Performance Management is the Structure for Performance Excellence
In my previous article, I talked about the importance of creating a culture of performance excellence. And as I emphasized, developing a culture takes action! So now I will introduce the framework for planning and taking specific actions to move forward with performance improvement.
What is Performance Planning and Management?
First and foremost – it’s a Results Based approach to management. That is, we focus on the tangible, measurable results (outputs) that need to be achieved, rather than the process. This is quite different than managing by control, where we define the specific activities of employees. In a results based approach, we define WHAT they need to deliver, and allow them the flexibility in HOW.
There is a lot of focus on visionary leadership skills (and no doubt they are important!). But this needs to be balanced with the rigour, process and structure of good management. It’s not enough to say we are going to do great things. We need a systematic approach to reach our goals. This system is known as Performance Management. However I feel it’s more appropriate to call it Performance Planning and Management. Because putting focus on planning will make our job of managing much more obvious. Then we can manage based on the plan.
Why is Performance Planning and Management important?
Managers can be pulled in many directions with day to day operations. If we allow ourselves to be pulled by everything that seems urgent, we may never focus on the things that move our organization forward. So we need to be proactive. That is, we need to set goals that balance both the day to day operations and moving our organization in the desired direction.
Performance Planning and Management connects strategic management with operations. It ensures that we focus on specific and measurable targets that move us to our goals. We regularly assess where we are at, and make course corrections. And because it’s measurable, we know when we are successful, and can thus celebrate that success.
How does Performance Planning and Management work?
Consider – how does your own business unit (the department, section, program, etc. that you are responsible for) support the Strategic Plan? How does it ultimately support the vision of your organization? How does each of your employees support that vision? As a Manager, you usually have to negotiate back and forth between the realm of Corporate Goals (Executives) and Operations (Employees). You are accountable to executive to generate results which support the corporate goals. So you need to ensure that you understand the results required and how each of your employees will contribute to those results.
In my Strategic Performance Planning & Management course, we first look at the different and often confusing terminology of Performance Management. Vision, Mission, Values, Strategy, Goals, Objectives, Measures, Outputs, Outcomes, Targets and Baselines. We examine Kaplan and Norton’s Balanced Score Card as a tool for you to translate higher level Corporate Objectives into measurable goals for your business unit. To reinforce this understanding, we work through a case study.
From your business unit goals, you can now consider what each of your employees needs to contribute. We then examine the employee performance plan as the basis for this, thus ensuring that each employee will contribute to the results you need. And this plan will form the basis of employee evaluation down the road. Once again, we work through a case study of both performance planning, and then performance evaluation.
In my next article, I will provide some specific strategies for providing feedback and motivation for individual employees.
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I recommend starting with my course Strategic Performance Planning & Management, as it provides the foundation for other courses - such as Improve Employee Performance and Strategic Planning for Managers.
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