Thursday, October 30, 2014

Performance... Revolution!

Performance Management, when done right, will create a revolution on your estate. And, that's why it so often doesn't get done.  

Performance management is actually a fairly straightforward process: establishing standards and then holding all members of your team accountable to them. Yet whether that little boat gets all the way to the shore, or stays adrift, will largely depend upon how well it is was both constructed and captained in the first place.

Some estate owners will dismiss the advantages of a performance management system, deferring instead to maintaining long-established familiar relationships with staff who've established their own independent behaviors and levels of performance; personal relationships they feel would be jeopardized if these staff were to be now be held accountable to team-standardized expectations. This may be accomplished both passively and actively in a variety of ways; by disinterest in broaching the topic, by disallowing their family offices and estate managers the tools,
How does this become acceptable?
time, and focus to enact a system, or even, and in many cases, by outright expressed banishment of such systems. 

And, these estate owners are often correct with their concerns, as in many instances, very personal relationships - or the performance management process for the team, itself - would simply not survive a transition from independent to team standards. As the expression is known, a chain is as strong as its weakest link (and a boat as seaworthy as its largest leak?) - and both pros and cons to any organizational change are always weighed, despite good intentions or what's passionately believed to be a good idea.

Other estate owners, however, will choose to place at a high premium the predictable and high level of service they receive at home, the expected behaviors while their staff interacts with each other and works toward agreed-upon standards, and how staff are selected in the first place to build a fully functioning and high performance crew, expecting their estates to run "like a five star
When systems are loaded with integrity,
 failure no longer becomes a concern.
hotel" - the well-known expression we've all heard repeatedly, thus providing the nourishment needed for high standards performance to flourish, much like you'll find in, well, for instance...
a real five-star hotel

These particular estate owners will actively support, and actively expect, their family office
and estate managers to utilize a workable, honest performance management system which is loaded with integrity; will allow their managers the time, energy and tools needed; and will review periodically with their managers if the system is actually  working... even doing so right on center stage during an occasional visit to a staff meeting, demonstrating their own support and expectation for all staff members to be fully on-board the same boat. Support and standards always begin at the helm, thus no matter how well-developed your system is, without the appropriate support for a well-crafted infrastructure it will all be for naught - and stay washed up on the shore... or the staff break room, as the case may be!

Whether or not you'll be moving forward with a process for establishing standards and accountability from all staff members on your estate is, ultimately, a choice left to the culture which as been established and now supported by the Principals. You may, however, at the very least, find it interesting how the entire process plays out. Regulars to the Citizen have often noticed on our Good Citizen Reading List, The Essential Performance Review Handbook, which is a great reference for the review portion of the larger performance management process. Recently, though, I discovered perhaps the best summary of this overall process I've ever seen - which even comes with its very own PowerPoint Presentation sample demonstration. If you're like me, you appreciate PowerPoints because they add such a powerful visual
Candor: as important as the process itself.
element to any presentation or discussion, which can be paused and restarted (or simply turned off, as desired) and they're perfect for breaking into the subject with staff members, or even the principals themselves... assuming their initial interest in the topic. 

From the site is the following summary, and I've added bold and italicized text to those points I believe are most important for Household/Estate Managers to grasp and promote:

Performance management... encompasses activities such as joint goal setting, continuous progress review and frequent communication, feedback and coaching for improved performance, implementation of employee development programmes and rewarding achievements. The process of performance management starts with the joining of a new incumbent in a system and ends when an employee quits the organization. 

Performance management can be regarded as a systematic process by which the overall performance of an organization can be improved by improving the performance of individuals within a team framework. It is a means for promoting superior performance by communicating expectations, defining roles within a required competence framework and establishing achievable benchmarks.

Tools such as job design, leadership development, training and reward system received an equal impetus along with the traditional performance appraisal process in the new comprehensive and a much wider framework

Performance management is an ongoing communication process which is carried between the supervisors and the employees throughout the year. The process is very much cyclical and continuous in nature

A performance management system includes the following actions.
  • Developing clear job descriptions and employee performance plans which includes the key result areas (KRA') and performance indicators.
  • Selection of right set of people by implementing an appropriate selection process.
  • Negotiating requirements and performance standards for measuring the outcome and overall productivity against the predefined benchmarks.
  • Providing continuous coaching and feedback during the period of delivery of performance.
  • Identifying the training and development needs by measuring the outcomes achieved against the set standards and implementing effective development programs for improvement.
  • Holding quarterly [at the minimumperformance development discussions and evaluating employee performance on the basis of performance plans.
  • Designing effective compensation and reward systems for recognizing those employees who excel in their jobs by achieving the set standards in accordance with the performance plans or rather exceed the performance benchmarks.
  • Providing promotional/career development support and guidance to the employees.
  • Performing exit interviews [and stay interviews] for understanding the cause of employee discontentment and thereafter exit from an organization.
A performance management process sets the platform for rewarding excellence by aligning individual employee accomplishments with the organization’s mission and objectives and making the employee and the organization understand the importance of a specific job in realizing outcomes

By establishing clear performance expectations which includes results, actions and behaviors, it helps the employees in understanding what exactly is expected out of their jobs and setting of standards help in eliminating those jobs which are of no use any longer. Through regular feedback and coaching, it provides an advantage of diagnosing the problems at an early stage and taking corrective actions.

To conclude, performance management can be regarded as a proactive system of managing employee performance for driving the individuals and the organizations towards desired performance and results. It’s about striking a harmonious alignment between individual and organizational objectives for accomplishment of excellence in performance.

Those uniforms were actually pretty darn nice.
Like all summaries, though, this brief introduction to how to begin your revolution is simply a supplement to the larger body of material... and not a substitute for truly believing in and continuous application of the material, itself. 

Make no mistake, hard work is ahead, yet your journey has been blazed... and, with the appropriate support from your employer, you will succeed!