Have you ever worked hard in your job, devoted many years to a company you felt loyal to, only to continually be passed up for the pay raises, promotions, or career progression opportunities you assumed you were entitled to, and time and time again see other people receive them in your place? Do you find yourself continually passed up for opportunities, which leads to your eventual dissatisfaction with your employer?
What is it that they are doing that you are not?
I’ve had a few of these feelings and experiences during my career and want to share some things I’ve learned in the process that hopefully will help you better manage your own performance management.
There are a lot of articles out there that talk about what performance management processes look like from a manager’s perspective, or from the perspective of the organization as a whole. Topics range from how companies are supposedly getting rid of performance ratings, or how performance management processes need to change because they are outdated and both employees and managers hate doing them.
While the latter may be true, many articles tend to focus on how managers or organizations can change their processes in order to meet the business objectives, but not many articles give you the employee’s perspective on how to make the performance process meaningful or effective for them.
Here are 5 tips to effectively manage your own performance:
- Start your development plan early. Even if you feel like you’re still trying to master your current role, it pays to start considering other areas you can develop that may benefit a future position (even though you may not know what that future position is). By the time you figure out that you’re complacent with your current role and start considering the next one, if you haven’t made a start from a development perspective, it may be too late. Sometimes development could take at least six to 12 months (or longer) before the next role pops up, and if you’re already sick/bored of your current one, that’s a long time to stick it out in a role you’re unhappy with. If you’re stuck or lost, speak to your manager for guidance or find a mentor.
- Communicate your plans (current or future) to your manager, your mentor, or any other relevant stakeholder in the business. Have continual conversations with them so that they can help steer you in the right direction and get their feedback so you can check on how you’re doing. Managers aren’t mind readers, so they can’t know what it is you really want to be doing or where you see yourself in the next few years. How do you expect them to plan for your departure from the team, or even formulate a succession plan for your move and to backfill your role if you don’t tell them?
- Communication goes both ways though, and if a manager has you pegged for future advancement or has a succession plan for you, it would be useful if they communicated that to you as well. This transparency will motivate you to work towards something and allow you the opportunity to align your plans with your manager’s and ensure a common goal.
- Sit down with the manager of your future role and develop and agree on a set of criteria that you have to meet in order for them to consider you for the role. Ask your manager to agree that if you accomplish those tasks and prove your capability, they will hire you. It will be hard for a manager to say no if you have formulated that plan together and you tick off all the agreed-upon criteria.
- Continually seek feedback and pulse check. Don’t just suck up, or suddenly appear in front of your future manager whenever a role pops up. Make them play an active role in your development so that they have the confidence you are creating the right behaviors that would not only make you eligible for the role, but a right fit for the team. You will not be taken seriously if you only show up when you want something. Managers also enjoy the bragging rights that come with being involved in the development of future talent and seeing those people flourish in an organization.
And that last point is the most important. Continuous feedback is the key to all of this.
I’ve been managed and sometimes mismanaged, and with the benefit of hindsight, feel that I was fortunate to have realized where I’ve taken the wrong approach to the performance management process (and my own career development) to recognize what I should have done. This process isn’t new; Steve Hunt refers to it as the “Performance Investment Revolution,” yet so many people out there are still taking the wrong approach to managing their own career.
I have also been incredibly fortunate during my career at SAP that I have had managers who were fully supportive of my career development and my future at SAP. In the words of our Asia-Pacific-Japan president, Adaire Fox-Martin:
“Don’t become your company’s best kept secret”
This is a very hot topic among all industries, and I hope this can serve as a starting point to help facilitate further discussion or thought on this topic. Feel free to post in the comments what has worked for you or what hasn’t.
SAP is rolling out SAP Talk, a different way to manage performance, which leverages the Continuous Performance Management functionality in our SuccessFactors solution. Learn more about SuccessFactors here.