Some businesses confuse performance management and execution of strategic objectives. It appears that more companies use performance management processes than businesses that have execution processes designed to achieve strategic objectives.
How do performance management and strategic execution differ?
Performance management is typically linked to a role or position. The position will be documented and include a list of competencies that are needed to perform the position. These competencies may be static or changing depending on the position. Changes to competency requirements often occur when new strategic or tactical objectives are launched in the organisation.
A learning management system (LMS) can be used to audit the organisation for gaps in the new competency requirements. Training can be rolled out to address these gaps and enable the organisation to track status and completions. In the LMS, the competencies can be assessed using surveys or assessments by the individual, peers and managers.
The performance management process typically operates on a cycle of goal setting and performance review meetings between managers and their teams. The employee is rated and human resources collects the data. The performance review process is ideally linked to learning and development plans that are then offered via an LMS and tracked accordingly.
Strategic execution is how an organisation translates its strategic objectives to the workforce. The process is designed to ensure that management is able to track and monitor activity and progress to ensure strategic objectives are completed successfully in the timeframe allotted to them; typically a quarter, half year or financial year.
The translation of strategy is often called a ‘cascade’ as it changes form the further it moves away from the board or senior executive level. The strategic objectives are translated to supporting goals, departmental targets, team goals and individual tasks.
In the image below, a client uses Job Titles as opposed to Positions or Roles. This client recently audited their job titles and created new position descriptions aligned with them. It made sense to use job titles as opposed to departments, teams or other organisational structure terminology.
The key ingredient in ensuring that strategic objectives are executed is the use of regular status update meetings involving teams or individuals with their managers. These meetings are focused on the tasks that have been assigned to each individual.
The ‘check in’ meetings are short with a set agenda. The outcome is the manager has an up to date dashboard of project and task status. The employees are able to highlight issues or impediments that may be impacting performance and request assistance from the manager. The combined information captured in these meetings forms one part of the performance data used in performance reviews.
On the strategic level, these meetings enable managers to forecast completion of key objectives as well as flag any possible delays. This process prevents surprises for senior managers who will have less time to take corrective action.
Make performance reviews an effective contributor to your organisation’s health. You can utilise features within the DOTS LMS to help you create and deliver performance reviews without the dread and and trepidation so often part of this business process.
- Don’t accept a 6 or 12 month review cycle as default. You can set the system for shorter periods for review meetings that may include some ‘course correction’, praise and recognition and re-focusing on new objectives.
- Create scales for your key result areas [objectives] that are clear and descriptive. You can create as many points in your scale and add as much text as you need to make the scale very descriptive. The more accurate your scale the less likely there will be ambiguity and misunderstandings during the review process.
- The same goes for your competency scales. There may be a number of competency frameworks operating in your organisation so make the scales as extensive and descriptive to meet the needs of your workforce.
- Encourage the use of the Development Planning module for post-review action plans. You can use both pre-set plans and enable custom plans for people with specific needs or ambitions. One of the biggest complaints about performance appraisals is the lack of follow up actions.
- Show managers how to enter interim notes into to review system. These notes ensure information, ideas and observations are collected in one place and available for the review meetings. Interim notes are a great way to ensure your people receive the recognition they deserve.
- Explore the use of the 360 Profiling module. Many clients are using the 360 module for their senior leadership and developing a range of assessment types. You can also use the 360 profile as a self-assessment tool that is a great re-enforcer for development and learning plans.
- You can assist managers by enabling other managers to ‘review the reviews.’ This is very effective as a coaching tool to help mangers improve their delivery of performance appraisals.
Performance reviews are often met with trepidation by both employees and their managers. This contributes to both a reluctance to conduct them and if they are conducted the quality of the experience and the follow up often destroys any good that could flow from this activity. We recommend that managers meet regularly with their team members and build performance coaching ‘all the time.’ When it comes to review time there will be less friction to having the conversations necessary to help your team to performance improvement.
If you would like some help setting up performance reviews in DOTS LMS, other systems or even on paper, we can help you out. For an initial discussion please get in touch.
9 Tips for Improving Performance Management
1. Performance management is a process and not an event. Include performance management in one-to-one meetings between managers and employees throughout the year. This can include discussions on barriers to execution, lack of clarity on projects/tasks, resource availability, learning opportunities among many others.
2. Create easy to use and easy to understand performance appraisal forms whether they are online or paper based. I have seen some that include scoring formulas and ranking scales that are way too complicated.
3. Ensure there is ‘line of sight’ between an individual’s goals and the organisation’s strategy.
4. Offer coaching and interpersonal communication skills development to managers who may need this training to conduct better performance appraisals and strengthen interpersonal relationships.
5. Include competencies in the appraisal as one means of structuring development plans.
6. There must be follow up actions from the performance appraisals. Too often appraisals are filed away never to be seen again.
7. Ensure the whole performance management processes are on the radar of the management team. Performance management should be a regular topic in meeting agendas dealing with organisational health, succession planning, tactical and strategic decision making.
8. Perform some quality control by undertaking interviews with selected employees to gain feedback on how satisfied they are with the performance management process. Look for some common feedback and ask some good questions to learn how the process can be improved.
9. Your performance appraisal process should include at least one face-to-face meeting with the manager and employee present. At the very least this could be an online meeting with cameras turned on. Believe it or not, I have worked with one company that had a performance appraisal process that only included inputs from the manager and employee entered separately.
Performance management has had a bad reputation for too long based on lousy design, planning and execution. I think the term ‘performance management’ is pretty bad as well but at this point it is a commonly understood term. When done well, performance management can be a positive contributor to organisational health and employee engagement. If you are interested in more information and ideas on how to make your performance management processes more effective then you can get in touch and we will help you out. performance management processes more effective then you can get in touch and we will help you out.
The new range of learning modules we have released are getting a great deal of interest. These modules are designed to deliver competencies to learners with a short video introduction, step by step implementation guides and downloadable job aids.
Research has shown that 70% of development happens on the job and these courses are designed to leverage a more natural way of personal development. Since these content modules are short and include tools to implement the learning in the work environment they are highly suitable for blended delivery.
The Development Plan, Performance Management and Profiling modules in DOTS LMS are ideal for supporting the successful roll-out of these modules. The key is ensuring that the learning activities are supported by coaching and collaboration either individually or in groups.
Development Plans – include these modules as part of your Development Plans and assign them or enable your people to enrol in them out of interest or need. Your managers will be able to track progress and meet to discuss outcomes and the application of the learning.
Performance Appraisals can be used to ensure that one-to-one meetings occur in conjunction with the enrolments in these modules. You can include the competencies delivered by these modules in the Performance Appraisal module. Both the employee and the manager will be able to comment on experience and observation. This has proven a highly effective way to embed these competency based learning modules in an organisation and improve engagement with managers and employees focusing on ‘positives’ [learning & development] in a regular appraisal cycle.
The Profiling Tool in DOTS LMS helps you create as many profile as you need. In one case we developed a 360 Profile that included feedback on a large number of competencies included in the Project Management course catalog. We created both self-assessments and 360 profiles mapped to these competencies to provide some peer review.
If you would like to have a look at these learning content modules please get in touch and we can organise a pilot for you. If you decide to use these modules in your organisation we can help you implement their roll-out using one or all of the DOTS LMS modules mentioned in this blog.
This is a guest post by Cindy Pascale, CEO of Vado Inc.
As a teenager, my first job was working at a Dairy Queen making ice cream cones, sundaes and shakes. On my first day, my manager showed me how to make the famous DQ swirl that sits on top of all DQ cones. First, he showed me how to make a cone identifying all the minor movements that need to be made to create the perfect ice cream cone. Then he handed the controls to me. The first few were sloppy and lopsided. He told me to keep practicing and practicing until I got it. And I did. Within a short while, I was able to create the signature swirl.
Without giving it a name, my manager had me develop my skills to create the perfect DQ swirl by practicing and developing my skills on the job.
Most learning and development professionals can quickly recite these statistics “70% of development happens on the job; 20% through coaching and mentoring; and the final 10% through formal learning.” So this leads to the question, what are companies doing to develop their employees on the job?
Job skills are pretty easy to develop on the job. For instance, managers, technical trainers and front line leaders show employees how to run a piece of equipment. They then have their employees practice until they can run the equipment at the required level of productivity and quality requirements. Yet, in a recent study from the Towards Maturity Benchmark Study 2012 – 2013, they found that while 94% of learning and development leaders seek to speed up the application of learning back into the workplace, only 23% believe they achieve this.”
It is much harder, though, to develop employees’ soft skills through on the job application. That is why training and development leaders turn to Vado. Vado is the only off the shelf e-learning courseware that provides a step by step Implementation Guide to help the learner apply skills on the job to develop their behavior based competencies. The Implementation Guide helps the learner make the transition from the formal learning environment (the e-learning course), to application, by walking the learner through each step of the process to develop on the job and leverage the natural way a person develops.
Companies win because instead of having employees sit in an e-learning course for long periods of time, over 95% of the development time of Vado’s courses is the application on the job. The results are accomplishing two goals at one time: development while doing work that needs to be done.
You can get more information on the large range of modules available here. Request a full catalog of modules and a 3 month pilot by contacting us here.