This post has been co-authored by Carlos Davidovich and Fran Sardone
Carlos Davidovich, Optimum Talent’s Neuromanagement Coach, and I have been discussing the upcoming event Reinventing Performance Management on June 21. We’ve been reading some of Deloitte’s publications and swapping performance review stories – misery loves company!
For Carlos, whose first career was as a medical doctor, this topic gives him a chuckle:
I studied medicine at a public university in Argentina, surrounded by scores of students in each class and almost no contact with the professors. The only chance to succeed and progress was passing the yearly exam. We were very curious about how other educational models were dealing with this situation (Harvard, etc.). As students we heard that Ivy League medical schools started with 100 students and finished with 100 students! Then we were told that in those schools, in those models, there were no exams. The professor/student contact was so high that a final yearly exam was not needed. When the learner was having difficulties, the issues were addressed immediately, so that learning could advance and the stu-dent could progress.
This ‘leave no learner behind’ philosophy reminded me of my past job at a university teaching and learning department.
Fran: Deloitte seems to be making the distinction between summative and formative feedback, concepts well known in education.
• Summative feedback is quantitative:
Your assignment is graded as B- or 73%. It’s a judgement about a past event fixed in time (like an exam), consequently the stakes are high.
• Formative feedback is qualitative:
Your assignment strengths and weaknesses are reviewed and discussed. It’s an appreciation of the ongoing situation by both parties. Since feedback gives the opportunity to improve perfor-mance, the stakes are low.
Josh Bersin of Deloitte does a great job of explaining the myth of the bell curve approach to performance management. Like the 100% final medical exam, force ranking doesn’t do anything to help people grow and perform better.
So here’s the question I have for Carlos:
Fran: In a higher education setting, I’m willing to receive feedback from a professor because she’s an expert in the subject I’m studying. Why am I willing to accept feed-back from a manager who might be senior to me in hierarchy, but not necessarily in professional or technical expertise?
Carlos: One of the key components of a performance feedback process is trust, in both directions. The manager needs to trust that the employee is right for the role. The employee needs to trust that the manager is competent and supportive. They have to believe in one another and cultivate a growth mind-set. Together they can work on the potential inherent in the employee to get the job done on behalf of the organization. The way to provoke this is by leaving the ball in the employee’s court – the work belongs to him. But the only way the employee succeeds organizationally is through regular, continuous, supportive dialogue so that he stays on course.
Can organizations actually change gears sufficiently to cultivate this type of environment? Time will tell.