Herding employees to maximise value creation (1)

This blog is a continuation of the People OV sub-series, the last in the Effective organisation series. The blog delves into another critical lever of the T.L.C for employees theme – individual performance management.

Staff Performance Mgt. – a jigsaw art

We just can’t do away with human beings at companies. Even the best computer scientists haven’t created as yet, an organisation that is run without people.  Human intelligence is still needed to run an organisation.  Indeed, people are the organisation’s primary asset.  Put another way, organisations are created by people for the people.

However, while the people asset needs to be given T.L.C as we have mentioned already, it also needs to be monitored to ensure that organisations are getting value for money.  Value creation by individuals and teams has to be managed.  There has to be, where people are assigned jobs, some kind of outcomes measurement – to be specific, individual performance measurement. If not, all other OV’s won’t create value for organisations

We have written on this People OV sub-series that to get the best out of an organisation’s employees, organisations have to give employees T.L.C. However, we have also cautioned, and for a good reason, that employee T.L.C assurance does not equate to appeasement and letting staff off easily.

We always remind those in employment that they are lucky to work for whoever they work for, after all, it’s them that looked for the job. If individuals don’t perform at work, they should suffer the consequences; that is not being personal, it’s business!

So how do organisations provide T.L.C and not appease at the same time?

Well, the answer is simple – a robust individual performance management system. However, as many organisations big and small will tell you, it’s not easy to co-create a viable and sustainable performance management system.

There are just too many OD. factors at play including the traditional distrust by the employee, of performance evaluations. The latter is a human thing, and it’s up to organisations to make sure their performance evaluation systems are trusted by those whose performance they are designed to measure.

“Performance appraisal system should be effective as a number of crucial decisions are made on the basis of score or rating given by the appraiser, which in turn, is heavily based on the appraisal system.”

Performance management: like building a jigsaw puzzle

Robust performance management systems are like a jigsaw puzzle. Jigsaw puzzles often require the assembly of oddly shaped interlocking and tessellating pieces; when complete the jigsaw puzzle provides the full concept of what it’s all about and with it, fulfilment. Puzzles are a complex phenomenon – that many don’t perceive as such.

There are various types of jigsaw puzzles – some are spherical, and in this digital age, puzzles even show optical illusions. Good jigsaw puzzles have got specific characteristics: the pieces usually don’t have straight edges; pieces come in uneven shapes and sizes, and they are fragmented yet have to be envisioned as a whole.

In effect, the various parts of the jigsaw are only explicable by reference to the whole. When one starts to assemble the first piece of the puzzle, they must also concurrently ideate the position of the last piece.

Classic performance management systems are like a jigsaw puzzle. They compromise miniature HR elements that when put together, complete the whole. The whole, coming at the end of an individual’s appraisal process, is the feeling of individual accomplishment, fulfilment, and the authentic appreciation of what they need to do better at. It’s at the endpoint that the individual should accept the good and bad about themselves – without losing the feel-good aspect.

Organisation’s performance management systems can take various jigsaw puzzle manifestations:

  • An unassembled but logical jig-saw puzzle – all that it needs is assembly by a committed individual
  • Jig-saw puzzle pieces that aren’t cut to any pattern and can’t form a tightly knit and complete jigsaw puzzle
  • Straight-edged and even jigsaw puzzle pieces that make puzzle assembly too simplistic to be taken seriously by anyone that understands the art of building puzzles
  • The good old, well thought out puzzle with uneven edges and shapes, extremely fragmented, yet with clear logic to it

All the above four jigsaw puzzle scenarios manifest in different performance management paradigms at the organisation:

  1. The unassembled but logical jigsaw puzzles – are those organisations wherein the elements, and good ones at that, of the performance cycle, are defined and available but are never adequately put to use during performance evaluation. These organisations are slumbering giants that miss out on the opportunity to maximise value from their staff – via the individual’s performance evaluation. Such organisations tend to cherry pick which pieces of the jigsaw influence a performance conversation. The obvious danger in the latter approach is leaving out the pieces that are critical value creation levers at the organisation and the feeling of dissatisfaction by the evaluatees
  2. The jigsaw puzzle pieces that aren’t cut to any pattern and can’t build a tightly knit and complete jigsaw puzzle – these organisations don’t have their performance management variables right. Performance management at such entities is patch quilt and mostly an afterthought. Organisations of this nature conduct evaluations as a response to the one-off-situation like having to fire an individual staff.  In many instances, these organisations leave it too late for performance evaluation to be useful in taking action against errant personnel
  3. The straight ‘edged’ and ‘even’ jigsaw puzzle pieces and their simplicity – this type of organisation conducts performance management to fulfil either regulatory requirement or to portray the image of an organisation that aligns with best practice HR management. Many small businesses fall into this category when it comes to performance management. Performance management is a tick-box exercise
  4. And finally, the good old, well thought out puzzle – these are organisations with robust and win-win staff performance evaluation systems. They are models of performance management best practices

Organisational chiefs should ask which of the four categories above their organisation falls into. Hopefully, number four and at worst, number one.  After all, if the people performance evaluation piece is not right, value creation won’t accrue from the other OV’s: Leadership, Strategy, and Design

So how should organisations build the good old well thought out individual performance management paradigm? See you next week for series (2)

From the Effectiveness lab, wishes for a Merry Christmas and Prosperous 2018!

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