Misleading Conduct # 10 : Continually Moving the Performance Goalposts


Misleaders always want to be focussed on the performance of the business as an outcome AND always want to operate as if there is no connection between their leadership and the performance outcomes of their people.

How many times have we seen or heard organisations state… “Our people are our most important asset”….or… “Our business is our people”….? How is this evidenced in their strategies, policies, processes, procedures or everyday dealings with their people?

Misleaders will not take any intentional action to make sure their performance management program aligns to business or to reward strategies or processes.  Even better – if employees look like getting near any targets the misleader did happen to set for them, they simply change the target.

Misleaders continually move the goalposts, reasoning that they probably made the goals too easy if employees can make them.

Misleaders don’t want their employees to know exactly what is required of them because then the misleader can move things around to suit the outcomes they want.  The whole sorry business then culminates when the misleader catches employees out and ‘pummels’ them at the annual performance review. In most organisations there is a link between performance management outcomes and pay.

Misleaders operate the remuneration framework so that neither the employees nor their managers understand how their performance influences their remuneration outcomes. This way misleaders won’t have to explain to them how it works or why they received the bonus or salary review that they did. It also means the misleaders personally can make sure that the money goes to the ‘right’ people they believe should get it – regardless of any performance management program outcomes.  If people work for the misleader long enough they get to know how things work. Whilst under this approach the misleaders will not be maximising their people’s discretionary effort for the first couple of years, at least it makes the misleaders’ life a bit easier. After all it doesn’t make any difference to the business or the customer if employees aren’t performing to their full potential, or if they leave, you can just replace them…right?

A good leader ensures employees understand what is required of them in their role and how their work relates to business outcomes.  There is clarity of how their performance influences remuneration outcomes. Formal and informal conversations occur regularly, to provide feedback on progress against goals set and/or an opportunity for more general business or personal conversations to occur.

Author: This post is by Ian Sampson (B.Comm., LLB., FAICD, FAIM). Ian is a Cause and Effective Associate (www.causeandeffective.info). He is a Strategic Advisor to Boards, an Executive Coach and a Facilitator of our Powerful Leadership in Action Program. He can be contacted here.

Image from 123RF

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