Practitioner Interview: Hosni MahjoubIn 2017, the Performance Magazine editorial team interviewed Hosni Mahjoub, Group Head of Strategy and Performance at Batelco Group, Bahrain. His thoughts and views on Performance Management are detailed below.
I think that the best way to improve performance management integration at different levels is to align the organization, the department and the individual by cascading SMART performance indicators from top to bottom and across all activities.
- Which were the 2016 key trends in Performance Management, from your point of view?
I think the emphasis on data analytics is the most important trend which allows organizations to predict employee performance and behavior. The second major trend is related to knowledge sharing and virtual collaboration. Today, many systems allow employees to be in different countries and work together with maximum cost-effectiveness and agility.
- What are your thoughts on the integration of Performance Management at organizational, departmental and employee level?
I think big organizations have appropriate Performance Management departments for their size, however, the integration level in such a structure remains different from one company to the other, depending especially on the culture, the governance model that was adopted by the company and the HR practices of that organization.
In many organizations, departmental and employee performance are often perceived as being part of the bigger picture. They will succeed or fail depending on the others.
Consequently, I think that the best way to improve performance management integration at different levels is to align the organization, the department and the individual by cascading SMART (Specific- Measurable- Agreed upon- Realistic- Time-related) performance indicators from top to bottom and across all activities.
Those indicators should be created from the company’s strategy and strategic initiatives. Meanwhile, Performance Management should play the role of an organizational navigational instrument, showing how we are progressing in real time and if your business is on the right track or not.
- Which will be the major changes in managing performance, in the future?
Traditional Performance Management often ranks employees in relation to other colleagues, but this can lead to unhealthy comparisons and competitions, resulting in disengagement and the undermining of collaborative efforts and teamwork.
As a result, I think that future performance management will emphasize more and more the importance of interactions between colleagues and their overall work environment ecosystem (peers, bosses, maybe even clients) and their input in relation to it. I am convinced that the more individuals improve the way they interact, the better the overall performance of the business will be.
- What aspects of Performance Management should be explored more through research?
Well, my perception is that research should further explore how companies manage their financial and strategic performance, by better controlling the high risks of the external environment. Today, many companies are transforming their businesses due to the pressure of competition, the financial crisis, political issues, digital disruption and so on.
Thus, I really would like to encourage researchers to create performance management systems and approaches that take into consideration key external risk factors, which are shaking up many industries. Also, research needs to be done on how to make employees more motivated in their work environment and how to enhance their productivity.
Moreover, the link between strategy and execution remains one of the most important aspects where many organizations fail, so many employees have no idea how their everyday work contributes to the execution of the company’s strategy and how it enhances its overall performance. Worse, individuals don’t see how their goals connect to their personal success.
Another key point that needs to be addressed is related to the level of motivation and engagement of some managers to improve the company’s performance, particularly those who have been in the same role for an extended period and who feel uninspired about their future. I think that a sense of growth and progress is essential for high engagement and high performance.
- Which organizations would you recommend to be looked at, due to their particular approach to managing performance, and their subsequent results?
I worked for a tier 1 multinational automotive provider that produces cable systems for automotive manufacturers such as VW, Peugeot and Scania. There, all processes and goals are managed by specific KPIs and the culture of performance excellence is the organization’s key principle.
The automotive manufacturers allow their Tier 1 providers to set lean work processes and to efficiently manage performance management. Any under-performance can impact the ranking of the supplier and can decrease his chance to obtain new business deals. I would like to refer you to the organizations inside the automotive industry.
- Which are the main challenges of Performance Management in practice, today?
There are a number of challenges that can prove to be an obstacle to effective performance management. Those challenges are mostly related to strategy, the organization itself and performance measurements:
A. Lacking alignment: the link between Strategy development, Budgeting and Operational planning is developed by different groups of people with different frameworks. The performance management system lacks alignment between individual performance, departmental performance and organizational delivery and so all systems default back to financial measurements.
B. Writing a poorly structured strategy
C. Failing to communicate the strategy to stakeholders and staff
D. Failing to achieve buy-in of the strategy
E. Not measuring progress
F. Not adapting to changing circumstances
G. Not giving the team the necessary authority or tools to accomplish their jobs
H. Lacking measurements: poor measurements are developed at different levels of the organization, in many cases targets are set but no relevant measurement method/tool is put in place.
I. Managing the performance system: performance management is managed daily and reported at certain times through reviews and appraisals.
- What should be improved in the use of Performance Management tools and processes?
In many cases, performance management systems are not well aligned with an organization’s processes. Therefore, the more complicated the process is, the more difficult it is to measure its KPIs, thus making the performance management system more and more isolated.
The best way to ensure an efficient performance management system is to simplify processes and build a lean organization that might facilitate people’s roles and missions.
- What would you consider as a best practice in Performance Management?
There are a lot of best practices in performance management. One important practice is to reinforce the commitment and capabilities of managers in order to have regular and qualitative discussions with their teams.
I believe that setting up regular meetings to measure performance is better than having only one meeting per year. Those meetings should be shorter and more focused.
I also think that senior leaders play an important role in ensuring that performance management aligns the corporate strategy and objectives to individuals, so that employees know how their work fits with the organization’s overall strategy.
- Which aspects of Performance Management should be emphasized during educational programs?
I think that one of the Performance Management topics which should be emphasized during educational programs is how to improve knowledge and develop leadership in order to better manage performance management in the amazing changing job environment. I strongly believe that there is a real gap between the educational program and reality.
That is why the educational program needs to be revisited more frequently and the best way to do so is to focus on internship programs. This is the best way to understand the different cultures of all organizations, their work environment challenges, the key performance indicators used within each department and functions, as well as how their performance management processes work.
- What are the limits that prevent practitioners from achieving higher levels of proficiency in Performance Management?
Some important reasons hinder practitioners from achieving higher levels of proficiency in performance management. A couple of those reasons are the lack of understanding in regards to the behaviors of key employees or how certain core functions operate.
Likewise, some organizations don’t understand what Performance Management means; for them, Performance Management is just a set of KPIs. I strongly encourage practitioners to communicate more with their organizations, beyond topics related to KPIs.
Fortunately, Performance Management is a vast topic, where we can bring a lot of valuable ideas to the fore, such as: Business Process redesign, trend analysis and value added recommendations, people or market behavior predictions, performance benchmarking, knowledge management via virtual collaboration and e-learning, cost optimization analysis, corporate investment and risk management and so on.
Another reason why practitioners encounter certain limits is due to the fact that performance measurement still represents a complex task due to the organizational changes many companies encounter, in numerous industries.
- What is your opinion on the emerging trend of measuring performance outside working hours?
I don’t believe there is any special emerging trend related to measuring personal performance. Thinking outside the box, learning from each experience and performing amazing things is the best way to build outstanding personal performance.
- What personal performance measurement tools do you use?
I don’t use a specific tool for measuring personal performance, however every night I ask myself if I have achieved what I planned for that day, what things I have learned and what things can be improved. This is the best way for me to be more productive the following day.
Specialization Specific Question
- Practitioner Point of View: Which were the recent achievements in generating value from performance management in your organization?
Performance management is a continuous work process, aimed at generating strategic value (i.e. it is about broader issues and longer-term business goals).
As a telecom group, we are operating within a challenging and highly competitive market, that’s why we are working to establish a world-class Performance Management System that can support our organization.
For example, we are working to provide an integrated framework, connecting several aspects of the telecom business with processes like people management, measuring and benchmarking performance, aligning group strategy and operational strategies, and offering guidance to improve operational performance. We are also clarifying accountability related to performance expectations and we are creating synergies to optimize costs and improve financial results.
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