You think performance management is difficult in your neck of the woods, let me tell you it could get even dicier. Imagine if your organization included jobs like tax attorney, firefighter, radio announcer, oncologist or pilot. All of these incumbents have to be experts when they perform their jobs. In most cases, if your business needs someone in a job category like this, you can't afford for them to "get up to speed" or "attain mastery," they have to walk in the door that way. And you can't afford mediocre performance on their part, either.
So, for a certain subset of jobs, knowledge and skills MUST be at mastery when you hire, and these individuals may be paid that way, too. How do you define what's better than great? But they have a "performance" dimension to their job, don't they?
The answer is yes and that performance dimension typically falls into the realm of competencies. If they work with others, how do they go about it? If they have to keep records, do they do it reliably and well? Plus, of course, the basics, do they keep their license or certifications up to date? These are some options. And yet organizations who manage these individuals struggle much more than most at defining performance expectations and reviewing performance. (Notice that I didn't mention rewards, right?)
For example, if you are a radio announcer, a goal would be to build listenership in certain time slots. But is there a reliable way of doing that? And how much control does the announcer have? I remember working with the host of a major daily morning news program on performance management. He wanted to know how management was going to measure his creativity. I have a feeling that network is still struggling with how to answer his question.
If a tax attorney, firefighter, radio announcer, oncologist or pilot make a mistake, you can name and evaluate it. So here's one of the ways of tackling this problem -- identify serious mistakes these superstars can make and back off into positive actions/competencies they must take to avoid each problem, then track these aspects of their performance.
Here's a tougher question. Anybody out there have success defining the "building" side of performance for jobs like this? We would all benefit from your experience!
Margaret O'Hanlon, CCP brings deep expertise to discussions on employee pay, performance management, career development and communications at the Café. Her firm, re:Think Consulting, provides market pay information and designs base salary structures, incentive plans, career paths and their implementation plans. Earlier, she was a Principal at Willis Towers Watson. Margaret coauthored the popular eBook, Everything You Do (in Compensation) Is Communications, a toolkit that all practitioners can find at https://gumroad.com/l/everythingiscommunication.