How Performance Management is Killing Performance – and What To Do About It

BIZBOOKS AND BEYOND[su_dropcap style=”flat”]T[/su_dropcap]HIS IS NOT a textbook, but it is packed with so much knowledge and so many experiences pulled from real life organizations, you will learn as much about performance management as if you had attended class. Part way into the book, there was a short paragraph captioned New Thought, Thoughtfully Applied. That’s what attracted me to this book. If ever there was a person who saw no value in the annual performance review, look over here. I have my hand w-1aving. However, I am a strong advocate for performance management. I just think inspired performance is the result of coaching, assessment, feedback, and encouragement delivered in methods unrelated to the annual review. Here’s what you will learn from the author M. Tamra Chandler who has earned the title bona fide people maven.

The book is thoughtfully constructed in practical pieces, to give readers a chance to wrap their minds around the concepts. First, rethink what you believe; next, redesign what you do; and finally, reboot to start something more effective. Here we go, chapter by chapter, these are my takeaways – but don’t take my word for it, you might gravitate toward something entirely different. Remember what I mentioned earlier. This book is packed with things you can do to transform performance management so it becomes a benefit to motivation, not a detriment to morale. As David Ulrich writes in the Forward: This book might not be a panacea for accountability but it is far more helpful than trudging ahead with what is broken or abandoning all sense of accountability.


Stop me if I’m wrong but what Chandler describes as she begins her book is what I have I have seen evidenced through my own 40 year working career. Performance management consists of annual appraisals, mid-year reviews, employees complete self-assessments based on goals set for the year, other team members might be invited to submit an assessment, after which the manager compiles notes and presents the results with some type of rating and commentary. Does that sound familiar? If everyone is doing it, why then, do we keep recycling the same process when managers grumble and employees complain? If the objective is improvement, clearly this method is not working.

Ask anyone and they will recite for you the three common goals of performance management. In some form or other the goals are to develop people, reward equitably, and finally to drive organizational performance. Taken from the book and displayed in the table below are factors that contribute to why our performance management tactics are flawed.

The author describes Eight Fatal Flaws of traditional performance management, then she (thankfully) demonstrates Eight Fundamental Shifts.


You might have to cogitate on them a bit, but they will make sense to you now and will become very clear when you read the full analysis of each in the book.


This next section is a gold mine for process improvement and performance enhancement. In the beginning pieces of the performance management puzzle, the author helps your thought process and getting into the right mindset to prepare for your journey. Chandler asks that you check your fear at the door. By taking on this challenge you will be getting closer to your intent of having a healthier, happier organization. In five phases, the how of improving your performance management technique and policy is laid out. From the planning, to the implementation, it’s all here. I’ll help you out with a short synopsis of each phase. Phase is my word because the content within each chapter seems indicative of a phase rather than a step, but the ideology is what’s important.

            Mobilize: From the technology to the people, planning is the component that sets the stage for the journey. Assemble the team, spur thought, educate, confirm, empower members of your design team.

            Sketch: This is where you step back and assure your design team is grounded and understands the facts of performance management. The author says this is where you align on the principles of design. With principles in place sketch your frame against goals.

            Configure: What happens after a blueprint is drawn? The same thing happens after you sketch the design of your performance management system. This is where you will select practices, options and features. I’ve always loved brainstorming sessions. In this chapter are some really cool examples and sets of questions to be used in structuring a session to capture thoughts, ideas, and perspectives. Then put your configuration to the test.

REBOOT – let’s get to it!

            Build and Implement: This is the last part of acceptance, understanding, adoption, and finally using this new approach to performance management. Remember way back in Fatal Flaw #4 we learned that there is no ‘one size fits all’. Building and implementing will have many variations and dependencies. Chandler warns, “Understanding and managing dependencies is imperative. Spend time on them in addition to the creative and tactical work of designing and creating the tools and content of your PM solution.”

The author follows up throughout the book with real stories of real organizations where they strategically set in motion a change to their performance management systems. Building and implementing is hard work. Chandler describes it this way. “Managing dependencies may take considerable political skills, but the rollout will require nothing less than creativity, salesmanship, elbow grease, and an ample supply of patience.”

Factored into developing this new and improved performance management system are 1) Create your build plan; 2) Plan your change; 3) Reassess and evolve your rollout strategy and timeline; 4) Create supporting content; 5) Define your sustainability model.

What’s the worst thing that could happen now? I know. That’s what I was thinking too. After all that work, what if it falls into painful failure? M. Tamra Chandler offers advice and support to “cement the buy-in, adoption, and sustainability of your new performance management solution.” The chapter titled Making it Stick offers many pages of documented experience to help you. And The Toolbox is full of practicable counsel and guidance for each step and phase in the process. Don’t be at first a naysayer or at last a dinosaur that doesn’t see the possibilities for a new way of really improving performance of individuals which will be reflected in improved organizational performance.

Whatever you do, trust yourself, trust your people, and trust the process. Above all, keep moving forward, and never, ever look back. [su_spacer]

       – M. Tamra Chandler


Jane Anderson
Jane Anderson
JANE’s professional experience is scattered across industries from financial services and insurance to engineering and manufacturing. Jane sees her background in writing and editing website content as the foundation to her current love of social media. Being an avid reader, meticulous note taker and lifelong learner has fostered her natural pursuit of sharing her world through writing. Reading books and summarizing content started as a hobby and has since grown to be a major part of her vocational experience. Jane says, “Authors pour their heart and soul into writing their book. When I write a review, it’s with intent to celebrate the book and promote the author.” Jane claims to be 'the best follower you'll ever want to meet' and has been repeatedly called servant leader, eternal cheerleader, social media evangelist, and inspirational go-to person. Jane is a contributing author to the inspiring book Chaos to Clarity: Sacred Stories of Transformational Change.

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