Managing people’s performance plays a major role in ensuring the success of any organisation. It is advisable to have a robust performance management process that helps companies define roles, accountabilities and set measurable targets in line with the key results areas of a particular role. In addition, organisations must put in place a measurable plan with key indicators of success to effectively ascertain or differentiate between high-performing and poor-performing individuals in the organisation.
Often regarded as a “top-down approach”, an effective performance management process helps to create a clear line of sight between what individuals are assigned to do and the overall business goals. Hence, setting a good context for your performance planning process helps to figure out what measures to tie to your performance goals. That is why, the clarity of goals and proper cascading of organisational goals are stages that must not be taken for granted in any organisation in order to achieve great results. And the clarity of goals must derive from targets that the board or executive team is set to achieve within a given period. The business direction must be properly set to help every layer in the organisation understand the business’ priorities and focus areas. When this is done effectively, it helps various functions or directorates to align their functional or divisional goals with the business priorities set by the board or executive team. This is then followed with the cascading of defined goals and priority areas to the various teams which then filters down to individuals within the organisation.
I would say that, it is important to start every change project (including the performance management project) with a very clear and measurable goal. According to Grenny, Patterson, Maxfield, McMillan and Switzler (2013) in their book titled, Influencer – The new science of leading change;
“Start every change project with a clear and compelling statement of the goal you’re trying to achieve. Measure your progress. Don’t leave it to intuition or hunches. Measure your measures by the behaviour they influence. And finally, measure the right thing, and measure it frequently”.
Once a clear line of sight is effectively created across all levels in the organisation, monitoring and performance measurement become easier to manage. At the monitoring stage, the organisation focuses all its organisational systems towards ensuring that the performance at all levels are monitored against agreed goals and business priorities in order to drive accountability and business results. Performance evaluation then follows at the right time based on the performance management cycle defined by the organisation. At the evaluation phase, each employee becomes accountable for justifying how their efforts over a period aligned with the defined business’ goals and priorities cascaded to each level. This is what we often call the “performance appraisal” i.e. the evaluation (scoring using appropriate rating scales) of business priorities and goals based on pre-agreed key performance indicators.
It is ideal for organisations to begin the evaluation process at the organisational level, i.e. evaluating the overall performance of the entire business before extrapolating it to the various components or divisions that make up the organisation. This process ultimately, extends to the individual employee level in the organisation. To boost talent engagement and incentivise performance, many organisations tie certain rewards to the outcomes of the performance management process e.g. salary increases, bonuses, promotions, nominations into the talent pool or talent programmes, selection for cross-functional projects or assignments etc. The outcomes of the performance management process should also lead to the agreement or compilation of Personal Development Programmes (PDP) for every individual in the organisation. Consequence management is also an option for poor performers at this stage. This could include placement on Performance Improvement Plan (PIP), exit decision, coaching support etc. Whatever outcomes that are desired or intended from the performance management process must be properly defined, cascaded and reinforced with ongoing communication across different layers in the organisation.
Evidently, performance management is instrumental to the success of the talent management process. When talents cannot relate their contributions in the organisation to a structured and fair performance management process, it affects their engagement level and willingness to put in discretionary effort. Therefore, organisations should strive to create the environment and culture that enable talent engagement and a craving for performance.
Talent engagement is key. Engagement breeds motivation. When we consider the parameters or dimensions of engagement in any organisation, dimensions such as “work”, “workplace” and “workforce” become very important. Talents want to have “challenging and meaningful” jobs that help them achieve their very best. When a job becomes too routine and does not come across as challenging, high-flying talents easily get bored and disengaged. This makes them more likely to jump at alternatives even if it means resignation from their current organisation. Also, talents thrive in a conducive workplace where support structures are provided to help build viable careers. Workplace culture is significantly important in helping the growth of talents. The effectiveness of any talent process is largely influenced by the prevailing organisational culture. Therefore, talent custodians must ensure that they pay attention to institutionalising an enabling culture within the workplace that allows talents to thrive. Considering the changing world of work as influenced by the advent of coronavirus, the dynamics as to what constitute a workplace has been significantly altered. Every employee’s home now seems to be a potential workplace as the concept of working from home becomes a norm in various organisations. Though, it may be challenging for employers to extend or enforce the organisation’s cultural practices in their employees’ homes, the flexibility that working from home provides to a number of employees serves as an attractive value proposition. Finally, the mix of workforce propels engagement in the organisation. Where you have an organisation with a blend of experience, passion for support, coaching, challenge for risk-taking and innovation, talents are influenced to put their energy to appropriate use. Where these features are absent, many end up disengaged and perhaps, cease from giving their discretionary effort.
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Adebayo Akinloye, Assc.CIPD, ACIPM
Global Talent Solutions/HR Consultant/Trainer/Author
Author: Talent management Agenda in a Post COVID-19 World