Performance Management in the age of transparency

What have you done for me lately? It's a vital question for both manager and employee.

The answer is readily apparent with increasing ease and frequency. As information flow and transparency become ubiquitous in the workplace, managers have everything necessary to provide real-time feedback. 

We can be nimble and, in turn, help our teams and companies do the same. The days of the regimented quarterly and annual performance reviews are over.

We interact with our teams multiple times a day, dozens of e-mails, information shared on intranets, wikis, social media, project tracking software, etc. Very few of us suffer from too little data.

We know intuitively, in real time, what's working and what isn't. If you don’t, then you aren’t a manager.  You’re a time clock.

I was with a gathering of CHROs and senior HR execs last week and someone said, “I can tell you right now how my team will end up at the end of the year -- who will be at the front of the line, right down to who will be at the end.”

My response was, “Why don’t you do something about it when you get back to the office next week?” Then came the sheepish look and response: “There is the issue, what will compel me to take on the challenge next week, above all other priorities?” I said, “Because everyone else can probably already rank the list too, that should compel you to make it a priority.”

Managers used to be able to sit comfortably behind the fact that metrics rolled up the organization, and they could afford to address performance over larger chunks of time. While people had a sense of who was doing well and who wasn't, the actual results weren’t always readily apparent. There used to be time, but no longer.

The impact of managerial machinations around performance is accelerated and amplified.  All managers inherently know the consequences of not recognizing and acting on top and bottom performance. Top performers will disengage more quickly, leave or turn cynical. The rest of the team will slip into a safety zone of mediocrity.

In the age of transparency, performance management occurs in real time -- whether we want it to or not.

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I think this is a lot more complicated issue than most blvieee it to be. The two naysayers Douglas and aguy have very valid business points that should not just be ignored or pooh poohed as being out-of-touch, old curmudgeons.Likewise the social media proponents make equally valid arguments that the way employees live and work is changing. Technology has really blended people's lives in completely new ways. We used to talk about work family balance on a scale with two ends. Today it's all sort of jumbled together.Like Douglas and aguy and being an old curmudgeon myself, I'm not comfortable with this change either. I, too, want to shout to people to stop playing while at work. And I completely sympathize with aguy's point of being happy to lose those employees who would leave because they are being to asked to work during the work day.The problem for Douglas, aguy and myself is that the change is coming at us like a tsunami (or like lava flow?). It doesn't seem (at this time anyway) to be stoppable. And if we can't stop it, we need to better understand it, develop creative ways to manage it and learn how to use it to our advantage rather than our detriment. It's not as easy as saying let employees do whatever they want nor is it as easy as saying ban everything.Exempt employees can be focused on results and if they choose to goof off during the day they have nights and weekends to catch up. (Though I do worry about the lack of concentration during the work days which may result in poorer performance than normal.)Non-exempt or hourly employees are a greater challenge in that we are paying them specifically for their time. If the time is being divided between work and play, that is inappropriate. We may see a change coming in the whole concept of hourly workers.In the meanwhile, is it possible to limit non-exempt employees' social endeavors to their break time and encourage focus during non-breaks.

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