Any successful and developed performance management system must include the following main stages: planning, implementation, evaluation, and improvement.
Institutional performance management begins with the planning stage, which ends with the preparation of the strategic plan—a plan developed for several years that aims to bridge the gap between the current situation and the desired future vision. Determining the plan’s link with financial planning and the rest of the material, human, and technical resources and property, as well as at the planning stage there is a link with the general framework of risk management as it is necessary to determine the type of risk that could impede the implementation of the strategic objectives and how to deal with the risk during its occurrence, which requires the existence of institutional agility in leadership while dealing with it.
At this stage, the policy development guide is adopted, which is considered one of the basic capabilities to ensure the implementation of strategic objectives and government directions. Indicators and targets must also be set because of their importance in planning, monitoring and evaluation to see what has been achieved of the strategic objectives.
The execution phase involves ensuring the plan’s successful implementation of the strategy. This is where operational action plans are developed and implemented, which include strategic initiatives and projects that ultimately lead to achieving the results of the strategic objectives and bridging the performance gap in the strategic objectives that were measured through performance indicators. This phase also involves the application of a general framework for change management, which is designed to bring about a positive shift that moves the organizational unit and organization from one state to another in order to achieve the strategic objectives in an efficient and effective manner, which may deal with changing the organizational structure, policies, programs, procedures or processes in accordance with the application of the ADKAR model criteria for change management.
It is also possible to choose initiatives and projects (especially the strategy) from the reality of the organizational unit’s work plan, to which the concepts of change can be applied. At this stage, performance indicators are measured, the main purpose of which is to know the level of achieving the strategic goals. Therefore, on all indicators, whether strategic or operational, there are “Lead” indicators that measure efforts to achieve the goals or “Lag” indicators that measure the long-term results of the strategic goals, on all of them to contribute to achieving the strategic objectives of the organization. Any indicator that is far from achieving this should be excluded from the measurement.
Measuring performance indicators contributes to the enhancement of institutional learning, motivates employees to achieve higher levels of strategic performance, and enhances accountability and transparency in the institution. At this stage, implementation begins through the general framework of risk management in terms of identifying risk treatment options, the method of treatment, preparing a risk treatment plan, and following up on the extent of implementation of said plan.
Policies that support the realization of the strategy are applied through the preparation and development of an implementation plan that includes various resources, timetables, risk management, communication, monitoring, and evaluation. Monitoring is necessary to assess the effects of the policy so that there is a possibility to adjust the plan and methods of implementation (if required).
A policy follow-up mechanism must also be set up and this can be done by developing and measuring policy effectiveness performance indicators. Finally, at this stage, strategy governance was addressed, which is the framework for action that ensures the implementation of the strategy and the achievement of its objectives in terms of forming work teams, follow-up, review, accountability, reporting, and evaluation.
The third stage is the evaluation stage, and it includes auditing processes, which aims to provide accurate data on how to implement the main stages of the general framework for operations management by defining, designing, documenting, applying, measuring, and following up on the performance, improvement, and development of processes. Institutions can also measure the maturity of processes through several criteria, namely: strategic alignment, culture and leadership, personnel, governance, methodologies and methods, and information technology.
They can also evaluate services through several criteria, including: linking services to strategic directions and goals, focusing on customers, defining performance standards and indicators for services to reach customer happiness, evaluating service delivery channels, measuring and evaluating customer happiness and adding value to them, and evaluating the human resources that provide services. This stage also includes evaluating indicators and targets, as well as evaluating policies and measuring their effectiveness.
The fourth and final stage is the improvement stage, and it includes reviewing and updating the strategic plan. There are two types of review and update of the plan: periodic annual review and comprehensive update of the plan after the end of the plan period of 3 years or 5 years. This stage also includes updating and improving operations, and there are 7 main steps to do so. The processes are: selecting the work team, analyzing the current process, developing indicators of the results of the process, determining the extent of process stability, determining process viability, and determining the feasibility of an improvement.
This stage also includes the improvement of services as the mechanism for improving them depends on various improvement sources, such as suggestions, complaints, satisfaction studies, studies and analyses, the results of measuring service performance indicators, and others. As for the steps and stages of improvement, they are: describing and analyzing improvement opportunities, identifying improvement action, evaluating the priority of applying improvement action, and evaluating the possibility of applying improvement action.
And here comes the role of benchmarking, which is the process of searching for and implementing best practices that increase the rate of improvement by providing the finest models and achieving improvement goals that lead to creating outstanding performance for the organization. It is a systematic and continuous process of comparison, measurement, learning, and continuous improvement by studying different models inside or outside the entity to reach the same level or excellence by applying the developed methods based on the results of the study. Comparisons are also one of the most important drivers of change in organizations, particularly when the outputs of comparison are employed in offering initiatives and innovations that improve previous work methods or lead to unprecedented successful methods which achieve pioneering in various fields.
Finally, analysis and improvement tools must be used to analyze all the problems facing the organization, including those related to the results of performance indicators. And in addressing the cases in which analysis and improvement tools are used, some important tools in analysis were explained, such as: Pareto analysis, mind map, brainstorming, the Five Why tool, and others.
About the author: Dr. Hisham Ahmad Kayali is a Strategic & Performance Management Specialist who has worked with the Dubai municipality. He participated in the full cycle of updating Dubai Municipality’s strategic plan based on balanced scorecard (BSC) perspectives. That included linking the strategic objectives to critical success factors, key performance indicators, and initiatives for the cycles of 2010-2014, 2013-2015, and 2016-2021. He has a Phd in Economic Science at Plekhanov Russian University of Economics.
Change is the only thing sure in the world, they say, and in the past two years, we are forced to adapt to change with an amazing speed.
Whether we discuss big organizations or few-people teams, resilience quickly becomes part of our vocabulary, and we have the same response: fight-or-flight-or-freeze. But how much adrenaline is too much, and how does this affect us as individuals and employees in our organizations? How do organizations manage and perceive the phenomenon called “The Great Resignation” or “The Great Attrition”?
More than 19 million US workers—and counting—have quit their jobs since April 2021, a record pace disrupting businesses everywhere. This has also affected countries in Europe or Australia and seems to be spreading around the world. Many companies struggle to understand and react, but the reaction is usually disproportionate and sometimes even inappropriate.
What Actually Happened?
If the past 24 months have taught us anything, it’s that employees crave compassion and making work more human. People are not robots with tasks or responsibilities, and more than ever, people need to be seen as imperfect and have the space to feel imperfect. Employees are tired, burnt out, and grieving. During the COVID-19 pandemic, everyone has suffered losses. For some, it’s the loss of loved ones; for others, the loss of familiarity — missed family gatherings or coffee with friends, canceled vacations and postponed events, or going to the office every day. The sources of loss, big and small, influence our work and personal lives.
Now, employees want companies to understand this loss and see a renewed and revised sense of purpose in their work. Employees want to feel a sense of shared identity, of community. Yes, they still want pay, benefits, and perks, but more than that, they want to feel valued by their organizations and managers. They want meaningful—though not necessarily in-person—interactions, not just transactions. Most employees have questioned everything during this period, including the meaning of life and work. What is the new meaning that your organization is willing to offer for work? What is the purpose that your company is offering to your employees? Is your company vision only related to profit, or do you have a higher purpose?
The pandemic brings new opportunities and urgency, and the idea of being agile and always ready to change is very good for business. However, people need time to adjust and make peace with this sense of loss. Indeed, the prolonged levels of uncertainty will only add to the grief and anxiety that employees experience. None of us knows exactly what will and won’t be coming back in a post-pandemic workplace. Therefore, we don’t know yet what is gone for now and what is gone forever. This influences performance or productivity.
What Can We Do?
If companies make a concerted effort to understand why employees are leaving and take meaningful action to gain them back, they can turn things into their favor. By seizing this unique moment of uncertainty and offering meaningful purpose and identity, your company could gain an edge in the race to attract, develop, and retain the talent you need to create a thriving post-pandemic organization.
If you’re a CEO or a member of a top team, your best move now is to hit pause and take the time to think through your next moves. But don’t think through your next moves in a vacuum; include your employees in the process. Start thinking about implementing a performance management system in your organization and do it with the help of your people. If you want to keep people by your side, include them in your plans, include them in setting the performance standards, and show them that their insight is valuable.
As you implement the performance management system at the employee level, ask the following questions:
- Do we have a toxic organizational culture? It’s very important to understand if in your organizational culture, you may have missed some points with toxic leaders. This could put people down before even having the chance to perform.
- Do we have the right people in the right places (especially managers)? Many employers face the problem of having the right people but not necessarily in the right places. When it comes to managers, this problem can be particularly damaging, especially in hybrid environments, where new leadership skills are required. Skills such as coaching and training capability are very important to develop for managers since in the new reality of work, people need coaching more than ever.
- How was our organizational culture before the pandemic? If you think that going back to the office means returning to the same culture, you may expect your people to leave very quickly. You should remember that although the needs of your employees have changed, your culture may not have kept up, and any prior organizational weaknesses are now magnified. Employees will have little tolerance for a return to a status quo they didn’t like before.
- Is our organizational culture based on the idea of transaction? If your only response to attrition is to raise compensation, you’re strongly telling your people that your relationship with them is transactional and that their only reason to stay with you is a paycheck. Your talent in the organization will always have a better cash offer somewhere else. Our suggestion is to solve the problems of the whole person (not just their bank accounts) and the whole organization.
- Are our benefits aligned with employee priorities? If before the pandemic you offered free parking or Christmas parties as special benefits, you might want to consider adapting and changing these benefits also. In a recent survey among people who left their jobs, 45 percent cited the need to take care of the family as influential in their decision. A similar proportion of people who are thinking of quitting cited the demands of family care. Expanding childcare, nursing services, or other home- and family-focused benefits could help keep such employees from leaving and show that you value them.
- Employees want career paths and development opportunities. Can you provide it? Employees are looking for jobs with better, stronger career trajectories. They desire both recognition and development. Smart companies find ways to reward people by promoting them into new roles and into additional levels within their existing ones. This is one way companies can quickly reward and recognize people for good work.
- How are we building a sense of community? Remote work is no panacea, but neither is a full on-site return. In-person connectivity continues to have massive benefits for your organization. But it will require considerable management attention to be right as health and safety concerns continue to evolve, particularly because employees’ needs and expectations have changed. For example, employees with unvaccinated young children may feel unsafe in large in-person gatherings.
One organization took an inclusive approach by sending out themed staycation packages: a movie night with popcorn and a gift card; a game night with family-oriented games, chips, and salsa; and a virtual spa day complete with face masks, tea, and chocolate. The company created a Slack channel for posting photos and stories, encouraging employees to share these experiences. Another organization encouraged connectivity among employees by offering coffee gift cards to those who signed up to participate in one-on-one coffee chats with employees they didn’t know—a perk that improved connectivity and helped people expand their networks.
Employee engagement should focus now more than ever on employee experience. If you want to learn more about employee engagement, employee experience, how to implement a performance management system at the employee level, and how to align the company’s values, strategy, and objectives with employees behaviors, follow our Certified Employee Performance Management System Professional course.
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When implementing a Performance Management System (PMS) based on Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), the organization needs to create a favorable context to plan, organize, coordinate, communicate, and control performance. Such endeavor implies multiple initiatives, resources, and most of all, employee engagement. However, challenges are inevitable. These challenges often arise from the mechanisms and relations by which the KPI Measurement Framework and KPI-related processes are controlled and directed.
As such, unclear definitions and overlap of roles and responsibilities and lack of ownership, commitment, or clarity in terms of target achievement accountability are some of the most common challenges that may endanger the achievement of strategic business objectives and goals. The root cause of these dysfunctions is that KPI governance structure has never been clearly defined or described.
KPI governance structure
There are multiple parties involved in governing and managing KPI-related processes, and all play a specific role in promoting, supporting, designing, implementing, and maintaining the KPI measurement framework. A typical KPI governance structure includes the following components:
- Performance Manager – Responsible for supervising the entire process
- PMO specialists – Support the persons involved in the process, analyze data and check it for accuracy
- KPI owner – Responsible for KPI target achievement
- Data custodian – Responsible for KPI results collection/ data collection
KPI owners and data custodians have two of the most operational KPI governance roles within the organization. While the data custodians are responsible for ensuring that high-quality KPI data is gathered and communicated to all interested stakeholders, the KPI owners are mainly responsible for the KPIs under their management, making sure that they are viable and measurable.
KPI owners’ role and responsibilities
Within a standard Data Governance Framework, a data owner is in charge of ensuring that processes are followed to guarantee the collection, security, and quality of data. Frequently in a senior or high-level leadership position, a data owner has a role in planning the data, supervising access to it, ensuring data security, and defining a repository to contextualize the data.
Similarly, a KPI owner is responsible for overseeing the process, function, or initiative that the KPI is monitoring. That person has access to the data, knowledge of how that domain functions, and, most of all, is empowered to make decisions on improving operations.
In a nutshell, the KPI owner is responsible for reaching KPI targets through the following actions:
- Monitoring (looking at) the measure over time
- Interpreting its trends and patterns and seeking causes for them
- Communicating this information to people affected by that performance area
- Initiating action to improve performance in that area
- Following up to be sure that actions have the desired effect on performance
Data custodians’ role and responsibilities
Within a KPI governance framework, data custodians are involved in the design of performance data collection, receipt and storage, process, analysis, reporting, publication, dissemination, and archival or deletion of data. The daily processing and management of performance data are therefore under the control of appointed data custodians. The person assigned with such a role must demonstrate high levels of data literacy as well as skills in data management software systems and tools.
Other required competencies for a data custodian are as follows:
- The ability to intuitively identify and recognize any variance from the data quality dimensions
- Can contribute to better ways of collecting data
- Focused on the improvement and automation of the process
- Can competently apply the behaviors and skills of managing change
- Uses change as an opportunity to advance business objectives
- Works to minimize complexities, contradictions, and paradoxes or reduce their impact
- Unifies leadership support for direction and smoothens the process of change
We may say that the data custodians are the guarantors of a sound performance data gathering process. Because of that, the profile of such an individual should also cover an analytical mind, experience in measuring and reporting metrics/ KPIs, information technology skills (basic Microsoft Excel or more advanced data analysis tools, depending on the data architecture`s level of automation), and a strong sense of integrity and ethics.
While some companies may hire specialized professionals, such as data analysts, other organizations may assign the data custodian roles to the existing employees.
Building a strong KPI governance team is a key part of the KPI-related processes and functionalities and of successfully overcoming the inherent challenges of implementing a PMS. Once the right people are on board, they need to be guided towards making the right decisions and focusing on the correct issues, ultimately making sure that information is being governed for a purpose that aligns with business objectives.
Discover the world of KPIs, from best practices to developing scorecards and dashboards, by signing up for The KPI Institute’s KPI Professional and Practitioner training courses.
When formalizing and implementing a performance management system (PMS) based on key performance indicators (KPIs), there are multiple activities to be considered and many stakeholders to be engaged in the process. Therefore, you’ll need a project plan to make performance management an ongoing process within your organization.
What matters most is not to have an extra process in place, but to do it right by connecting strategy formulation with strategy implementation and KPI across the organizational levels. The way you will design and implement the PMS based on KPIs will play a huge role in the way it will be perceived by the employees. This is exactly why our approach is based on a combination of analysis and research, workshops and feedback activities.
Zooming out, the proposed project plan includes 14 stages:
- 5 Stages: System Design
- 5 Stages: System Activation
- 4 Stages: Project Management
Zooming in, all 14 stages include major sub activities that indicate how granular this puzzle can be. A real image of efforts and resources engaged.
What are the key elements to ensure that a KPI implementation project plan will be a success story?
The differentiator in creating successful conditions is represented by the employees’ trust in the project. Why? Because change brings fear, and fear must be managed in connection to the implementation of KPIs.
- Fear of becoming replaceable or unnecessary
- Fear of unrealistic (too high) targets
- Fear of extra work
As what I wrote in a previous article, if fears exist, then managers should consider looking for a course, training, or coaching session on how to guide their employees in managing their fears. Another step is to have an organizational message with a system that reinforces the organizational culture and the real intentions and effects of such a project, reassuring everyone that they will not be swept away by it.
Could this project be considered for departmental level only?
The KPI implementation project plan can be applied to the departmental level only. It has advantages and disadvantages Since this KPIs system is not a stand alone, the departmental level will ultimately get connected to the strategic (superior) and individual level (lower).
One advantage of this approach is the system will be founded on a strong understanding of operations and specific processes and developed at departmental (mid) level. Another advantage is increased involvement of employees in developing the system. This can generate a high sense of commitment and engagement based on their contribution.
Meanwhile, the disadvantage of this approach is that starting with the lowest level may not ensure a strategic orientation, and it may be predominantly narrow instead, given the limited understanding of the overall organization’s mid- and long-term commitments.
If you would like to learn more about KPI measurement and KPI implementation, sign up for The KPI Institute’s Certified Professional and Practitioner training course.
There is no doubt that all companies aim to increase their overall performance and boost their revenues, no matter if they sell dairy products, second-hand furniture, or petroleum products.