Learning Re-Imagined

Skillsoft Blog

When Duct Tape Isn’t Enough….

By Beth Baker, Learning Consultant, SkillSoft

For many, the term “Performance Management” elicits visions of the annual development process, complete with competency listings, skill gap discussions, and performance review documentation.  We treat performance management as an annual employee inspection.

Annual inspections are important – just ask any homeowner.  Once a year we check the fire alarms, we clean out gutters, we even call out the plumber to take a look at the pipes and make sure that things are running smoothly. But what happens when little leaks pop up in between the inspections?

Why duct tape of course! Duct tape can fix anything.  Just slap a little around the pipe and voila!  It is just like new. Unfortunately, no amount of duct tape can hold a leaky pipe forever.  It might slow it down, but eventually you will have a basement that looks like the Pacific Ocean. You will need to wear scuba gear to do laundry, and Nemo will keep interrupting, asking if you have seen his Dad.

Not a good situation.


Applying performance management like duct tape helps address the gap between desired results and actual results, but it is only going to hold for so long.  In order to begin preventing the gap between desired and actual outcomes, performance management must start well before we notice a leak.

We must start with well-defined roles and requirements and then ensure we get the right person into the right role. (You wouldn’t hire an accountant to install a new shower, would you?) When these steps are skipped, performance will suffer.

Performance management doesn’t stop there.  On-going training, development, and continual feedback are essential.  When organization’s direction and business requirements change, expectations around performance also change. These changes need to be communicated, and a path must be established for employees to adapt along with the organization.

This approach to performance management may take a bit more time and thought initially, but it saves a ton in plumbers’ fees.

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