Capitalist Note: I'm speaking at The Right Thing's customer conference on Thursday, where I'll be waxing poetic about some research I've recently conducted related to the use of values in company performance management systems, contrasted with the behaviors normal employees, high performing employees and managers actually would like to see used in these tools. Here's a hint - each group of stakeholders would like to see something different. With that presentation coming up, I'm replaying this post from last year...
Work with me a little bit on this post... I did a post over at Fistful of Talent a couple of days back called "Want to Define Your Talent DNA? Don't Waste the Values Section Included in Your Performance Review"... The premise of the post is simple: If a company truly wants to drive culture, they ought to put what they really value on the old "Company X Values" section of the Performance Review.
Unfortunately, it's usually soft things that are included in the Values section, and you have to watch that - even if you value them. For example, consider the competency "Integrity" that's often included in this section of the review. How can someone exceed your expectations regarding Integrity? Here's how the conversation around integrity usually goes when included in the performance management system:
Manager: I'm not saying you don't, I'm just unsure of how to measure what's meeting and what's exceeding...
Team Member: Well, I have high integrity. I deserve the exceeds and I'm a little miffed that you have me as "meets"
Manager: OK, give me some examples of how your integrity exceeds that of your peers.
Team Member: Well, I've never stolen office supplies from the company, or stolen anything large.
Manager: Have you ever seen anyone take something that didn't belong to them?
Team Member: Sure.
Manager: Did you report it?
Team Member: No, I'm not a tattletale.
Manager: Well, holding everyone in the organization to your high standards regardless of the consequences might be a good example of an "exceeds" in integrity.
Team Member: Well, that's not me. Wait! I've got one. You know how we'll waive the contract penalty related to early cancellation if they escalate their call or complaint? Well, I can't stand the inconsistency, so I tell all customers who call in how it works before they ask. You can't treat people differently, so my integrity makes me give that info to customers - it's the whole truth...
Manager: You won't report small incidents of stealing, but you'll cause our company to lose revenue based on your integrity? Really?
You get the point. Integrity is very important in every organization. It belongs in the mission statement and core values. You should talk about it as a company alot and reward the examples you can find.
But Integrity and its step-cousin, ethics, have no place in your performance management system. Why? Because they're impossible to give feedback to related to most employee's performance.
You don't know you have a problem with Integrity or Ethics until they're gone. Until there's a stench, a report or an explosion. When you smell the stench or see the explosion, move swiftly and take care of business.
Just don't set your managers up to fail with conversations like the one above...