Organizational Excellence

People and Process Improvement

Archive for May 2010

Performance Management, Engagement and Retention in Hooterville

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When there isn’t much opportunity for positional advancement as is the case with smaller employers, WIIFM needs to come from other sources. Among the greatest engagement-related challenges for smaller employers: how do you encourage people to stay, much less exert exemplary effort, when opportunity to advance is not part of the equation?

Other motivators must be present in greater amounts. Meaningful recognition, exceptional working conditions, opportunities to learn and grow, solid work relationships with peers and leadership.

I’m a big fan of effective performance management,  operative word = effective. A major selling point for performance management is that it provides the means for people to own their own development and growth, own their own career…key factors behind retention rates.

Making the individual’s current environment better and their current position more intrinsically satisfying is not just about the carrot of a better title, bigger desk, higher salary.

Some people are more content at a smaller company than they would be working for a corporate giant, just as life in Hooterville is more appealing to some than the Big Apple. What “small” factors are most appealing? These desirable elements need to be understood and leveraged as much as possible.

How can life in Hooterville be packaged? And, is it enough to keep good people and nurture high engagement? Or, is the little guy destined to remain the farm club for the giants, losing good people as soon as they are experienced enough to get called up to the big league?

(For background on the work-in-process Flawless Execution project, go to the FE Home Page. For more information on performance management go to Flawless Execution Systems page)


Written by Craig

May 7, 2010 at 11:58 am

Smart Performance Management

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Is performance management a semi-annual ritual grudgingly completed to keep HR off your back? Or is performance management a value-adding tool to help manage strategy execution and develop the team?

Following is the way performance management could and should work, in three phases.

ONE—ALIGN WITH THE TOP. In this first phase, areas of influence are identified down to the individual level: my work has a direct impact on these top goals. Specific “how” targets are identified in Phase Two.

The first step in alignment is to cascade goals down into the organization starting at the top of the pyramid–the company’s mission / vision and critical goals and objectives for the coming period. It’s a partnership: the manager knows what must be done, and the individual knows how they can contribute.

TWO—ESTABLISH MEANINGFUL LEAD GOALS and METRICS, connected to the company’s lag (macro) goals and metrics. If the lag goal for the company is “Lose 30 pounds” and the lag metric is “pounds lost per month” what actions will the individual be accountable for to achieve that goal, and what increments of measurement? How many minutes of exercise each week? How many calories consumed?

THREE: HOLD REGULAR UPDATE MEETINGS. Performance management is a project management tool and the business plan is the Mother of All Projects. So, how often should a manager and an employee discuss status of the key projects employees are working on?

Performance management plan update meetings are critical to strategy execution. Yet, data has shown that the average number of performance management-related meetings is 1-2 a year. No wonder so many of those who “fail to meet expectations” are caught by surprise.

DUAL FOCUS: Deliverables and Development. Performance management is typically skewed toward managing the achievement of company goals. However, there must be equal consideration given to both people and process. What is the individual’s development plan? What do they hope to accomplish, what does the manager need to do to help them achieve those goals? What is realistically possible over the planning period?

This is important not just to ensure the individual is satisfied with their work and their company. Managing individual development also develops bench strength and is a key part of succession management.

Performance management is a key element in alignment and cascading of company goals. It is critical to strategy execution, and is an effective project management aid. Performance management is a tool that the individual can leverage to achieve their own satisfiers especially when enlisting the help of their manager, therefore it can play a major role in achieving high engagement. Performance management also ensures solid bench strength for the company.

Still, it is rare to find a company where performance management is fully and voluntarily embraced from top to bottom. Amazing.

For background on the work-in-process Flawless Execution project, go to the FE Home Page. For more information on this topic go to the Flawless Execution Systems page.

Written by Craig

May 7, 2010 at 11:51 am