“People know you for what you have done, not for what you plan to do.”
CEO is accountable for everything that happens in the organization and bears responsibility of delivering the outcomes. Like anyone else, the top leaders make their own plans, execute them and deliver results which are often at a variance from what was planned. They take ownership of the plan, the execution and the variance from the plan. Do we see this happen always in a seamless manner?
Mudslinging is common, isn’t it?
People point fingers at something or someone else when the results fall short of the plan. When they do that, four of their fingers point towards them.
This is pretty much common to see that sales blames production and vice versa, branch offices and personnel in the field blame the officers in the corporate office and vice versa. People talk about lack of resources, tough market situation, predatory practices of competition, government apathy and many others. The list is long!
People offer excuses to show themselves in a different light away from reality or want to escape from the jaws of scrutiny or do not want to face tough situations.
Define Outcomes and Measures
Sometimes, people are not sure what results are expected of them though they are normally clear about the tasks to perform. One could perform the tasks well but do not yield desired results. Focus on tasks is very different from carrying out tasks with eyes set on the goals.
When we are clear about the goals in our head and heart is set on the mission, the linkage of the tasks with the goals is very evident. We take steps to clear our minds when there are questions or uncertainties. Almost instinctively, we know how the outcomes are measured in an ongoing basis and what to do when our day to day performance does not produce the desired results.
Goals and business results could be clear at the level of the board, but down the line, each individual might not be clear what is expected of them. If we walk into the shop floor, the warehouse or the salesperson in the field and ask how they are contributing to the organization’s priorities, it is most likely that employees would be unclear. Often we would see, some of them do not even know clearly about their targets, let alone knowing about the priorities of the organization and relating to them!
Strong performance management system is required to espouse a set of priorities for the organization, define goals and performance indicators for each person. This calls for intense action by the top leaders, HR team and the supervisors at each level in the organization. Systems are to be set up right!
Many organizations run performance appraisal regularly at a predetermined frequency such as monthly, quarterly or annually. In some cases, they are initiated by HR and in some others, it is initiated by the line managers. Neither of the two systems work meaningfully unless the employee is aligned with the thinking of the organization. More often than not, employees take up performance appraisal as a step to achieve a good salary review and do not care enough about reflecting upon the performance results. They do not care much to seek feedback from their reporting manager and other stakeholders about the way they go about doing their job.
Organizational machinery works smoothly only when the moving parts have the least amount of friction and are properly aligned with one another. Hence, it is essential that the top leaders decide on the strategic elements clearly, define the performance indicators and their measurement systems. Managers right from the front level till the highest level have to be absolutely clear about the rationale and are able to articulate them back to their teams. Every day, they need to measure performance along these indicators, converse with their teams using these measures and reward team members based on their achievement along these indicators.
Easier said than done! It is possible to have a completely aligned organization only when goals are defined, measurement systems are clear and they are followed each day.