Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Exploring Employees Performance Potential

A powerful transformation is underway: more successful small and
mid-sized businesses are embracing “strategic HR” to drive higher
performance, productivity and profits. But you probably know it hasn’t
always been this way…
That Was Then
Historically, HR has not been viewed as a key businesses driver, unlike “vital” functions such as sales, marketing,
or operations. It’s no wonder, then, that HR unfairly earned a reputation as a tactical back-office task, or worst
case, completely unrelated to the overall health and success of the company.
…This Is Now!
Today, the role of HR has been radically redefined and more emphasis has been placed on effectively managing every
aspect of the employee lifecycle, from talent acquisition, to performance measurement to employee compensation.
This amazing shift in HR starts at the most fundamental level: helping raise the bar on individual performance not
only helps employees realize their full potential, but also the company as a whole. In other words, strategic HR is
ensuring that companies aren’t leaving huge amounts of money on the table in the form of missed profits due to
unrealized performance and productivity.

1. Make Sure Employees’ Daily Efforts Contribute
To Your Company’s Business Objectives
The first step in unlocking your company’s true potential is ensuring your
employees understand how their specific job/role contributes to achieving
your company’s business objectives. Without a consistent process of setting
goals for each individual employee that map directly to your company’s
objectives, they may be spending too much time on the wrong activities.
In fact, leading industry analysts estimate nearly 95% of workers are
unaware of their company’s top objectives. And, that’s often because an
effective process to communicate and track progress against these objectives
does not exist. So how can your company expect its people to work toward a
shared vision — and deliver bottom-line results — if they’re unclear what’s
expected of them?
Establishing a formal process for creating relevant goals for each employee,
and monitoring/measuring performance against company objectives,
unquestionably results in both individual and company success. The benefits
of this approach deliver a host of positive results, such as:
• Employees and managers achieve more — through greater visibility
into both individual and company-wide goals.
• Employees and managers see the goal plan — and understand how
their individual goals fit into the company’s business objectives.
• Creating shared employee responsibility — by cascading his or her
goals with others in the company.
• Managers more easily stay in touch with employees’ progress —
during every phase of goal completion, and offer immediate reinforcement
or coaching to keep performance and deadlines on track.
Keep in mind your success in aligning employee and company goals depends
on an open and ongoing dialogue with management. This is the only way to
ensure business strategy is woven in to all HR efforts, including an
automated process.

2. Keep Employees Energized and Engaged
Jack Welch, former CEO of GE — and one of the most respected business
leaders of our time — wrote the book on motivating people. One of his key
insights to driving phenomenal performance shows how much faith Mr. Welch
had in the power of engaging and inspiring people; in a nutshell, he believed
the ultimate goal of managing is not to get an employee to perform as
expected, but to have them willingly go above and beyond the call of
duty — because they want to.
Building a culture in which employees are energized and engaged to perform
at maximum levels (and beyond) requires both strong management skills, and
a consistent process for providing accurate, quality feedback. Easier said
than done, of course. But recent progress in HR-software designed specifically
to address this challenge is helping significantly. There are now effective means
like writing assistants and coaching tools that can significantly improve the
overall quality of feedback, and help managers provide:
• More relevant reviews — writing and goal management tools help
managers deliver meaningful, accurate reviews so employees understand
their performance against goals.
• Richer, more meaningful feedback — built-in writing tools ensure
consistency between managers, and deliver a deeper level of feedback.
• Stronger, more relevant coaching — managers receive specific,
actionable suggestions for coaching employees through a range of issues.
Ultimately, quality feedback is what keeps your employee’s head in the game
and can be used to inspire and fire them up. It also increases job satisfaction
and reduces turnover — two critical factors that most small- to mid-sized
businesses say they are concerned with on a daily basis.

3. Develop, Implement and Reinforce a
Pay-for-Performance Culture
The importance of having the best people in key areas is critical to the
success of your business. It’s no secret the key to retaining the best and
brightest talent is recognizing and compensating top performers. According
to Giga Information Group, retention can be improved by meritocratic
management — or pay-for-performance — by up to 27%.
Establishing a pay-for-performance culture is considered the #1 tool for
achieving financial results by senior executives. Today’s HR technologies
now give managers easy access to all the information they need to reward
individuals for actual performance — 360 degree feedback, goal alignment
metrics, review data and performance notes taken throughout the year.
This allows managers to make consistent, quantifiable and fair decisions,
and avoid compensating the wrong people. Other positive benefits include
the ability to:
• Track employee progress against performance goals.
• Identify who is delivering against expectations,
and contributing the most.
• Improve ongoing job satisfaction, productivity and retention
by recognizing and rewarding exceptional effort.
• Avoid overcompensating by seeing where compensation
and performance are not aligned.

4. Automate Performance Management
From Start To Finish
Technology designed specifically to help organizations manage and optimize
employee performance has advanced considerably over the years. Yet it’s
interesting to note that most companies still rely on paper-based processes
and outdated performance management methods. By adopting a system
that manages the entire employee lifecycle — from performance assessment
to goal alignment to employee retention — it’s safe to say automation can
truly transform your business.
A tangible example of how automation pays off can be seen in the massive
improvements around performance reviews. Once a source of great pain and
often viewed as a waste of time, performance reviews have been converted
by HR technology into a simple, cost-effective process. The result: managers
are freed to up to focus on the tasks that are most meaningful—and critical—
to achieving company goals. This clearly illustrates how both employee and
company-wide performance potential can be unlocked by HR automation.
Here are other key benefits your company can realize by automating
performance management:
• Easily implement performance management best practices
• Increase goal visibility and boost shared accountability
• Use data more effectively to gain powerful insights
about company performance
• Ensure compliance and employee participation
• Eliminate paperwork hassles
• Improve feedback quality and strengthen management skills
• Save time
• Give employees honest, objective, and open feedback
• Improve your bottom line

A final thought to help you raise employee (and overall company)
performance: HR professionals in organizations of all sizes consistently
report that providing their management with visibility into HR achievements
is essential. Your managers need quantitative and qualitative information
to support your strategic decisions about human capital. And just as
sales or marketing must justify technology investments in light of business
strategy, HR must also learn to do the same. . . Changing.

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