We expect managers (with teams) to lead better, but are we providing them with what they need to do so?
Management is not leadership.
Most organizations have many means to manage work, which includes asking people to share, measure, and report on their progress.
And most have some form of technology, robust software, or task-specific tools, that is categorized as performance management to support managing work.
Unfortunately, the software or tools we leverage for better management aren’t supporting better leadership.
Practical and useful ways to manage better—to organize tasks and ensure that the work that is expected gets done—are important. Today, though, that is not enough.
I will discuss what a great manager as leader looks like in the next newsletter. For now, let’s look at what performance management does do, what it is missing to help managers lead, and how a leadership system (rather than performance management) can help managers become great leaders.
Performance management is designed to manage work
The aim of performance management is to ensure that activities are efficiently performed, and that those activities result in the achievement of stated goals. But these are quantitative goals, and leadership is qualitative.
And while it can be possible to incorporate goals related to workplace culture, team building, learning, and other qualitative measures, it is difficult and usually not done. Why? Sometimes it’s because in that organization managers are only expected to manage, and one doesn’t manage how another person behaves, feels, or grows; these are areas of leadership.
Today, many organizations do expect their managers to also lead. They understand that work is managed, and people are led. And yet, only tools and applications supporting the management of work are provided.
Manage work. Manage yourself. Lead others.
A leadership system is needed
Performance management isn’t obsolete; performance management systems help managers manage work. If you want to also help your managers lead people better, you need a leadership system. Performance management is not enough.
For example, most performance management systems treat alignment like a communication tool for buy-in and work allocation. It misses the mark in aligning people with their roles, and their roles with strategy, in a way that inspires them.
Typically the implied question is, “Here’s the work we need done, now who is going to what?” When a more inspiring question is “Here’s what we want to achieve. How might your role positively affect progress and what would progress look like to you?”
Also, performance management, in general, doesn’t empower people to speak out when activities, goals, or the workplace context are not most effective in meeting strategic objectives.
A leadership system catalyzes alignment and momentum
We are not opposed to performance management. We, Abrige Corp., have been offering performance management software and consulting services for over a decade, and have been included on Gartner research’s lists and reports.
That was over a decade ago. And what we see is that the organizations that want to remain relevant tomorrow don’t need more help in managing work; they need a system for better, and more pervasive, leadership.
Here’s what blocks performance management from helping managers lead better:
- when managers are rewarded only for how efficiently they manage work
- expecting to automate from existing information systems, which gather only quantitative data (mostly financial results)
- a workplace in which managers (with teams) aren’t being asked to lead
Helping managers lead better
Our passion remains to help managers lead better. In this context managers help align roles with strategic objectives and build teams, individuals manage themselves and their work, all work together and have a voice about workplace culture.
Sure, it takes a bit of time to truly weave this into the culture to gain the full benefit of alignment and momentum. But the results are worth it: a more vibrant organization, and a business that stays ahead, commands its highest value, and is a great place to work.
Revisit what system (automated software or manual method) you are giving your managers to help the lead better.