A Recipe for Success

Most companies compete in an environment that is in a constant state of flux. Goals change, plans change, customers’ needs evolve, new technologies enable improved cost and quality, competitors change strategies, and the list goes on and on.

As a result, most companies, in one or more phases of their lifecycle, are faced with the challenge to improve their performance, their efficiency and their effectiveness. They are faced with the challenge to improve upon the way they historically have operated, no matter how successful they were in the past. A number of performance management systems have been designed to help you meet this performance challenge with a simple four-step process. 

  1. Define where you are going, why and what’s expected. (Set clear, robust, defined SMART goals.)
  2. Build and work a realistic action plan to achieve the goal (an action plan that takes into account resources and obstacles).
  3. Monitor and respond to feedback loops on progress (rapid response to both project and performance feedback).
  4. Build and manage a high performance information system (a system to support and connect the above three steps).

Step 1:

The first step in aligning human effort and achieving high performance starts with a clear definition of the goals, objectives, or projects — a robust definition that is based upon customer requirements and directly answers the questions of who, what, when and how much. A definition may include the following:

  • What is the defined outcome? What specific results are desired?
  • When must they be delivered?
  • How will we know if we are successful? What does the customer want?
  • What skills should your people develop in the process, so that they can meet this objective and even more challenging assignments in the future?

This up-front agreement on goals is especially important if you want to delegate to or empower people effectively. If you delegate without clarity and without grounding in requirements and measurement, you risk being surprised by less-than-satisfactory results.

Step 2:

The second step for high performance, creating a realistic and well-founded action plan, is essential for reaching the goals you and your direct reports have agreed upon. It is the front end of the “plan, do, review” cycle. A good action plan is the last step in translating and cascading a goal. It specifies the tasks and next steps in a “what, who, by when” format and takes into account the issues and obstacles to be encountered, the resources available and the time available.

Goals without a solid action plan are no more effective than New Year’s resolutions. They exist as aspirations, but don’t provide a realis-tic framework for people to work by. In fact, without an action plan, most people resort to fighting fires and managing a to-do list as a way to work - definitely not high performance.

BENEFITS: Providing managers with a tool that collects and organizes all of the information and expert advice helps track and manage performance in a way that:

  • Increases your group’s probability of meeting challenging business goals.
  • Helps you diagnose and resolve complex people management issues.
  • Helps you create appraisals and skill development plans.
  • Is based on documented results and behavior.
  • Develops employee and team capabilities.
  • Improves employee morale and commitment.
  • Increases your ability to manage large numbers of people.
  • Develops your own managerial skills.
  • Provides a performance audit trail for promotion, compensation and out placement decisions.

Steps 3 and 4 are discussed in detail in the handbook.

Tip from Handbook to Achieve Operational Excellence by William Boothe & Steven Lindborg

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