Now, consider if you are part of a production company and a director you are working with has done 10 films, all of which have been critically acclaimed, but none of which have performed well at the box office. At some point, because making movies is expensive, that company is going to have to look at the gap between what the director's performance is versus what the director's performance could be. Is it possible for this director to achieve better box office results with the resources they are given? Does more money need to be invested to make the film more commercially successful? Does the director have an interest in making commercially successful films? In addition, the roles could be entirely reversed if a particular director tends to create commercially successful films that are consistently panned or even offensive. It all depends on the goal of each film.
Although performance management seems to focus or be synonymous with an employee review where only flaws and problems are addressed, this is not so. Actually, employee reviews should not be like that. An open and honest assessment of an employee's faults and mistakes is certainly part of performance management but if the other elements are absent, you are not managing performance but rather setting employees up to fail.
In addition to assessing and providing feedback, it is also vitally important that employers and mentors provide positive reinforcement. Punitive or negative actions tend to be disheartening and promote an atmosphere of distrust and dissatisfaction. While there are certainly times in situations where negative reinforcement is appropriate in a business context, this is usually most effective when rules are being violated or a staff member has become offensive or belligerent. When dealing with issues of performance management, negative reinforcement rarely works and often results in a staff member feeling unvalued or even fearful, neither of which promote better decision making and increases success.
How do you provide positive reinforcement within the workplace? As cheesy and trite as it sounds, by accentuating the positive and working to eliminate the negative you provide positive reinforcement. Any time that you are working to develop talent and improve an employee's performance, put forth the effort to never offer criticism without also providing a compliment. For a simple example, consider a sales clerk who is attempting to sell a particular camera but when describing the benefits of the camera, the customer loses interest, and the sale is lost. Positive reinforcement might include explaining to the clerk how too much technical detail may be overwhelming for the customer while also praising some other aspect of the interaction such as how the clerk had the customer personally handle and look through the lens to get a feel for the camera. Rarely is someone so bad at their job, especially when they are in a leadership or talent position, that there is never something positive to say.
When you provide positive reinforcement to your talent, you have helped provide a sense of worth for the employee within the context of their job. This motivates the employee to do well as they understand that their efforts are being recognized. Identifying and focusing on the positive attributes will likewise encourage your talent to continue providing the desired behavior, both because they now know that they are on the right track and because they value praise. Positive reinforcement can also play a huge role in improving workplace morale. Supervisors who focus on flaws rather than strengths end up with a whole team of people who are living in an atmosphere of low morale, even when some of those people are excellent at their job. Never underestimate the power of one team member's misery to influence others.