You bet we're dealing with some rough waters in the U.S. economy. Organizations of all sizes are being affected by it and the importance of how they deal with performance of employees becomes magnified in tough times.
But what do most organizations do? They cut staff and cut programs designed to enhance performance. One could argue that the single most important thing that can be done when times are difficult is to focus even more intensely on hiring the very best people and on incrementally improving the performance of all employees.
How well employees perform during good and bad times is absolutely critical to the success of the business. And one could argue that there should be the same high level of intensity and urgency surrounding performance management regardless of how well things are going financially. Who in their right mind would argue that? Certainly no argument here.
Because one result of a slowdown in business can be cutbacks in personnel, that means that those who are left have to be that much more productive and that much more focused on performing overall at even higher levels than ever. Let's face it, when times are good, 'fat, dumb and happy syndrome' can set in and the level of accountability for performance at the highest possible level may not be in place.
Our founder likes to say "I don't care how good things look today, you had better prepare every day for the time when things go to ----." Sure I could fill in that last word for you, but you get the gist. His point is that nearly every business will face tough times at some point. And if there isn't a strong performance management culture in place that includes, at a minimum, employee development, goal alignment, accountability, excellent coaching and feedback, structured and well developed formal reviews, and a focus on developing a high morale, high engagement culture, the tough times will be even tougher when they come around.
Unfortunately, good times tend to breed contentment and lethargy and the commitment to truly advancing the skills and performance of all employees on an ongoing basis can slip. Then when things get tough, some level of panic can set in and irrational or knee jerk decisions can get made. Some of those decisions may include cutbacks related to employee development and performance management. Because employees are the key to advancing the organization in good and bad times, cutting back necessary activities and programs generally only serves to exacerbate the problems posed by a bad economy and faltering revenues.
Spending money on performance management is an investment. HR professionals understand that incremental improvement of employee performance serves to strengthen the position of the business thereby positioning it to take advantage of favorable conditions and to withstand a bad economy or a slowdown in the industry.
Don't fall victim to discounting the importance of a concentrated and comprehensive plan for continually moving employee performance forward. Doing so could put your company in a very unenviable position.