specific goals and.

Michele Haugh: You know, things that you’re tracking on which really helps to move the organization forward and achieving the goals that are necessary, but it also helps to drive that professional development.

Michele Haugh: that’s really critical to keep folks engaged and to ultimately retain them, because if you are just sort of plodding along and doing check ins that are just oriented to just project status or just updates on.

Michele Haugh: Immediate deliverables you really miss an opportunity to have a conversation around how you’re moving the needle in a in a more.

Michele Haugh: comprehensive way.

Traci Scherck: So i’m super curious, how do you structure those frequent conversations with staff that you know not only aligns the performance to what are the business objectives and outcomes of the organization, but also to an individual’s professional development.

Michele Haugh: So there’s really a multitude of things, I mean again if you keep these conversations somewhat informal you know you first really want to have a check in.

Michele Haugh: You know how, how is that individual doing, how are they feeling about their work, what are the barriers that they’re facing that are preventing them from being successful sometimes.

Michele Haugh: Individuals are afraid of mentioning challenges, because they’re concerned that that might be viewed as a weakness or that they’re not completely on top of things, but having the ability to.

Michele Haugh: Have those honest candid conversations where individuals can feel comfortable and feel trusted have that trusted relationship where they can share those challenges.

Michele Haugh: it’s then that the leader and the individual working for them can really work cooperatively to figure out a solution together, because the longer those things.

Michele Haugh: are not being addressed or not being discussed it’s just going to snowball and there’s going to be.

Michele Haugh: Really, a missed opportunity to kind of.

Michele Haugh: eliminate some of those barriers much more quickly and with an outcome of being much more successful a lot, a lot more quickly, so as far as.

Michele Haugh: You know, again I think conversations traditionally are very tactical and that’s great you, you certainly want to have tactical conversations when you’re doing one on ones and checking on progress status and.

Michele Haugh: You know projects and things like that, but also more holistically just as far as how people are feeling.

Michele Haugh: Are they feeling challenged are there, areas that they want to potentially get more exposure to.

Michele Haugh: Some of those conversations are also just really, really important, and if you have specific goals that have been identified that also just makes that process even that much easier because you’ve got something very specific that you’re discussing and tracking.

Traci Scherck: yeah absolutely you know in in in those one on ones, one of the key thing is that we’re really seeing based on the science and based on some of the results.

Traci Scherck: is really bringing coaching into those conversations and what we’re finding so often is that our leadership teams don’t know how to coach right.

Traci Scherck: Because, as managers and leaders we don’t have to have all the answers and yet when we have these prescriptive kind of one way conversations staff don’t always feel like they’re involved in that process, and it really is that two way conversation.

Traci Scherck: So i’m curious, how are you seeing coaching as a part of of you know performance conversations and a part of that professional development.

Michele Haugh: coaching is huge, but it is a two way street and so asking individuals to kind of self reflect, I think, is also really, really helpful because you mentioned.

Michele Haugh: Tracy that one way conversation you don’t it’s hard to have a true coaching.

Michele Haugh: Collaborative conversation if it is only one sided and you’ve got one person just leaving the meeting and just telling someone.

Michele Haugh: Their thoughts or you know here’s what I see here’s what you need to do and it’s one way that’s not going to be very productive, but if you ask an individual to.

Michele Haugh: identify, you know how they think they’re doing where they see themselves performing really well on areas that they may need help with in development.

Michele Haugh: It becomes much easier to have that dialogue and the coaching process becomes much easier because it’s more of a collaboration versus a one way directed conversation.

Traci Scherck: Absolutely, you know, in the coaching conversation like you said is huge and it’s focusing on the strengths, I just had a conversation with muysahni the CEO of predictive index.

Traci Scherck: On and he talks about the importance of coaching and coaching towards strengths in his new book called the science of dream teams.

Traci Scherck: And if you’re curious about that you can go back a couple of episodes and listen into to our conversation on the podcast.

Traci Scherck: But that you know this this coaching through the organization of really asking the questions of hey you know what we had this deadline help you know what happened right.

Michele Haugh: like that.

Traci Scherck: You know, is there, something that we maybe could have helped with and we’ve got these goals coming up over the next three months, what do you need in order to be successful, because so often, the fear in our heads manifests.

Traci Scherck: itself in really ugly ways that stops us from reaching our goals that when we step back and collaborate it completely changes the conversation the feelings that go along with it like you were just talking about and the outcomes that we’re getting.

Michele Haugh: Absolutely, I mean if a leader can express that they are there to help remove barriers or to help find solutions.

Michele Haugh: there’s going to be that element of trust, which is so critical and the more trust there is in that relationship there’s going to be a much higher level of engagement and, ultimately, a level of performance.

Michele Haugh: And that that’s just really critical in fact I just did an exit interview with someone yesterday, and although they were moving on to a new opportunity.

Michele Haugh: They just had the most wonderful things to say about the person that they were working for and and the I just found that so refreshing but one of the things that they just kept.

Michele Haugh: Repeating is that not only was this individual that they worked for really, really sharp from a technical aspect and they taught them and mentored them so much, but that they were.

Michele Haugh: really just a kind and empathetic individual and that they always just truly cared about how the individual is feeling and where they could help them to be more successful and so.

Michele Haugh: You know, having those just those honest conversations are.

Michele Haugh: really critical and when I see honest sometimes the honesty may not be positive, you know and that’s the greatest gift that you can give somebody.

Michele Haugh: In a relationship, whether it’s a work relationship or personal relationship having that honesty and not harboring something is really critical and we often see some of these issues crop up in organizations.

Michele Haugh: We do a lot of coaching of leaders in organizations that are managing performance issues and what we find is the where there is really.

Michele Haugh: Challenging situations is when they’ve sort of been beating around the bush, a little bit maybe trying to be too Nice.

Michele Haugh: And being Nice is in the end, not really kind because you really are not helping this individual by not being you know really truthful and realistic and so having those honest conversations, even if they may be tough or difficult, the sooner, you have them, the better off.

Michele Haugh: The, the results are going to be and it’s really just the feedback feedback is free and it’s the most powerful impactful component of a successful relationship so having those conversations early and frequently.

Michele Haugh: is really, really critical to having you know really great outcomes.

Traci Scherck: Absolutely, and you know what sometimes the organization is not the best fit for the individual right because we have to have staff inside of our organizations that are meeting the performance objectives and are engaged in the work right.

Traci Scherck: engaged in the work and meeting the performance objectives they’re not going to be one of those key champions and star players in our organization.

Traci Scherck: So we want to make them happy alumni.

Michele Haugh: We cannot actually.

Traci Scherck: Happy alumni without really honest conversations right feedback as a gift, as long as it you view it that way.

Traci Scherck: But we also have to approach it that way right like if we’re working with somebody that’s super super introverted we cannot spring something on them, we have to kind of send them something in writing that says hey.

Traci Scherck: we’re going to have a performance conversation here’s the three key points we’re going to talk about I want you to think about this ahead of time, so we can actually engage in that conversation right.

Traci Scherck: yeah for my.

Traci Scherck: My extroverted folks we you know we can just have a conversation, but we need to make sure that we’re meeting folks where they are because performance.

Traci Scherck: has a key impact on so many variables right it’s what’s my relationship with my manager it’s in my in the right job it’s.

Traci Scherck: Are we in a culture that aligns with who they are individually and am I, on a team where there’s trust and cohesion and collaboration any one of those things is off.

Traci Scherck: We could have bad performance and it’s not because they’re a bad person or they’re not great at something but guess what every one of us has created a perfectly the way we are, we are not created perfectly every job.

Michele Haugh: that’s right exactly that’s for sure.

Traci Scherck: You know, so one of the things you talk about on his self reflection and minimizing gaps between the manager expectations and employee performance, do you want to chat a little bit more about that.

Michele Haugh: Yes, absolutely so again when I think of performance management it’s truly about alignment and when there’s misalignment that’s when issues are going to occur or goals will not be able to.

Michele Haugh: be achieved because you’ve got a leader who has directives from you know the organization they’ve got organizational goals departmental goals and then you’ve got an individual who may or may not really truly understand those goals and how they fit and it’s really, really critical.

Michele Haugh: That there aren’t gaps between what the manager the leader is expecting from the individual contributor.

Michele Haugh: Because that’s just going to really create a lot of a lot of issues so it’s just critical that.

Michele Haugh: Those you know the expectations are very clear and that there’s an understanding that the individual has also done some self reflection to really understand.

Michele Haugh: Where they are performing and seeing if there are gaps, maybe they think they’re a rock star in a particular area and the manager.

Michele Haugh: You know, is not on the same page they don’t they don’t think that there are a rock Star and they need to hear some honest feedback.

Michele Haugh: Or perhaps maybe you’ve got an employee that is super nervous and they think they’re doing a terrible job and maybe they’re actually performing you know at a top level, but they just don’t have that awareness so having that honest conversation around where.

Michele Haugh: Where the expectations are and where that individual is fitting into those expectations is really critical and when there’s a misalignment it’s really, really hard to be a successful, you know as their.

Michele Haugh: As you could be.

Traci Scherck: yeah absolutely you know, and when we talk about that feedback, I mean 360 reviews can be so powerful because.

Traci Scherck: it’s then not just coming from you know that manager and there’s a ton of you know each PR articles harvest business Harvard Business Review articles out there, right now, and forbes etc.

Traci Scherck: talking specifically about how you know the look of performance management is really changing and how so often those annual performance reviews are more of a reflection of the manager versus the employee right.

Traci Scherck: So when we can pull in those 360 degree reviews and really calibrate what those reviews look like amongst the organization and remove some of those biases.

Traci Scherck: You know, along with ensuring we’re having that trusting ongoing honest conversation throughout the year, what we’re doing is we’re building a really strong relationship of alignment to the same goals.

Traci Scherck: yeah so.

Traci Scherck: yeah Thank you so much for sharing that, because it really does it reduces the gap between.

Traci Scherck: What the expectations are and what’s actually happening right and if someone believes.

Traci Scherck: There that key rock Star and they’re not in maybe that hey there a rock star one area but there’s all these other duties as assigned that are on top, that is not their strengths so it’s like.

Traci Scherck: You know we’ve they were alive and amazing in a head of full bank account when they came into our organization, but we killed them throughout the process, by giving them all these things that drain their energy.

Traci Scherck: And I think as organizations and leaders, we have to own our part of employee performance as well as that collaborative relationship with them.

Michele Haugh: yeah and sometimes those gaps are solvable maybe there are some things that can be just changed around or.

Michele Haugh: You know, there may be some things that are kind of low hanging fruit and then there are going to be situations where it’s just not going to work because the gap is too big and the individual just will never be meeting the expectations that are necessary for that particular role.

Michele Haugh: But sometimes there’s a there’s really a happy medium, and they just need that coaching and you know support to kind of move the needle in the right direction.

Traci Scherck: Absolutely so as we start to close our conversation for today i’m curious what’s one takeaway you have for executives listening in today.

Michele Haugh: Well, I would just say again, you know the performance management let’s kind of change what that means let’s not think of it as this painful year long yearly process.

Michele Haugh: and think of it more of just alignment, how do we stay aligned as a business and through our relationships with our TEAM members and the more that we are aligned.

Michele Haugh: The better we’re going to perform as an organization and the only way to have that alignment is to have frequent honest conversations.

Michele Haugh: And if those conversations are happening on a regular basis, and there is some structure around them, so that folks have some goals that they can count on.

Michele Haugh: working towards achieving there’s going to be a lot more success, so you know there, I know there are some leaders that are really, really great about.

Michele Haugh: Keeping those one on one meetings, having really productive meetings, and then there are some leaders that aren’t they get really caught up in.

Michele Haugh: You know other day to day tasks and maybe they get cancelled and then they get canceled again.

Michele Haugh: And I would just say that of course you’re going to have to cancel every now and then, but every time you cancel those meetings with the folks that work for you, it really sends a message that maybe you know that they might interpret is you’re not hearing or that they’re.

Michele Haugh: they’re not being supported in the way that they need, so I would just say let’s make it a priority let’s not make it overly complicated and let’s just focus on that alignment so those That would be my primary takeaway for executives.

Traci Scherck: And just make it.

Michele Haugh: Like I said, make it a priority.

Traci Scherck: yeah absolutely and what’s the key takeaway for HR practitioners listening in today.

Michele Haugh: I would just say again, maybe not be so.

Michele Haugh: You know, be open to new ideas, maybe stepping away from the old school form that people dread and really trying to drive your organization towards having.

Michele Haugh: This these conversations around alignment and you know, maybe ditching some of the old fashioned practices that just don’t work all that well and encouraging.

Michele Haugh: leaders to have those frequent conversations and if they don’t know how to have them, then as an HR person that’s an opportunity for you to add value to the organization to help make that process easy for them.

Michele Haugh: It doesn’t have to be you know, a five page document, there could be a couple key.

Michele Haugh: goals or conversational.

Michele Haugh: You know, talking points, but making it easy and educating and supporting your managers, is going to be really critical to drive an effective performance management process.

Traci Scherck: awesome Thank you so much for that, and if you are curious to learn more about early HR solutions, we will have their website and.

Traci Scherck: michelle’s linkedin profile in our show notes, so that you have that.

Traci Scherck: i’m Michelle will also be joining us for one of our upcoming live webinars within our talent optimization foundation programs for some very specific kind of tips of hey, how do you have these conversations, what does that look like.

Traci Scherck: So thank you so much for joining us in our talent optimization podcast and we hope that you have a fantastic rest of your day.

Michele Haugh: Thank you so much Tracy it was really a pleasure.