performance evaluationThe Ultimate Manager

My English Shepherd, Birdie is the ultimate manager. Now that lawn and garden season has finally arrived, he is always barking at the crack of dawn. “Up and Adam! Time to get working in the garden. Hop to it!” As soon as we are hard at work, Birdie digs a hole so he can snooze in the shade while we work up a sweat. That could be you! Birdie knows that each season brings different projects on which we have to focus. Our activities change quarterly and our short-term goals and objectives must change with them.

Are your employees and managers coming to work every day with a fire in their belly to produce results? Do they have a daily action plan to propel them to achieve ambitious goals by the end of the quarter?

If Birdie was a manager in your organization, he would insist that you abolish your ineffective Annual Performance Reviews and switch to Quarterly Goals and Objectives, also known as OKRs (Objectives and Key Results). I worked for a Fortune 500 company while I was in graduate school and the company was using them to drive productivity and achieve results as part of their Total Quality Management (TQM) program. They are an incredibly effective management tool!

“Jeffrey,” you say, “Hold the phone! That’s crazy talk! I don’t have time to meet quarterly with all my managers to establish goals and objectives.” Frankly, you don’t have time not to. Consider it a small investment of time that will reap huge rewards for your county or municipal organization.

Annual Performance Reviews in Many Government Organizations

Maybe your organization is different, but from what I have seen during 23 years in state and local government consulting, annual performance reviews are treated as a nuisance that everyone tolerates. No one has any idea what their goals were from their last performance review. In some organizations, almost everyone gets a gold star every year. Even the poorest performers get stellar reviews and you have no case at all if their employment eventually needs to be terminated. After the review, the document is buried in a folder and remains there until next year.

In 1982, W.E. Deming called for the eradication of the Annual Performance Review in his book, Out of the Crisis. In his words, “the annual performance review sneaked in and became popular because it does not require anyone to face the problems of people.” He goes on to say, “A leader, instead of being a judge, will be a colleague, counseling and leading his people on a day-to-day basis, learning from them and with them.” Here we are, 34 years later and many government organizations are still using ineffective 1950’s management practices.

Driving Performance

If you want to drive performance, you should have three sets of Goals and Objectives:

  1. Organizational Goals and Objectives
  2. Department Goals and Objectives
  3. Individual Goals and Objectives

There are numerous Internet resources and tools available for assistance with developing OKR’s. According to Emily Bonnie from Wrike (@Emily_TeamWrike), OKR’s must be “Ambitious, Measurable, Public, Graded, and at least sixty percent of goals should be “bottom up.”” I have previously written about the need for bottom-up and inside-out management of software projects here.

Follow Birdie’s advice: Fire your Annual Performance Review and adopt a more effective management tool that will drive your team to productivity.

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