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Practitioner Interview: Khalid G. Alharbi on his career and the future of the profession

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Khalid G. Alharbi boasts over 20 years of experience in partnering with business unit executives to develop strategic plans, direction, market analysis, partnership, growth guide, and operation excellency. He leads large and complex projects to achieve key business objectives and promote digital transformation. He is pursuing a career in engineering, project management, sales and strategy planning. In this interview with Performance Magazine, he shares the highlights and insights of his career, providing valuable glimpses into his journey and accomplishments.

Would you tell us more about your educational and professional background? How did your previous experiences lead you to your current position?

I started as a telecom operation engineer working in the field and gradually moved to telecom planning. This gives me a full insight into the value chain of my profession. Then, I moved to the project management field as a Certified Project Management Professional (PMP) working in 2030 Vision programs. 

After that, I went into the business development and sales field, looking for more opportunities based on my company’s strategic direction utilizing the skills in planning and project management I acquired from my previous work. Finally, I worked directly in formulating, implementing and measuring the performance of different strategies since 2018. 

What are your main responsibilities and goals in your current role?

My major responsibilities as the Strategy and Policy – Acting General Manager are overseeing the sector’s strategy formulation, implementation and monitoring, directing research and statistical studies, including the standard development and licensing process while ensuring compliance with overall cultural strategies, policies, and standards.

Please take us through your daily job routine. Could you describe in detail your activities and work hours? You may specify certain areas of your job, such as your work arrangement (remote, on-site or hybrid) and the stakeholders you frequently contact or meet with.

My daily activities and work hours are spent monitoring the team tasks and responsibilities toward the strategic direction while conducting the coaching sessions. On top of that, I review indicators and matrices achieved looking for improvement. 

Do you think that strategy and performance management in the public sector is different from that in the private sector? How?

Yes, by changing the targeted customer, including beneficiary and strategic direction. For example, the strategic direction in the public sector often focuses on the final beneficiary (citizens, residents and other government sectors) and the services provided to them. Moreover, the public sector focuses on measuring beneficiary satisfaction, improving service quality, sustaining provision, and reducing the sector’s burden in service delivery.

As for the private sector, the focus is on return on investment, as well as ensuring cash flows and the effectiveness of operational processes to reduce expenses.

What are the main achievements you are proud of thus far during your time working in strategy and performance management in the public sector?

So far, the main achievement I am proud of is my participation in formulating and implementing two strategies in the public sector.

What are the main challenges that you face working in strategy and performance management in the public sector? When faced with such challenges, what do you do?

One of the main challenges that I face working in strategy and performance management in the public sector is the shortage of manpower which leads to distraction. 

For the future of your career, do you intend to keep on working in the public sector, switch to the private sector, or does the sector not really matter to you? Why?

Recently, the public sector has closely aligned with the private sector in terms of social and economic impact. This has led to a strategic shift, prompting me to consider either public or private.

If someone is looking to work in strategy and performance management in the public sector one day, what skills, knowledge and experience would you advise them to acquire?

From my point of view, to excel in strategic work and stand out, one must master employee management, ensuring subordinates adhere to policies and procedures while also possessing deep strategic thinking, maximizing gains, building strong relationships, and gaining trust to effectively implement required tasks.

In addition to analytical skills, data linking, project management, and financial planning, one should also possess the ability to set standards, develop policies, and master persuasive storytelling.

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Khalid G. Alharbi will delve deeper into his insights on performance management in the public sector in the upcoming government edition of Performance Magazine. For updates on the publication release, please follow The KPI Institute’s LinkedIn page.

Game-changers: how sustainability has progressed in the FIFA World Cup™

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As we move towards a more socially and environmentally conscious world, various sectors are recognizing the significance of integrating sustainability strategies into their operations. In this interview, Jose Pablo Retana, the director of sustainability at FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™, shares how the sports community perceives sustainability and sets organizational goals to ensure its progress.

Why sustainability is an important component of an organization’s strategy

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Across the globe, many governments and corporations are seeking cleaner and greener alternatives. It is becoming clear that sustainability should be an integral part of any organization’s strategic plan.  Samirkumar Pathak, head of sustainability and ESG for Almarai, explains why this is the case and how this can be achieved.

Incorporating sustainability into every organizational decision-making process

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Sustainability involves balancing economic, environmental, and social factors to ensure that the organization’s actions do not harm the planet, people, or future generations. Angela Hultberg, Kearney’s Global Sustainability Director, explains why sustainability must not be considered an afterthought and should be embedded in all organizational decisions.

Practitioner interview: Dr. Loai Naser discusses key trends in performance management

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The monitoring, evaluation, accountability, and learning (MEAL) concept should be incorporated into the future corporate performance management system, according to Dr. Loai Fathi Naser, an Assistant Professor in Management at Israa University. He adds that MEAL must be implemented and promoted throughout the formal structure and culture of an organization. In this article, Dr. Naser further discussed how organizations can prepare for managing performance in the future and how to use KPIs as navigational instruments.

Trends

What were the key trends in Organizational Performance in 2021 from your point of view?

2021 is now over. Organizations have faced many challenges throughout the year that affected its operations. The key trends in organizational performance management that emerged in 2020 and seem to continue in 2022 are digital transformation, artificial intelligence capabilities, polishing skills of remote working, and emphasis on wellness and mental health.

Which of the existing trends, topics, or aspects within Performance Management have lost their relevance and/or importance, from your point of view?

I think that polishing skills for remote work lost its importance due to the gradual shift to the normal situation after the COVID-19 pandemic has ceased.

What does the corporate performance management system of the future look like?

According to the Top 3 Enterprise Performance Management Methods by profit.co., contemporary management processes are moving towards customization, flexibility, and agility. These are some of the key changes considered essential for any progressive performance management system. To adhere to agility and flexibility, the performance system should apply and promote the MEAL concept within the organization’s formal structure and culture. Organizations should focus on team performance vs. individual performance, clearly define KPIs and criteria for compensation, and integrate digital tools and technology deployment in the performance appraisal process.

What will be the major challenges in managing performance in the future and how should organizations prepare for them?

One of the major challenges in managing performance in the future is the lack of chances for managers to check in on an employee’s performance and keep them aligned because of neglecting consistent communication and the opportunity of having informal communication between the manager and employee. Designing key performance indicators (KPIs) for performance management would help organizations attract and retain a good caliber of staff through financial and non-financial means. Staff should have professional development plans that are regularly reviewed and updated.

How is technology impacting the way organizations conduct strategic planning and manage performance? Any specific technology tools you would like to mention?

Organizations should integrate digital performance tools into their team’s workflow to see positive results from the process. Making performance feedback a natural part of day-to-day work makes coaching employees and managers alike easier. One software that is available in the market is Synergita. It measures and monitors employee performance in real-time. Synergita also tracks the progress of employees. It helps organizations strengthen their HR tech stack to build high-performing teams.

How is sustainability impacting the way organizations conduct strategic planning and manage performance? Any specific sustainability aspects you would like to mention?

The practice of corporate sustainability leads to sustainability of performance and increases the efficiency of strategies, leading to greater performance. Among sustainability dimensions, it is important to note that the social sustainability aspect has the highest impact, followed by the economic and environmental aspects.

Practice

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused disruptions in our day-to-day lives, social relations, economies, and business dynamics. Given the impact of the crisis, what do you think are the specific changes in the way strategic planning and performance management is being conducted post-COVID?

Performance management under COVID-19 needs planning for uncertainty and developing a range of scenarios. It needs a clear view of a starting position in the wake of the pandemic. A social feedback system provides the employee with a larger amount of feedback (often 50 or more instances over the course of a year) from peers and others. This reduces the emphasis on receiving feedback from the employee’s manager alone. Recalibrating KPIs is essential to ensuring that remote work actually works.

What should be improved in the use of strategy and performance management tools to make an organization even more resilient to future crises?

Well-designed KPIs work as vital navigational instruments. They give a picture of the current level of the organization’s performance and find out whether the business has achieved its goals and objectives. KPIs work as standards for future performance during crises.

While navigating through these challenging times, what would you consider a best practice in Performance Management?

Honest performance appraisals for employees need leadership skill rating. The result of an employee’s good performance could be increased production, customer growth, and an enjoyable work environment. However, poor employee performance may result in just the opposite. One of the tools used to gauge employee performance throughout the year is a performance appraisal.

How does benchmarking support the improvement of performance management and target-setting systems?

Organizations engage in benchmarking to achieve the industry’s best practices and to keep abreast with competitors. Benchmarking serves as a performance management strategy by setting performance standards. It identifies performance gaps by comparing actual with target performance.

Background

Dr. Loai Fathi Naser has over 17 years of experience in program management and organizational development. As an assistant professor, he has more than 12 years of experience in academic teaching and training in Business and Management courses such as Corporate Governance, Entrepreneurship, Microfinance, Institutional Development, Strategic Planning, Project Management, Human Resource Management, Business Communication, and Total Quality Management. 

As an organizational development consultant and trainer, he leads teams in organizing program evaluation, organizational capacity assessment, financial transparency and compliance, and conducting capacity-building training and coaching.

Editor’s Note: This interview originally appeared in the 22nd edition of the Performance Magazine – Printed Edition.

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