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Performance management is considered essential for any successful organization, but how effective it is in practice may surprise you.

According to Simon Cooper and Jim Harter at Gallup, employees do not seem to get much out of it, and it may actually hurt some organizations. Gallup took a look at the state of performance management by interviewing top leaders and analyzing hundreds of studies, including its own database of more than 60 million employees.

The conclusion? “Today’s top talent does not want a boss, they want a coach. ‘Performance management’ must be transformed into ‘performance development’—an approach that focuses on growing leaders, not just keeping employees accountable.” To do that, Cooper and Harter say leaders need to better establish expectations for their employees and continually coach them.

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A Roadmap for Performance Management & Coaching seminar, March 20


For starters, only 14 percent of employees strongly agree that the performance reviews they receive inspire them to improve.

The data suggests organizations should review how they set goals. Only 50 percent of employees say they clearly know what is expected of them, less than half think that their official job description lines up well with the work they do, and a mere one in four think their manager is good at helping them set work priorities.

“This point cannot be overstated: When your managers and employees are included in setting their goals, they are more likely to be engaged, more likely to believe their goals are fair, and more motivated to achieve those goals,” the authors say.

The second part is to provide continual coaching to help employees achieve those goals—a minimum of meaningful feedback every week. Most organizations fall well short of this. Gallup data says only 28 percent of employees say they receive feedback a few times a year.

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