What Do Santa Clause & Performance Management Have in Common?

Photo by Vanessa Pike-Russell on Flickr.

Brian Kauke (not pictured on the left) is a sales & marketing professional at The Vaya Group, a Talent Management consultancy that applies science and precision to the art of talent assessment and development.This post is republished with permission from The Vaya Group's blog. 
I think it’s safe to say the holiday season is knocking at our door. The leaves are almost all gone. The layer of frost that greets us when we wake up is getting thicker. And just try to walk into a store without spotting any holiday decorations. But there is even a more telling sign that alerts me every year. My kids are behaving like two precious angels I can barely recognize.

The dinner dishes are cleared before I can even stand up. Homework is done promptly and double-checked for accuracy. Their motivation is off the chart and engagement is at an all-time high. I love the effort and performance, yet I know who I should be thanking for this inspiration – Santa Claus. Yes, they know what is at stake and the reward they are anticipating. Want to take a guess how long this will last?
I have a feeling I’m not alone in this situation. And I’m not only talking about kids and Santa, but think how closely this relates to an organization and the performance management system that is in place. In most cases, performance management systems are hardwired to compensation and that becomes the overriding factor. Yet studies have shown that compensation is not a long-term motivator. Performance management should be an ongoing process in which talent is getting regular coaching with frequent discussions about their goals, measures of success, and how they are achieving their goals.
Now I’m not trying to give any parenting advice. My wife will be the first to point out that I once let our kids watch a little bit of The Shining with me (in my defense it was on regular TV so I thought all the bad parts would be cut out). So let’s focus solely on business. We have found that in order to become a performance-rich organization, you must ensure your leaders are trained to give coaching and effective behavioral feedback. This has to be a continuous process. Catch people doing things right – reinforce behaviors that are required for business success.
A strong performance management system will focus on results and impact. It will align to the strategic needs and priorities of an organization and drive the behaviors that will support this. And it will develop the skills that are required today and in the future, so that you prepare future leaders and retain your top talent. Optimizing talent within an organization is similar to the spirit of the holiday season – true success comes from living this out every day.

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