Do you want to be part of the evolution?

I’m going to put forward something that's outside the square. It's certainly not accepted business wisdom. And right now it isn't something practiced widely.

Here it is… “Performance management is the most important activity in any business or organisation”.

Sure a lot of businesses would see performance management as very important, but not the most important activity they do.

But then there was a time when it was accepted that the only way for technical or skilled people to advance in an organisation was by moving into management roles. But a great number of skilled people aren't suited to this, they're more satisfied using their talents.

If you’re out there Manfred, the guy who took me for logic 101, here’s my reasoning…

A business really needs a purpose and goal – otherwise you have no idea what's important, what you want to achieve, and in what direction you are travelling. What's worse, your employees have no direction either.

So where's your organisation going now?

OK we agree that a business needs a goal. This includes short, medium and long term goals.

Alright, so how is a business going to meet that goal?

Did you say "by doing a, b and c"? Nice!

OK, now who is going to do a, b and c?

"People"…..? Oh smashing!

So, if people are the only way of achieving the goals of an organisation, then letting them know what those goals are and how they contribute to them is critical. If I'm in your team, I can't achieve our goals unless you tell me what they are. This is the foundation for success and the cornerstone of performance management.

At this point ask yourself, do you know your objectives and are they in line with your organisation's goals? What about your team – are their objectives in line with yours? Do they understand the importance of their objectives to the achievement of your organisation's goals?

A foundation isn't much on its own. For goals to be achieved, you need to have people equipped to achieve them. They need to stay focused and motivated. And they need to know how they are progressing. People need to be recognised and rewarded for their contribution. This is what performance management is all about.

Are you focussed and motivated. Do you get feedback on your progress. Do you have a sense of being part of something. Are your achievements recognised?

Is performance management the most important activity in your organisation?

I see a quiet evolution. Where winners are freeing their people from the tedium of their job description. Making them part of something. Motivated with a sense of achievement. Recognised for their contribution. In an organisation that sets out to do something and does it!

Do you want to be part of the evolution?

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About Jon Windust

Jon Windust is the CEO at Cognology – Talent management software for the future of work. Over 250 businesses use Cognology to power cutting-edge talent strategy. View all posts by Jon Windust

3 responses to “Do you want to be part of the evolution?

  • Jill

    Looking forward to more posts – particularly more info on how to align organisation, team and individual goals.

  • David

    I fully agree with your thoughts. I have worked with, and for, many organisations where the company goals and direction were not well understood or supported by the people at the coalface who had to make it happen…and I have yet to see a company vision or mission statement that had any real substance to it or strategy supporting it.

    I have also seen the occasional organisation that literally hummed. Everyone knew why they were there, what part they played, felt valued and part of the team and were able to grow with the organisation.

    Guess which of the two categories had the highest output, lowest staff turnover and lowest sick days taken?

    There is an aspect that you didn’t quite touch on that I think is key to achieving this sort of success.

    You write about having clear goals, clearly communicating those goals and getting people to buy in on them. However, this is only part of the equation.

    To use an analogy, lets assume you wish to get in your car and drive to a destination that you have never been to before. The first thing you do is pull out your road map…but which map? Unless you can accurately identify your current position, you have no reference from which to work from so you don’t know the correct direction or the available paths to follow. Knowing where you are is as important as knowing your destination.

    Once you know these two points as precisely as practical, the next step is to decide on the most efficient path…what raods are available, what is the traffic likely to be on each road, do I take a tollway that might cost more but get me there quicker than a secondary road, etc.

    As you undertake your journey you also need to regularly check your current position and compare it with your chosen route on the map and to re-plan the remaining sections of your journey as you come across unexpected obstacles.

    To bring this back to our context of performance management, once your entire organisation has a common, well defined goal, you need to clearly understand the required capabilities and capacities of you people to be to achieve this goal.

    You then need to clearly identify the current capabilities and capacities of the people, then to plan, communicate and implement activities that will develop your people to the required level.

    As the organisation moves towards its goal, you need to regularly check your current position and assess your progress. Challenges and obstacles will be encountered that will require an ability to re-assessment and adjust earlier plans.

    The results of doing this will not only allow your business to grow efficiently but will also improve moral and long term committment from your people as they see, and progress down, a clear path.

    A good organisation has well defined and communicated goals that are shared by all. A good performance management system is one that provides the organisation with both a method of continuously and accurately measuring its current capabilities and capacities relative to what is required and to provide regular reviews and adjustments to staff development plans.

    I look forward to reading your future articles.

  • jon

    Thanks Jill and Dave for your comments.

    Jill, these are really key topics and I’ll definitely cover them soon – so stay tuned!

    You’ve made some great points Dave. I’ll do my best to cover the issues you have raised. I agree – you definitely need to know and keep checking your current position.

    I love your comment about organisations that hummed.

    I’m glad you want to be part of the evolution – let help some people hum!

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