We’ve all worked with someone whose core values weren’t in alignment with our own or those of the organization.  The effective management of employee performance is one of the most complex aspects of managing others.  That task becomes even more complicated when the standards aren’t clear or the messages surrounding them are mixed.

As leaders face ever more pressure to engage employees while producing results, they are pushing back against traditional performance management systems that not only fail to help develop employees, they can actually damage morale.  With today’s highly mobile workforce, that’s a risk few employers can afford.  At the same time, there’s a heightened focus on ethical leadership.  With the recent news on both Roger Ailes from Fox and John Stumpf from Wells Fargo, employers are looking for ways that they can ensure ethical behavior.

At HRM, we’ve developed a solution.  We’ve long advocated for a performance management process which identifies the core competencies required for a role and then developed behavioral examples of those competencies.  This then becomes a tool for discussing performance with employees.

We still advocate for this approach with one additional step.  Instead of developing core values for your organization that simply hang on the wall in the lobby and gather dust, we’ve started adding them in the performance management process.  Here’s how it works:

Just like competencies, core values are defined in terms of expected behaviors.  Then, each month, they are discussed with the employee in a feedback session.  Why is this important?  Because leaders often assume that employees know what they expect and then are surprised later.  Having regular conversations about these values and providing behaviorally anchored examples of how they look ensures that everyone is on the same page.

There’s another reason.  Skills are easier to measure, discuss, and to change.  If your employee is lacking a key technical skill, it’s a relatively straightforward conversation to point out the need for developing that skill and to find a training resource to support it.  A lack of alignment with a core value is a much more difficult conversation, but it’s also the one that can avoid the most pain for your organization.  It’s time to strengthen your company’s core by moving those values from the lobby wall into the daily lives of your employees.

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