Good communication may help to allay many concerns and reduce resistance. It promotes faster acceptance of new internal rules. The main message that managers can communicate is “you can trust us.” And that trust must be justified, of course.
For management to win the trust of their employees and colleagues, they need to deal with resistance gracefully. As professionals, managers need to understand that resistance is completely normal. The introduction of performance management will inadvertently produce some kind of threat, which blocks a positive attitude.
Nine sensitive areas of the comfort zone
- Reward and legal status
- Status and image of the work
- Room to maneuver and influence the workplace
- Development and career opportunities
- Job content and quality of work
- Continuity of employment
- Workplace location and design
- Resources for the work execution
- Security in the workplace
Normally, when people go to work, they are in a comfort zone. They feel comfortable with the way they do their work with the security derived from their work and also with the way they are/are not held accountable for the results of their work. They’re naturally interested in their work, as it provides security. In other words, their work offers no unpleasant surprises. Employees know exactly how to read the informal rules of the performance management policy. However, introducing performance management and working with indicators change those rules.
Confrontation between the new rules and the comfort zone
The new rules sometimes collide with the comfort zone head-on, which results in frustration and resistance. Without having realized it, the comfort zone proves to have very sensitive areas. Employees dig their heels in. How can managers both have their staff accept performance management and stay within their comfort zone at the same time? They have to ensure security and prevent employees from feeling incompetent. They must successfully pass a test that is taken by their employees.
Employees Test Questions
Introducing performance management will increasingly make employees have a critical eye on what all these beautiful plans would mean for them. Some questions play in employees’ heads, assessing whether they can trust the leadership:
- ‘How harmful can it be? ” or: management must ensure security.
- “Do they hear me?” or: the managers should give me some autonomy.
- “Will I succeed?” or: management must ensure that I do not lose my skills.
Employees use these “test questions” to assess whether the introduction of performance management or business intelligence remains ‘manageable’ for them. This involves the question whether they dare to take ownership or not. If they do, this would give them a feeling of security. Thus, managers have a two-fold task: to ensure that the organization is in control, but also to achieve that their employees feel in control. In this article, we will discuss the first test question, the other two test questions will be covered in a subsequent article.
Test Question 1: How harmful can it be?
This question is for testing specific behavior of the leader: does the leadership provide security? Here, security means feeling safe, psychological well-being. How can leadership provide this security? By immediately pulling out the sting, by explaining in plain language which figures are present in the dashboard and what role they play in the assessment of individual performance. However, as the context shows, there are more opportunities to provide security. The main cause of insecurity is uncertainty about the reward and assessment of performance. That is why we’ll focus on preventing uncertainty.
Improving psychological well-being
- Clarity on the performance measurement
- Clarify performance-related incentives (if any)
- Consistent behavior of the leadership
- Positive perception of the leadership in performance management
- Leadership that demonstrates trust
- Involve employees in the establishment of their own department’s dashboard
- Formulating rules of ‘how to deal with indicators’ in a team
- Employees draw up action plans
- Evaluation of practical experiences with coaches
- Presence of role models that lead by a good example
- Conducting a training course on performance management
Misunderstanding about the assessment system
It’s a common, recurring misunderstanding when people think that the conventional assessment system should be abolished and that they now only need to look at the numbers on the dashboard. That is not true. The key performance indicators are factual and describes the progress made in a particular area and must often be attributed to a team or to a department. This can also be included in the individual assessment, but the effect that the person has had must also be determined, as well as any potential influence that was possible, too. No one can be simply “condemned” for not having hit a target value set by the dashboard.
Reward instead of paying
With this nuance of the performance assessment alone, the leadership could prevent a lot of problems. But in practice, management behavior should correlate with the ‘people watch your hips, not your lips’ concept. People have concerns that the new system may be used to ‘pay’ them. This term has caused a lot of harm and should be better replaced by ‘reward’. But it is undeniable that this consideration has often played a role in the decision to introduce performance management. Many organizations are interested in introducing performance incentives.
Performance management in the organizational culture
The organization’s management can better secure this objective for the long term. It’s wiser to first collect the large and directly accessible benefit of performance management. This will help increase the performance orientation. Only when business intelligence and improvement are well-embedded in the organizational culture, can a connection with performance reward be considered. Meanwhile, it’s possible to associate the introduction of performance management with promoting a better work environment, improving problem solving, and enhancing the performance orientation for departments.