A few years back, I encountered two organizations with virtually the same approach to Performance Management. The metrics they used were almost identical, both had a commitment to benchmarking, both were “bought in” at the executive level, and both were serious about holding people accountable. All appeared to be the same except for their ACTUAL performance track record.
On a subsequent visit however, I noticed a subtle little difference that seemed to make ALL THE DIFFERENCE. The difference was in the way they told the story to their organization- simple communication tactics that bridged the gap between the “wanna be’s” and real world performance leaders.
Note that I made a point to say SIMPLE communications. I’m not talking real hi-tech here (although today’s electronic communication does simplify things). No- we’re simply talking about management’s commitment to get the word out- plain and simple. What are our targets? How are we doing? What are the indicators telling us? And what are we doing to improve?
What was truly amazing is that none of this showed up in the data we saw or in the interviews we performed over the phone. It was something you had to see. Something in the culture. When we finally made a visit to both companies, the differences became striking.
Within the high performance company, charts were everywhere. Big, colorful, and easy to understand charts. When performance suffered, you saw it. When performance accelerated, you saw it, and celebrated it. It was hard not to know where you stood. This was their guidance system- their dashboard or cockpit, from which they navigated.
I believe strongly that in Performance Management, communications is everything. Simple graphical representations of results can have so much more impact than you’re run of the mill budget or performance report. Good communication filters out the BS and tells the organization the bottom line message. I often wonder what a disadvantage a pilot would be at if all he had to rely on were dull printouts of data, rather than the cockpit indicators, heads-up displays, and critical alarms that are built into most aircraft today.
So as you think about your role in performance management, think communications. Keep it simple. Keep it clear. And keep it coming!
Author: Bob Champagne is Managing Partner of onVector Consulting Group, a privately held international management consulting organization specializing in the design and deployment of Performance Management tools, systems, and solutions. Bob has over 25 years of Performance Management experience and has consulted with hundreds of companies across numerous industries and geographies. Bob can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org