March News Letter 2009

In early January, President Obama named Nancy Killefer chief performance officer (CPO). Not too many days later she stepped down, and the government CPO topic vanished from the front pages.

The term, however, has picked up steam in the private sector and performance has become a popular topic.

My question today is this: If you don't have a chief performance officer per se — and most companies do not — who in your organization plays that role?

Do you know who's in charge of performance? And further, do you know what drives it in your organization?  Who's in charge of performance?  All organizations have performance "owners."

Business leaders, for example are responsible for operational business performance. The CEO steers strategic planning. The vice president of manufacturing is responsible for meeting production quotas and quality standards, and the vice president of sales has sales quotas.

Similarly, financial leaders monitor spending, headcount and expenses. Their job is not to drive performance, however. Rather, they monitor financial performance and give business and HR leaders information needed to realign resources. Ultimately, then, the responsibility for improving performance goes back to the business leaders.

So where do HR and L&D leaders come in?

I submit that they engineer an organization's performance, and indeed, that strong HR and L&D leaders perform the duties of chief performance operators.

They initiate and oversee a company's people processes, the processes that really matter and the tools that drive success:
 • performance management 
 • goal alignment
 • leadership and supervisory development
 • succession management
 • total rewards
Strong people processes improve bottom line
People make decisions in companies every day. They decide what to do, how to behave, how to deal with customers, how to interact with others and where to spend money. These individual decisions form the lifeblood of organizational performance.

When the people side of the business is poorly managed, weak leadership, low engagement, misalignment and skills gaps creep in to negatively affect the company's performance. Dysfunctional and unproductive decisions result, and vast amounts of money are wasted.

Look at the cost of ignoring disengaged employees, for example.

According to Gallup, a mere 29 percent of American workers are actively engaged. Gallup statistics also show that 54 percent of employees are not engaged and 17 percent are actively disengaged. Unhappy workers cost the American business economy up to $350 billion annually in lost productivity.

Moreover, the sad truth is that disengaged employees aren’t born that way. They’re created by ineffective, poorly trained managers, and by the absence of strong human resource management within corporations.

On the other hand, when a company creates strong people processes — processes that improve employee engagement, for example — its performance and bottom line vastly improve.

Companies with a strong learning culture, for example, are 12 – 15 % more profitable over a 10-year period than those without, according to research by Bersin and Associates.  Their research also shows that organizations with strong competency-based performance management processes drive higher revenue growth and profitability by industry.

So here's the bottom line: To greatly improve your company's performance, initiate and continue people processes. But not just any people processes. The underlying secret to success is to customize your people processes to your organization's "people performance model.” Read on to learn more.

Tips for building a people performance model in your organization  

What is the people performance model of your organization? In other words, what makes your organization tick, what's its secret ingredient?

To find out, ask these four questions:

1) What are the critical roles that drive success in your organization?
2) Who are the high-performers? What is their profile?
3) What cultural and leadership elements drive success in your organization?
4) Why do people fail in your organization?

After answering these questions, ask yourself another: How can I use this information to build, reinforce and improve HR and L&D processes?

Say, for example, you own a retail store. You analyze store performance and find three driving factors for level of engagement: employee-manager relationship, job fit and career opportunity, and total rewards. And further, you find two pivotal job roles driving these three engagement indexes: store manager and store sales manager.

You would then use this knowledge to plan your course of action. You might focus on helping store managers better coach, align and communicate with employees, for instance. Or perhaps you would decide to initiate a supervisory development program.

Can you see how important it is to focus on understanding the core people model in your organization?

Work with your leadership to understand your company's secret ingredient and how it affects your business. And then, to improve your organization's success, build your people processes around this business-driven solution.

Your Solution Toolbox: Measuring and strengthening what matters

HR Consulting
For many organizations, the next step is to seek professional assistance to find out how to improve the effectiveness of your recruitment process.  Let’s Talk! We offer a no obligation consultation to informally assess your current policies, procedures, and practices. This may help determine what’s missing in your current programs to meet the above recommendations. 

Measuring What Matters
If your organization is typical, you suffer from low employee engagement.  Remember, Gallup says that only 29 percent of American workers are engaged.  Most likely, because of this you also suffer from increased costs and decreased profitability.

Your best bet for putting these problems to rest is to nip engagement problems in the bud by measuring and strengthening the three drivers of engagement: 

 1) Job fit and career opportunity
 2) Employee-manager relationship
 3) Total rewards

Profiles' tools can help.

  • Use ProfileXT® to ensure that your employees work where they belong in your organization.  By measuring job-related qualities that make people productive, the ProfileXT® will help you determine whether an employee fits a particular job.ProfileXT® measures thinking and reasoning style, behavioral traits, and occupational interests. You can also use ProfileXT® to assess top performers in a given position to establish benchmarks for other candidates for that position.
  • Use Profiles' WorkForce Compatibility™ to improve employee-manager relationships.
    Profiles' WorkForce Compatibility™ measures and analyzes seven characteristics in employee and manager that define their relationship.
    • Reports from Profiles WorkForce Compatibility™ help them:
      • Communicate better 
      • Spot conflicts before they occur 
      • Successfully resolve problems that arise
  • Use Profiles' Performance Indicator™ to learn what motivates an employee.
    Profiles' Performance Indicator™ measures key behavioral tendencies, such as productivity, work quality, initiative, teamwork, problem solving and response to stress and motivation.  

Knowing these things about your employee will help you understand how to manage and motivate him or her.

MG Assessments has added a blog that will make our site more informative and interactive.  See my blog: Updated regularly will focus on the hottest Human Resource Issues.  This months issue - Driving productivity during tough economic times! 

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