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Supervisors and managers tend to believe that "putting out fires" with employees is the most important part of their job. Sometimes this is necessary, but if firefighting consumes too much time, then less time is available for correcting the real underlying problems.
It may appear that a problem is fixed, but the "solution" may actually cover up something that is still broken. All too often, performance management becomes the weakest link in the chain of management activities that keep companies profitable.
What should organizations do then to create a stronger link that will make their staffing and training investments pay off?
Providing effective management in an organization is like maintaining a wheel that can handle any terrain and can go great distances without breaking down.
One of the main "spokes" of this management wheel is improving employee performance through proper observation, assessment, and performance feedback. We call this "performance development" because the main objective is not to manage employee performance but to help employees develop job-related competencies.
Performance development is important for making the management wheel run true and turn in the right direction. When this spoke is strong, the whole organization moves forward quickly and efficiently. If this spoke is weak, however, everything gets out of alignment and the organization has to slow down.
Managers and supervisors typically do not receive any special training regarding performance development. They often do not understand how to help their employees to become more successful. This is why a performance management system is required to maintain the management wheel in any organization.
A performance management system is a structured approach for improving the effectiveness of all employees. Unlike casual approaches for enhancing job effectiveness, a structured system emphasizes the use of standardized tools and procedures (such as a performance evaluation process) to achieve dramatic organizational results in a timely manner.
Without these practical tools and standard procedures, the wheel of organizational success can easily become the "wheel of misfortune."