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Using Performance Management to Create a Culture of Excellence

We are pleased to have another guest blog, this time by Amy Rasdal, founder of Rasdal Associates, Inc. and Billable at the BeachTM.

Have you ever attended a meeting where people promised important deliverables but never followed through? Conversely, have you ever committed to a deadline knowing full well that you couldn’t meet it but that no one would hold you accountable for it?

According to recent research, 78% of all company leaders identify “getting the right things done” as a significant problem in their companies. It’s not surprising, then, that accountability has become a critical competency missing in many companies.

Some of this is due to the fast-paced nature of today’s business environment. With so many demands on our time and attention, we can barely keep up with the never-ending crises of the day; much less accomplish everything we have committed to doing. But a lack of accountability also stems from the absence of a (formal and informal) performance management system. Without such a system in place, clearly connected to strategic goals and objectives, it can be difficult, if not impossible, to engage people in following through on doing the right things in a timely manner.

A structured performance management process can strongly support ongoing efforts to build accountability into the organizational culture. It helps to keep everyone aligned with the strategic goals, and it focuses people’s attention on what needs to get done, by when. Without it, management can easily get off track and forget to measure and reward what we have told everyone is important.

Specifically, an effective performance management system:

  • Communicates how individuals contribute to business success and how they will be evaluated.
  • Aligns individual goals with key business priorities, resulting in greater focus, more efficient use of resources, and less time wasted on non-value added activities.
  • Provides a comprehensive system for recognizing what gets done and reinforcing how it is achieved.
  • Creates a discipline of measuring progress against specific goals and making adjustments as necessary.

In most companies, performance management consists of a once-a-year performance review session that is dreaded by manager and employee alike. To achieve the desired results (i.e., improved accountability), performance management needs to be an ongoing activity, not a one-time event. It requires two-way conversations between manager and employee so that both are working from the same page in terms of what is being managed and how it is being managed.

A good performance management process involves five key steps:

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