By Paul Boston

How do you manage people and teams to achieve their best performance? Well, more than likely, you use a performance management system established to produce a good quality product and service while achieving a strong profit margin. However, these types of systems usually refer to people in a numeric manner: “That’s Jane Smith, she ranked ninth in all her areas of performance last year.” I am not sure what these kinds of performance metrics say about Jane’s performance or what she is truly capable of achieving, but far too often we go through this process twice a year in our organizations and that is what we call our performance management system.

As some of you know, Adobe announced this year they are scrapping their performance rating system, and I am sure there are many more organizations thinking about doing the same. However, the reality is, there will always be a need for some type of performance management system to capture an employee’s performance. The real question is, how are we encouraging, supporting, and tracking employee performance development? That fact remains that you can change the tracking methodology, but to experience great performance from your employees, you need a “living” performance development system. Just ask athletes whether they reach their personal best because of a performance management system or an athletic or performance development plan that enables them to perform at their best.

Here are some steps you can take to initiate a personal development culture within your organization.

The manager is the coach
In every organization there will always be some type of reporting structure where a manager has people reporting to him or her. For performance development to occur, a manager in our modern workplace needs to wear the hat of a coach. And even acting as a coach, that manager needs to switch from being a life coach to being a high-performance athletic coach to lead and develop his or her teams.

Thinking about a manager as a coach was once viewed as a “nice to have,” but in our new world economy every manager needs to be a coach for the people he or she leads.

Touchpoint meetings are a must
Some traditional performance management systems suggest touchpoint meetings between managers and their team members, but those meetings often never occur. It is no wonder employees dread the annual review process. For some it is the only time when they sit down with their manager to discuss anything. This might explain why employee engagement is at an all-time low worldwide. The question leaders in organizations must ask is, how well do they know their people? If they say not well at all, then it is time to start implementing these types of meetings.

I often hear from my clients that they do not have time to meet with their employees. Some employees say, “I can never reach my manager.” “Human performance” organizations use these one-on-one meetings frequently to develop their team members; and if you do not think you have time for these meetings, just look at the high level of employee engagement in these types of organizations.

Track your performance
If your organization is still using outdated performance management systems and you are looking for one thing you can start doing to change your culture, regardless of your position, then start tracking your daily performance accomplishments. The more detailed you can be, the better your performance will be. Human performance cultures that focus on personal development use tracking tools regularly during one-on-one coaching sessions and during the 6-month and 12-month performance reviews. It sounds simple, and it is. Start doing it for a few weeks and it will become second nature. And remember, great performance is made up of small wins.

Many people will agree it is time to scrap performance management systems; however, we will always need a system to track and assess performance. So take a good look at your existing performance management system and ask yourself what is working and what is not. Then redesign, adjust, or scrap the system altogether and replace it to ensure you have a performance development system with a solid performance management component that captures great performance.

PaulBoston120About the Author
Paul Boston is the president of Actus Performance Inc., a high-performance development firm. With an undergraduate degree in consumer behavior, Paul started his professional career working in the fast-paced and demanding world of marketing and advertising with Fortune 500 companies and organizations around the globe. At the same, he started racing at the elite level of triathlons and qualified four times for the World Triathlon Championships and started to discover performance similarities between his athletic and professional career. He then went back to school to study adult training and development, specializing in workplace performance skills. As an organizational high-performance development specialist, he works with clients to help them understand the fundamental performance values, attitudes, and skills people, teams, and organizations need in our ever-changing modern-day work world. For more information, please visit