Continuous measurement, feedback, coaching and improvement.

When we think of teams achieving high levels of performance, professional sports often come to mind. And that’s no coincidence given those workplaces provide all the elements for driving high performance.

This includes statistics and KPIs for everything; daily review and feedback on performances; ongoing training and development programs; expert coaching; and a competitive environment where a scoreboard definitively tells you whether you are winning or not.

Unfortunately, most businesses don’t apply the same rigour to getting the most from the teams they employ.

What is performance management?

Somewhere along the line, performance management has become a term that most people associate with managing people out of their business. Ask anyone what they think of performance reviews and you’ll likely get a grimace in response. Employees resent them, managers hate the time it takes to do them and HR typically struggles to make the process meaningful.

Unfortunately, some businesses still see performance reviews as an annual exercise. This is the worst possible way to give performance feedback, as it will always be shadowed by the effect the review might have on remuneration.

Effective performance management requires a distinct shift away from the ‘manage out’ and annual performance review mindsets toward a process of continuous measurement, feedback, coaching and improvement. It’s about aligning the business’s objectives with simple, important and measurable (SIM) KPIs for teams and individuals so that everyone knows what doing a great job looks like and how the business measures success.

Designing a high performance management system

Establishing a high performance management system requires a disciplined approach and training of leaders to ensure consistent standards and habits are maintained. This includes:

Today, software is replacing paper-based approaches to performance management. Technology-enabled performance management tools simplify the manager’s evaluation and feedback process and significantly reduce the time taken and frustration associated with performance management.

There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to performance management – and it’s easier to toss something out than to decide what to put in its place. An effective performance management system only comes from giving careful consideration to business strategy, structure, capacity and capabilities.

We have seen performance management approaches of all shapes and sizes and know what works and what doesn’t. We use our experience and insights to design a system that is more robust and effective at driving high performance.

Checkside’s performance management design process

Step 1 – Fact Find and Analysis

  • Review of your business model, strategy, key financial data, organisational structure, objectives, trends, capability of managers and current approaches to performance management
  • Review of strengths, opportunities and threats / gaps
  • Preparation of insights for discussion in design workshop

Step 2 – Performance Management System Design

  • Work through performance management objectives and constraints
  • Workshop alternative approaches and processes, including technology-enabled performance management tools
  • Present to your key executives for their feedback and buy-in
  • Confirm model, process, feedback rhythms and training plan

Step 3 – Implementation

  • Set cascading objectives for each team
  • Review or build team scorecards and KPI led performance profiles for employees
  • Select and install technology-enabled performance management platform, including performance and engagement assessment matrix
  • Set model and rhythms for delivering and capturing continuous feedback with teams and individuals
  • Document IP, processes and training plans
  • Deliver clear communications and ongoing training to leaders and team members

Step 4 – Review

  • Review performance management outcomes and scorecards quarterly
  • Deliver additional / targeted communications and training to leaders and team members as required

The business case for performance management

Effective performance management systems are key to boosting the productivity of your business and retaining A-Grade players. In fact, companies who are capable in this area outperform their less capable peers by more than 200% in terms of both revenue and profitability.

For boards, business owners and executives, a modern performance management system provides clear visibility on performance across the business. This allows for trends to be identified and remedial action to be implemented quickly.

And for all the talk about the importance of culture (it is important!), it’s impossible to build a winning culture without your employees first having a clear picture and regular feedback on what high performance looks like.


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