10 Ways to Keep Executives Focused on Performance Management
Have you ever tried to launch a performance improvement plan, but didn’t have enough support from executive management? Chances are the initiative lacked focus, direction, and ultimately was unsuccessful. This is because executive management plays the biggest role in keeping leaders within the organization focused on what’s important…and that’s improving performance, increasing productivity, and sustaining growth. Truth is, all executives want these things, but often performance improvement is lost among the myriad of organizational objectives. This is why it’s important for performance management teams to learn effective techniques for keeping organizational performance on the forefront. This article focuses on techniques for getting support from senior executives and keeping leaders focused on organizational performance management.
Keeping senior management and executives focused on performance management can prove to be extremely challenging, especially with their busy schedules.
This can be accomplished by keeping the topic of performance management in front of executives, keeping them involved with the initiative and informing them of performance management successes.
Keep the Topic of Performance Management In Front of Executives
This may seem simple, but if executives are not constantly reminded of the value that your performance management initiative will bring to the organization, performance management will get lost among all the challenges and obstacles that are put in front of them. Remember, these are the people who have the authority and influence to get things done. You are competing with the other important initiatives that are taking place within your organization.
Keep Executives Involved With the Performance Initiative
Once the leaders within the organization are focused on performance management, you have to keep them involved with the initiative. This is done by getting them to clearly state what their objectives are and what exactly they are trying to accomplish. This is especially important in organizations where executive management changes or where there are changes in the organizational structure. Don’t assume that you know what senior management objectives are. Often times, when there is new management and changes within the organizational structure, there are also changes in what is perceived as most important. Remember, every executive would like to leave a legacy. Find out what that is and identify how you can measure their successes.
Keep Executives Informed of the Performance Improvements and Successes
Senior management and executives love to hear about successful performance results, for these results are direct reflections of their impact to the organization. Find a way to quantify their efforts and they will be on board for other ideas you bring in front of them. Do this by highlighting successes in executive management initiatives, strategies and other influences. By the way, executives are not the only ones who benefit from positive performance information. When employees are made aware of their impact on the successes of the organization, they become more open to the idea of performance managers coming in and providing input as to how they can perform better. Hopefully, they are rewarded for their contributions and strong performance. But it all starts from the top. If executive management is not on board in the first place, neither will the employees who execute their plan.
Now that we’ve discussed the importance of getting executives focused on a performance management initiative, let’s discuss four techniques for successfully maintaining this focus.
Setup Meetings With Executive Managers
This seems like such an obvious step, but you’d be amazed at how many organizations have performance management programs that do not get the exposure and support it needs from senior management. With the busy schedule of executives, it’s easy to get put on the backburner. This is where you have to be persistent. You’ve already shown them the value of performance management and how it can support their objectives. Now you just need to maintain focus. Setup weekly or monthly meetings with executives. By getting on their schedule with regular meetings you’ll keep performance fresh on their minds.
Deliver Presentations to Executives That Highlight Your Organization’s Greatest Performance Challenges This is where you sell executives on the value of the performance initiative. Create powerful presentations that not only illustrate how well the organization is performing, but also illustrate what the specific obstacles that confront the organization. Remember, anybody can gather performance data. Your responsibility as a performance manager is to present the data in a way that clarifies what the challenges are and how to overcome those challenges. Gathering the data is a science, but displaying that information so that executives can better understand what makes the organization go and what’s holding the organization back is an art.
Communicate Which Divisions / Service Areas Are Not Aligned to Executive Goals and Objectives
Performance alignment is the single, most important aspect to successfully executing a performance strategy. Unless performance is in alignment to organizational goals and objectives, the organization will be limited in executing the overall strategy. Executives know this very well, which is one reason the Balanced Scorecard has amassed so much popularity and become a common word in the business world. If you can communicate to executive management how well the organization is or is not aligned to the organizational goals and objectives, you will definitely get their attention and their time. But be careful as to how to display this information.
As I have written in other articles, how you present performance data, especially poor performance, plays a major role in gaining employee acceptance. While executive management wants to know about these shortcomings, it is only fair and good practice to make sure that the groups that you are reporting on have been involved in the process and have access to your findings. Remember, performance management is only successful if everybody is on board. It is our job as performance managers to balance the negative perceptions, and sometimes egos that come with the performance initiative.
Deliver Supplemental Training and or Workshops on Specific Topics
While executive management makes the key decisions, it’s the employees that drive performance. Therefore, it’s critical that they understand, at a minimum, the basics of performance management, such as understanding organizational objectives, baselining performance, setting goals, and applying performance measures. The biggest mistakes many performance management teams make is that they carry the performance challenges on their shoulders, often defining all of the metrics, and developing the performance plans, which minimizes employee and management input. They understand what drives the business. Increase employee input and feedback by facilitating informational performance management workshops. Teach them about key performance indicators and how to develop winning performance metrics, how they will benefit, and how their contribution impacts the organization. Explain the objectives of executive management. Reassure employees that this is not an exercise to judge their performance and tell them how to do their job. The focus should be on improving performance and empowering everybody to grow. Have problem-solving sessions that address the challenges, bottlenecks and obstacles that limit performance. Remember, a high performing organization is a collective state of mind; a culture.
We’ve discussed what you, as a manager, must do to keep executive management and organizational leaders focused on performance management. We’ve discussed how you can get employees on board and in a high performance mindset. Now, let’s take a look at three things that executives can do to support your initiative and ensure organizational performance success.
Have Executives Reiterate Their Support of the Performance Initiative to the Organization
As mentioned earlier, this is the key to getting employees on board for the performance initiative. When executives make performance a priority, employees follow. Have executives send emails, hold town hall meetings, distribute flyers and anything else that sends the message that performance will be on their radar.
Have Leaders Provide Feedback on What Performance Areas They Feel Are Most Important
We should always be measuring how well the organization is reaching organizational goals. This will always be valuable to executive management. But, just as the organization is constantly changing, so is what’s important to executives on any given day. For example, if your organization is implementing an enterprise-wide application or other initiative, the success of that migration will be very important to senior and executive management. During that time, they will want to know how well the migration is going and how customers (employees in this case) perceive it.
Have Executives Re-evaluate Organizational Objectives Regularly
Have you ever implemented a performance strategy, and got great initial results, only to hit a wall and see performance gains come to a halt? This often happens when we measure the same things for an extended period of time, because what we’re measuring may no longer support the direction the organization is trying to go. It’s important that executive management frequently (at least once a year) readdresses organizational goals and objectives. Remember, your goal as a performance manager is to make sure that your organization reaches its organizational goals. By constantly measuring what’s important to executives, you will no doubt become a key asset for executives.