Fellow writers may appreciate the incredible amount of angst involved in trying to write about this highly technical subject in a way that conveys how exciting and powerful it really is without boring the stuffing out of all the non-geeks. Performance management, simply put, is the single greatest tool I can think of to drive tangible, measurable performance improvement in your company that results in more revenue and more profit. All the time. Every time. The problem is that it’s not particularly sexy, or magical. It’s just the thorough application of six behavioral science-based interventions. I write about it because it’s my passion to share this with small and medium sized businesses, to give them a strategic advantage in the marketplace. But it’s a constant internal geek/entertainer struggle, and the struggle is real!
In my last article we talked about targeting and about purpose. The geek in me loves targeting, because that’s where we get to dissect your company down to the gnat’s behind and figure out exactly which behaviors will drive your success. The coach in me sees the value, but would much rather talk about purpose. The purpose of your company is your ‘why’, and will keep you excited about it even after that strange letdown that occurs when goals are achieved. And they will be achieved.
The great thing about this performance management system is that it always works. The bad thing is that it works even if you’re ‘managing’ the wrong thing. The very first step, identifying your critical behaviors, is done by working through, together, the processes and workflow of your company until we’re all confident we’ve hit on the critical behaviors.
One of my business mentors always said that if 51% percent of your decisions are good ones, then you’re doing well. So there is at least the possibility that the behaviors or accomplishments in the targeting phase are not the ones that actually drive your success. Hold on to this scary thought, because it’s coming up later (and don’t worry, it’s not as bad as you think, just something to be aware of).
The next steps are task clarification and tracking. In laymen’s terms, that means explaining to your employees what, why and how to do the tasks you’ve targeted, and then figuring out a way to measure those tasks to make sure they’re occurring.
So to recap the process; you figure out what the most important behaviors are, you explain all this to your employees, and then you start measuring these behaviors. In a perfect world, we’d collect baseline data and do a whole ABA thing (which I’ll explain if you’re interested…just email me). I’ve rarely seen this happen in organizations for two reasons. First, once companies see improvements, they’re reluctant to do something out of scientific interest to see if the improvements go away! Second, some of the interventions just can’t be taken away. You can’t take away the information employees receive in the task clarification.
Task clarification and tracking WILL increase the behaviors you’ve targeted. But what if we picked the wrong behaviors to measure? For example, perhaps we want to even out a revenue stream that is too unpredictable. Maybe during targeting we identify that they problem is the customers we’re going after, and decide we need to pursue clients in Industry X to avoid the fluctuations. We go through the sales process and decide to track initial meetings with clients in the new demographic.
After explaining this, and tracking the meetings (and conducting random, unpredictable cross checks to ensure the meetings are actually taking place), after about six weeks we see a definite increase in these initial meetings. It’s working! Depending on the length of the sales cycle, we find out that we’re proposing and closing more of these clients. Great! But is the revenue really evening out? That’s why you’re doing this, after all. If you are seeing results, fantastic! Mission accomplished and now let’s make sure your operations team is doing all the right things to keep up with your sales demands.
On the other hand, if you’re getting significant improvement across the board in calls, closed sales and revenue in industry X but it’s just as cyclical as before, we might need to dive back in and see if we can even out the revenue, or if it would take you too far away from your core competence and you are better served figuring out how to manage to the fluctuations. In any event, measure the calls, measure the closed sales, AND measure the outcomes. That will allow you to course correct as necessary.
The benefits of embarking on this far outweigh any costs, even including the risk of targeting the wrong thing. A properly executed performance management project has far reaching benefits to your company and more than pays for itself with the financial improvements you’ll reap. Are you interested in trying out this powerful technology in your own department? I’d love to chat with you. We have a variety of options for small and medium organizations to take advantage of this powerful tool.
If you’re eager to get started, click here to get a free targeting tool so you can begin to identify the mission-critical behaviors in your company.
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Carrie Maldonado is the founder of Today’s Leadership Solutions, a Seattle-based consulting firm providing comprehensive organizational development solutions for companies who are growing and who truly value their people. With certified Executive Coaches, Organizational Behavior Management (OBM) practitioners, SPHR-certified HR professionals, and Organizational Development Specialists, Carrie’s team brings a unique perspective and a cross-functional approach to providing workplace solutions that work. Carrie can be reached for consultation at firstname.lastname@example.org