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Performance Management

A Discussion Paper

 

An Approach to Performance Management
Our approach to Performance Management enables organisations to thrive and grow in an environment where even the nature of change is changing. Progress is dependent on creating, maintaining and balancing the conditions required for successful change. We strongly believe that this can only be achieved through people.

Profitable growth depends on the satisfaction of stakeholders and repeat business through long term partnerships. Stakeholder satisfaction is the end result of a chain of internal and external supplier-customer relationships. Every link in this chain must be swift, quality conscious and efficient. The chain of supplier-customer relationships is forged as you and your staff seize opportunities to serve stakeholders. The chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

This can only be achieved by actively listening to the technical and emotional needs of the stakeholders, acting decisively and innovatively to meet them and monitoring success in doing so.

Our approach recognises that it is imperative to create the conditions in which people are truly empowered to create, recognise and effectively seize their service opportunities. People will only have the power to do this if in addition to the authority required they are given the necessary clarity, develop the required behaviour, knowledge and skills in a supportive environment.

We believe it is the leader's job to create these conditions in which people will become self motivated. People are only likely to become self motivated if they have complete clarity, have developed the appropriate behaviours, knowledge and skills in an environment which is supportive.

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Clarity

At an organisational level our approach to Performance Management will help you to be clear about the desired future state of your organisation based on analysis of who the stakeholders are, what they need and the values which will drive the way in which people behave in achieving it. This will reveal the critical success factors and measures which must then be reflected throughout the organisation. These measures must be balanced by taking account of customer feedback, internal efficiencies, capacity for innovation and growth and financial progress.

We believe that to deliver on plan performance individuals, teams and departments need:

  • complete clarity of understanding of what's expected of them in terms of what to do and how to do it
  • opportunities to use their skills, creativity and energy in pursuit of worthwhile goals for which they feel a sense of ownership and commitment.

Our experience suggests that cascading clarity through team workshops at every level is a powerful tool which involves people in ensuring that individual objectives can be traced back to the strategic level. We stress the importance of self monitoring against objectives to free up management time away from close supervision.

Our language of key accountabilities from which objectives are derived, provides individuals with an opportunity to regularly challenge the status quo and look afresh at old assumptions. We see this as vital if Performance Management interventions are to drive change rather than inadvertently reinforce the status quo.

Behaviour, Knowledge and Skills

Forty years of research indicates that what correlates best with successful performance at work is the preferred behaviour of the individual concerned. We strongly believe that with self awareness behaviour can change quickly and dramatically. Without self awareness it will only change slowly if at all. A key role of a Performance Management intervention must be to enhance self awareness at an organisational and individual level, whilst recognising that the introduction of such a language should only be introduced when the culture is ready.

We see skills as a cluster of behaviours being applied at the same time as a process in a given situation. The skill being demonstrated may be enhanced by the experience and knowledge of the individual. For example to demonstrate competence in the skill of selling may require the following behaviour, knowledge and skills:

SkillKnowledgeBehaviourProcess
SellingProductPlanning &
Organising
Selling
Model
ClientActive Listening
Persuasiveness
Interpersonal
Sensitivity
Judgement
Need to Achieve

We will help you to define the behaviours or competencies which will accurately reflect your values and beliefs as well as helping your people to fully understand how to use them.

Environment

Clarity of purpose and values, alongside the appropriate behaviour, knowledge and skills will help it shape the external and internal environments in which it operates. Clarity will help you to:

  • get ahead of increasingly aggressive competition
  • anticipate and meet rising stakeholder expectations
  • take advantage of the appropriate IT, transport and communications
  • remain flexible in the face of political, social and economic change

Internally our Performance Management Interventions can help you to balance:

  • Pay and rating
  • Job evaluation and grading
  • Communications

Other hygiene factors

We see these as outcomes of Performance Management and not necessarily the justification for it. In other words Performance Management is not the servant of the appraisal system, although it helps to ensure that appraisal is objective and valid.

Coaching

We also believe that it is imperative for leaders and others to adopt a coaching style in order to maintain on plan organisational and individual performance. The coach does this by ensuring the four factors influencing performance are managed and improved.

Coaching is a business activity. It is about creating the conditions for success by previewing as well as reviewing performance and enables participants to address difficult issues, understand and celebrate success and learn the lessons of past performance.

Coaching can be conducted by anyone to anyone on a one to one or group basis any time. It is definitely not the sole preserve of the manager to a member of the team. It is a style which seeks to create self motivation through questioning and listening rather than immediately providing a solution. In short it is about asking a question and not being the next one to speak.

We strongly believe that leaders in flatter structures no longer have the time to supervise or provide all the solutions. It is imperative that people at the customer interface and elsewhere come up with the answers, if stakeholder needs are to be met in a way which is effective and efficient enough to warrant repeat business. Of course we acknowledge that leaders may sometimes have to teach, counsel, mentor, direct or adopt any other style appropriate to the situation. The start point is questioning to reveal the needs of the individual being coached and adopting the most appropriate style thereafter.

Coaching is not a trait with which people are born, but a crucial life skill which can be demonstrated, practiced and learnt. In every case performance can be improved by the disciplined but not slavish use of a simple model whilst demonstrating the appropriate behaviours.

Once embedded coaching saves time and has a direct impact on the bottom line.

Where are You Now ?

Having defined where you want to be it is imperative to establish where you are now in order to decide how to move forward. We have a variety of diagnostic instruments which can help you to understand where you are now from the customers' and employees' perspective. We also have a number of instruments which can check the attributes and behaviours of individuals and teams based on self perception and 360 degree feedback. Examples of these are:

  • Customer Survey
  • Employees Survey
  • Culture Check Instrument
  • Team Behaviours Assessment
  • Team Strength Inventory
  • Preferred Behaviours - Self and 360 degree

The information gathered is especially powerful when backed up by anecdotal evidence gathered at the customer interface. Wherever possible we will work with you at the interface to understand what it is like to be a part of your organisation, understand its culture and speak its language. We also value the opportunity to assess the current climate by actively listening to gather the needs and views of as many stakeholders as possible.

As a result of this diagnostic phase we will work with you to establish the priorities for the intervention and establish clear measures for the project. It may be that your original perception of need is confirmed or that you should be addressing other priorities first. We will together with you to provide you with an integrated solution.

How can we help you to move forward ?

We will help you to plan, establish and manage the conditions required for the successful implementation of a Performance Management as well as training people to maintain the balance for themselves.

We will facilitate a process which will enable you to decide what will add the most value in the context of what your organisation needs, whilst remaining sensitive to what is likely to be successful in reality.

We respect the culture of the organisation as it is and recognise the difficulties in dramatic change, although we will not hesitate to recommend it if necessary. We will also challenge at the highest level if we believe that an intervention is not receiving or likely to receive the backing required to help sustain real behavioural change.

The output from this will be a plan, based on the research phase, which defines a critical path to a manageable implementation plan taking account of the aims, previous experience and "maturity" of the organisation. We are experienced in macro interventions over short time frames covering the whole spectrum of Performance Management activities. as well as micro interventions with individuals and teams. We have the capacity to deliver highly bespoke solutions as well as being able to respond quickly with standard solutions where appropriate. We will follow a similar procedure for each albeit on a different scale.

No matter what the scale of the operation we believe in measurable, balanced progress and we will not move forward until we are confident that this can be achieved. We fully expect our interventions to be evaluated during, immediately after and post implementation to ensure compliance with the original objectives.

 

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