Keeping it Simple – Performance Management 101

This business of ‘performance management’ is a process that’s supposed to ensure everyone in
the organization knows exactly what it is they’re paid to do, and to encourage each toward
individual success. For when we each win, we all win.

The relationship between defining company needs, job descriptions, goal setting, and the annual
performance appraisal so often falls short of this outcome. Ever see a disconnect between these
variables? What are you paying somebody to do? What performance is actually being measured
and rewarded? Does everyone see it the same way?

Back to the Basics

Success in the employment relationship can generally be defined around the same four things.
We call these The Four Universal Job Accountabilities, and they’ve become the cornerstone upon
which our philosophies for effective performance management and organizational effectiveness
have been built.

#1 Achieve Results

From the president to the receptionist, every position is accountable for achieving certain and
specific business outcomes and results. Yet, too often successful performance is viewed or
defined as having accomplished tasks, not as having achieved outcomes. Consider:

  • Answering phone calls is a task. Making sure every customer at the other end of the phone has a fantastic service experience is an outcome.
  • Implementing a new marketing strategy is a task. Gaining a 30% increase in market share as a result of a well executed marketing strategy is an outcome.
  • Swinging a bat and hitting the ball is a task. Scoring runs is an outcome.

Do you pay staff members to accomplish tasks or to achieve results? Understanding the
difference is critical to establishing clear expectations of success.

#2 Operational Excellence

Every job is accountable for adhering and performing to some level of standards or compliance.
Standards of operating excellence may include a specific quality standard, a legal standard, a
compliance standard, or some other metric of best practices. ‘Timely and accurate’ is a perfectly
acceptable operating standard against which many outcomes need to be performed. Everyone
should have a clear understanding of the operational standards within which they’re paid to
achieve business results.

#3 Relationship Management

Every job is accountable for some standard of effective relationship management. Most all
employees are accountable for being a contributing member of a team, and for developing
positive working relationships within their company or departments. Many roles, especially more
senior roles, are also accountable for the development of external relationships with customers,
vendors, the media, the public, and other important constituents. Most position descriptions
exclude this very important accountability… yet it is so often the reason someone is considered
‘unsuccessful’ or asked to leave.

#4 Leadership/Citizenship

Every employee is expected play nice, share their toys, and work well with others in the sandbox.
It is a fundamental accountability that everyone upholds the mission, values, and policies of the organization. Anyone in a leadership position is also accountable for ensuring the development of
a high performing team and a positive, safe, and productive work environment.

Performance management is a process to ensure 1) business needs are met through the proper
and precise 2) hiring, 3) management, 4) reward, and 5) development of people to meet those
needs. The Four Universal Job Accountabilities are a holistic approach to ensuring clarity and
consistency throughout every element of the performance management process. Indeed, when
these accountabilities are all successfully in alignment and clear throughout every step of the
way, we will all win.


Michael Tracy is owner and Managing Principal of OMNI Employment Management Services, LLC located in Overland Park, Kansas. Since 1998, OMNI has been providing advice and counsel in human resources management to profit and non-profit organizations throughout the region.