Don’t Confuse Personal Development With Performance Evaluation
Good leaders help others determine what skills and knowledge will catapult their everyday productivity and effectiveness. Through an ongoing flow of development conversations, team members learn what to correct, what to amplify, and how to add more value to the team.
In the end, the learning and growth involved in development depend more on the team member, as they have to own their progress and invest in themselves by raising their hand for experiences and challenging assignments. When team members fail to develop, they may play a smaller role on the team, but there are rarely negative consequences tied to their lack of improvement.
Performance management is a different animal altogether. When managing performance, the leader and the team member discuss what must be accomplished and agree to short-term and long-term goals that reflect excellence in this work.
Performance conversations explore whether team members have achieved the goals, and how to course correct if the objectives are within reach. Leaders tie rewards to this performance as a way to hold team members accountable for results. By paying for performance, leaders send a powerful message that results matter for team success.
Leaders who believe learning development and managing performance are the same thing often link rewards, such as compensation, to both skill acquisition and results. The consequence is that team members lose the intrinsic motivation to learn and get better. When leaders tie pay to development, team members come to learn and develop only when they can earn a carrot. In fact, once incentives are yoked to development, team members will resist learning new skills unless there is some payout for their effort.
Paying for others to learn and develop themselves is a colossal mistake that doesn’t reveal its effects quickly, but almost always results in inhibiting development. The best leaders separate these two conversations and don’t pay or reward people to learn and grow their skills. They reserve compensation and incentives exclusively for results.
Great leaders never pay people to learn and develop. They expect it. The intrinsic motivation to learn and grow is shared by every team member until leaders offer monetary rewards for it. Don’t conflate development with performance, or you’ll wind up with minimal development.