by Abbie Lundberg

The Importance of Managing Employee Performance to CIOs

Nov 01, 20033 mins
IT Leadership

Managing people’s performance is one of the least favorite jobs of many executives, yet it is without question a critical success factor. If your employees are not performing to the best of their abilities, you are wasting time and money.

So why do we hate this part of the job?

1. We are taught not to “judge” others, so many of us feel uncomfortable assessing individuals’ talents, skills and attitude and, especially, communicating that directly to the person in question.

2. It’s time-consuming. The evaluation part alone requires hours of gathering and reviewing data, and analyzing what it means in the context of the individual, the job he’s assigned to and the organization overall.

3. It often involves telling people things they don’t want to hear, and asking them to do things they don’t want to do.

4. The benefits, while very real, are indirect, and it’s a never-ending process?there’s no end date to performance management. (Sure, you can fire a poor performer, but you still have to manage her successor’s performance.)

5. In times of lean budgets, it can be more difficult to reward good performers financially, so it may be tempting to avoid the conversation altogether.

CIOs who have embraced the performance-management part of their jobs dismiss such objections. In fact, they’ll tell you, there’s nothing more important to CIO success than building and continually tuning a high-performance team. For some, that is the job. (See Meridith Levinson’s “How to Find, Fix or Fire Your Poor Performers” Page 60.)

Inexperienced managers sometimes think they’ll spare the feelings of their staffers if they avoid the honest truth about their weak performance. Nothing could be further from the truth. Most people are good at something?as a leader it’s your job to help them improve at what they’re doing if possible and, if not, help them find an alternate path once they really hit the wall.

There are many tools available to aid in performance evaluation and management. One of the most controversial is forced ranking. As with any method, there’s a right and a wrong way to do it.

I once knew a CIO who attracted and retained top talent, and developed a uniquely high performing team. Yet his company insisted he (and all the other executives) use forced ranking not only to evaluate their staff but to annually eliminate the bottom 10 percent. After the first year or two, there were no bad performers left, and he was having to fire people he believed to be capable, talented IT professionals. This clearly did not serve the organization or its people well, and it’s no surprise he didn’t stay with that company for long. It’s also no surprise that a good many of those employees followed him to his next assignment.

Do you agree that effective performance management is key to your success? Let me know.