AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Performance Managemnt, Rewards and Recognition

    Performance management processes and procedures have evolved
    at a blistering pace, perhaps faster than any other part of the Human Resources

    PM has transitioned from an industrial-age framework focused on maintaining consistent production schedules and quality to a flexible – and interconnected – tracking, coaching and talent development tool.

    Technology capabilities and limitations often drove process design in early PMS implementations.

    Organizations now require technology solutions that reflect their specific performance management framework and focus on the competencies that enable their unique strategy.

    Aligning performance management with organizational strategy

    To design an effective performance managemtn system, organizations need to understand how each job – and the career ladders or development paths for those jobs – feed into the organization’s strategic goals.

    That understanding provides the framework for how and how often performance assessment and guidance is conducted.

    It provides a way to assess performance not just in terms of “what have you done for me so far?” but also, “Where can we best use your talents and optimize your skills going forward?”

    Why is that so important?

    Effective and engaged employees share a couple of common characteristics, regardless of industry, job function, or seniority.

    They understand how their daily efforts make a difference in
    whether and how their organization achieves its strategic goals.

    Without that understanding, how can they to rate their own
    efforts and see where they should develop strengths and overcome limitations?

    An effective performance management solution provides the tools to answer that deceptively straightforward question for individual contributors, teams and organizations.

    And, like individual performance goals, a PM system design should flow from a clearly-defined strategy. Otherwise, those systems can limit, instead of advancing, that strategy.

    Asking the right questions

    Often, discussions about the need for performance management approach the topic at a tactical level.

    Indeed, many vendors’ websites suggest that customers look at tactical drivers when they are researching performance management tools.

    They suggest organizations ask themselves,” Why are we looking at investing in a new PMS?”

    • Compensation decision making?
    • Administrative support?
    • Developmental planning and guidance?
    • General performance measurement and reporting?

    For nearly every organization, the answer is, “Yes, all of that.”

    The good news is that there’s a growing ecosystem of performance management technology providers that support those core capabilities. And that’s fine as far as it goes.

    But that is also a problem. In the end, those are questions about the tool’s capabilities, not about the competencies required to implement your strategy.

    Strategy drives competencies, competencies drive PM

    Strategy is the expression of an organization’s mission,
    goals, objectives and interrelated action plans for achieving each of those

    Those are the factors that determine what competencies you need to build, maintain and nurture.

    Mapping strategy components onto various functions — product development, production, marketing, sales, management and administration and partnerships — helps define and prioritize the tasks that you ask each of your people to perform.

    Answering strategic performance management questions requires the customer, and solution provider, to understand how each job – and any associated development plans and career ladders – feed into the organization’s strategic goals.

    An understanding of the competencies needed to support your strategic aims provides a framework for defining jobs, assessing performance and guiding employee development.

    Shared understanding of why, what and how

    If each of your processes flow directly from strategy, you can trace everyone’s work (actions and behaviors) from task to outcome.

    That allows everyone to see how their work combines with everyone else’s to enable the organization’s strategic ambitions.

    When everyone shares a strategy-based understanding of job responsibilities and interdependencies, they are empowered to hold themselves, and each other, accountable for outcomes.

    They can see where changes and improvements in their jobs might better support strategy. And they can anticipate and participate in realizing those changes.

    Feedback and adjustment

    So, if everything flows from strategy, is this a one-way, top down process?

    No. Like any successful living organism, companies, government agencies, charitable foundations or any other group enterprise operate in an infinite series of feedback loops and adjustment mechanisms.

    Designing a performance management structure and selecting the tools that can best support that structure needs to be a similarly interactive process.

    PMS design needs to include ways to capture and consider input from all stakeholders ranging from senior executive management through to line managers, employees and unions and, in many cases, indirect input from end customers.

    Are you optimizing people or processes?

    When companies were measuring how many acceptable widgets came off production Line B, and knew they’d be making those widgets for the foreseeable future, performance was easier to assess and to manage.

    Employees weren’t expected to change tasks on the fly, if at all. Training requirements were well-defined and could focus on a few specific skills.

    Today, however, you need every employee ready to quickly learn new skills and perform new tasks to support an evolving strategy.

    Managers need visibility into how workers’ capabilities fit with their current jobs and insight into any talents and interests that would be valuable elsewhere.

    Workers need to see how their skills fit with current tasks and what new skills they can and should develop to climb their chosen career ladder.

    That means both managers and workers need a holistic view of current and future competency requirements.

    And there is a real payoff: the more of a role your employees play in recommending and selecting skills they want to develop, the more excited they will be to use those skills.

    Performance management is everyone’s responsibility

    Of course, these highly complex and interdependent performance management tools and processes are only valuable if used consistently across your organization.

    Here again, tying the performance management process back to strategy makes it clear to all stakeholders just how critical it is.

    Leadership support for and continued attention to employee development sets the tone, but ease of use plays a huge part in how effective PM processes and technology solutions are for the organization.

    Employees and managers need to be able to learn and use PM systems without a massive time investment that takes away from productivity.

    That means organizations need to make learning and using performance management processes and tools part of every job description.

    And organizations should push PMS providers to continually improve both user interfaces and user training so those meet your specific needs.

    Measuring performance management ROI

    Performance management systems provide powerful tools for developing and nurturing competencies, making them among the most important investments an organization must make.

    Ultimately, performance management that maximizes workforce development and flexibility in line with a strategic framework is what differentiates successful and less successful organizations – even in the most highly-automated industries.

    The return on your performance management investment can be measured in financial terms reflecting increased efficiency, reduced turnover and other metrics.

    But the true measure of a successful PMS implementation is a flexible, teachable workforce that understands and supports your strategy and that has the resources they need to succeed and grow with your business.

    The post Performance management success factors: Align PM with organizational strategy appeared first on HR Morning.

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    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Management, Performance Managemnt, Rewards and Recognition, Special Report

    With all the talk about “employee engagement,” it’s only fair to ask, “Can I really get all the people in my organization to give their best – every day?”

    The short answer is probably not “all.” But with the right amount of effort you can get “most” of them to give their best … most of the time. And that’s a lot better than where most companies are right now.

    Boiled down to its simplest parts, employee engagement is about connecting with employees and getting them focused. It’s requires an on-going and consistent effort by managers to bring out the best in people.

    Employee engagement takes practice

    You don’t need to be good friends with every employee – but it does help to build cordial relationships. That makes working with people more productive and cohesive.

    People get more engaged in their work then the work means something to them, when they understand their role in the organization, and can see and appreciate the results of their own accomplishments.

    Here are some “hands on” ways leaders can work to improve interactions and create a deeper connection with employees and colleagues:

    • Make it personal. Use people’s names when talking to them – from the janitor to the CEO. Even better, use the names of their significant others – spouses, kids, parents – when possible.
    • Say more than hello. Sometimes it’s necessary to cut to the chase and get to the business at hand – a project, deadline, important question, etc. But in other circumstances, there’s time to show interest in employees’ and colleagues’ lives. Instead of a generic “How are you?” ask about something that affects them.
    • Talk about their interests. People surround themselves with hints of what interests them outside of work (for instance, sports ticket stubs, photos of beach trips, logo T-shirts from local events, race medals, certificates of appreciation from philanthropic groups, etc.). Look for those hints and ask about them. Once you know a little about what they do outside work, you have a starter for other conversations: “How did your son’s soccer game turn out?” “Where did you volunteer this weekend?” “Planning any vacations?”
    • Show appreciation. Avoid waiting for the end of a project or annual reviews to thank employees and coworkers for their contributions. And it’s OK to say thanks for the little things they bring to the table – a good sense of humor, a sharp eye for errors, an impeccable work station, a positive attitude.
    • Make others feel important. Feeling important is slightly different than feeling appreciated. Employees need to know they’re relevant. Let them know you recognize their contributions by referring to past successes when you talk to them personally and to others in meetings. Explain why their work was important.
    • Recognize emotions. Work and life are roller coasters of emotions. Leaders don’t have to react to every peak and valley, but they’ll want to address the highs and lows they see. For instance, “You seem frustrated and anxious lately. Is something wrong that I can help with?” Or, “I can sense you’re very excited and proud. You deserve to be.”

    Building morale

    The best morale exists when you never hear the word mentioned. If you have employees, you’ll have morale problems. No matter how thorough a company’s hiring process is, at some point leaders will have to handle morale issues because employees get stressed, are overworked and deal with difficult people.

    The good news: Most of the time, employees won’t be down if their managers build and maintain morale. To stay ahead of morale issues:

    • Communicate. Employees left in the dark will become fearful and anxious and likely make up negative news to fill the gap. This can be avoided by regularly reporting information, changes and company news.
    • Listen. While sharing information is a must, employees must also be heard. Give them different options to share their concerns and ideas. Offer the floor at department meetings, have regular one-on-one meetings, put up a suggestion box or anonymous e-mail account for submissions, invite executives to come in and listen, etc.
    • Appreciate. People who aren’t recognized for their contributions may assume they’re not doing well. Leaders should take the time to thank employees for their everyday efforts that keep the operations running smoothly. In addition, extra effort should be recognized and rewarded.
    • Be fair. Nothing hurts morale like unfair treatment. Leaders can’t turn their backs on poor performances, and they can’t play favorites. It’s best to document what’s done in response to good and bad behaviors so leaders can do the exact same thing when the situation arises again – and have a record of it.
    • Provide opportunities to grow. Growth is often equated with moving up the career ladder. But it doesn’t have to be. Many employees are motivated by learning and creating a larger role for themselves. So if people can’t move up a career ladder (because there aren’t positions available), encourage them to learn more about the company, industry or business through in-house or outside training. Or give them opportunities to grow socially by allowing them time to volunteer.
    • Create a friendly environment. Research shows people who have friends at work are more motivated and loyal to their employer. While this can’t be forced, opportunities to build friendships can be provided through potluck lunches, team-building activities and requesting staff to help in the recruiting process.
    • Paint the picture. Employees who know their purpose have higher morale than those who are “just doing the job.” Regularly explain to employees how their roles fit into the company’s mission and how they affect the department and the company.

    Praise what you want to see repeated

    Handing out recognition takes a little more skill than just saying “Good job” and giving a pat on the back, though that’s a good start.

    Giving recognition well is a skill all leaders could improve upon to keep their employees encouraged and productive.

    Here are five guidelines for recognizing good work:

    1. Make it a policy, not a perk. Set rules for different types of recognition. For instance, recognize people for tenure and meeting goals – things everyone can accomplish.
    2. Stay small. Handshakes and sincere appreciation are always welcome (especially since 65% of employees say they haven’t been recognized in the past year, according to a Gallup Poll). Leaders need to look their employees in the eye, thank them for specific work and explain why it made a difference.
    3. Add some fanfare. Recognize people at meetings when others can congratulate them.
    4. Include the team. In addition to praising individuals, recognize a whole group for coming through during an unexpected hard time, meeting a goal, working together, etc.
    5. Make it personal. When recognizing employees, match the reward and praise to the person. One person may like a quiet thank-you and a gift card to a favorite store. Someone else might thrive on applause and a certificate given at a group lunch. Find out what people like and cater to them when possible.


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    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Management, morale, productivity, Rewards and Recognition, Special Report

    Rewards matter.

    Sure, salary and benefits are key factors, too. But for any good employee worth having on your payroll, being recognized for their efforts is  as important to them as their paycheck – with the added bonus that a well-planned employee recognition program boosts retention.

    Of course, in most places there’s just not a lot of extra money for bonuses, expensive gifts or over-the-top employee recognition celebrations.

    Still, you need to do something to keep employees engaged or productivity will eventually slip – and that will affect your organization’s bottom line.

    Get Creative

    To do this employee rewards and recognition effectively, the best companies try to get creative.

    There are a lot of very effective ways to recognize employees without your CFO blowing a gasket.

    It’s not the size or the cost of the gesture that matters. It’s the thought behind it. Employees know the difference, and they’ll feel more valued if the praise is meaningful and truly relates to their day-to-day work, that is, if it relates to what they actually DO.

    For example, if they are Employee of the Month because customers won’t stop raving about them, you need to say THAT, and say what the customers said, too!

    That kind of recognition is worth its weight in gold.

    Are 42% of your employees looking to leave?

    Many employees leave their companies not because of small salaries or huge workloads, but because they aren’t recognized or rewarded.

    One popular poll on employee recognition found 42% of respondents are actively looking for new jobs, and many of them are leaving because of a lack of recognition.

    Out of these dissatisfied workers:

    • Over half (56%) don’t feel appreciated at their current job
    • Nearly three in five (59%) are dissatisfied with the lack of employee recognition at their companies
    • 37% feel that employees at their company aren’t rewarded for job performance, and
    • Close to half (45%) don’t feel their job culture is a positive one.

    From this, it’s clear: Recognizing good people is important to employee recruitment and retention.

    Yet, in spite of these finding, it’s worth noting that, in the same study, three of four managers erroneously reported back that their workers’ satisfaction was high.

    Hmmmmm, swing and a miss.

    So, if you are one of those folks who believe employees want to feel valued; that they want their companies to recognize their talent; that management can make the difference when it comes to employee retention; and that you can do a good job of that without breaking the bank, here’s help.

    Here is a breakdown of some of the most popular – and unique – ways to recognize employees, along with examples of how those rewards have improved morale and productivity in the workplace.

    Everyone loves flexible scheduling

    What’s the No. 1 perk that employees say they would love to see at their jobs: A flexible schedule.

    In the CareerBuilder survey, nearly 60% of workers said this would convince them to stick around at their jobs. Having a flexible schedule is so important to workers that many would take a pay cut in exchange for one.

    Flex scheduling can take many different forms, such as offering later arrival times for parents so they can take their children to school, or earlier departures so they can pick them up in the afternoon. Another option is allowing employees to structure their work week so it can be completed in four days instead of the standard five.

    Or, one of the more popular options is allowing employees to work from home on occasion. Employees appreciate this perk because it gives them better work-life balance, which relieves some of their stress. And a less stressed employee is a more productive one.

    As long as people can produce good results working from home, this is a great way to reward them for what they do. It’s worked wonders for a lot of companies.

    Making flex time work

    Flex time is best given to employees who’ve already demonstrated proven results. Managers know these workers don’t need constant supervision to get their work done, so they can trust them not to abuse this privilege.

    For the best people, allowing them to work from home occasionally will be appreciated. Many people thrive when working from home, citing fewer distractions and less stress than they experience in an office setting.

    Plus, it’s a key factor in achieving work-life balance, which most employees value highly in today’s world.

    Besides the obvious reward that comes from flex-time, that is, achieving a better work-life balance, putting this trust in employees is its own reward.

    Most rise to the occasion so the trust isn’t broken, and produce better work than they normally would on a typical 9-to-5 schedule.

    Allowing employees a flexible work schedule, with the ability to work from home if necessary, is a reward that’ll pay off in dividends.

    And having an established protocol for them to follow only makes this easier to stick with.

    When considering flex-time arrangements, it’s best to start by phasing the program in gradually, starting with a handful of high-performing employees.

    Tip: Managers should keep close tabs on employees’ performance and productivity in the beginning, so they know how well the arrangement works.

    Paid Time Off

    Providing extra paid days off is another perk that makes a difference in retention and serves as an excellent reward.

    This is a particularly great motivator for a job well done. If employees had to work hard to hit a tight deadline, they’ll really be happy for a bonus day of vacation or personal time.

    Another option for providing time off: Implement “half-day Fridays” where employees who meet certain performance objectives can get a jump-start on the weekend.

    Try giving employees extra time off right before a paid holiday so they’ll be able to extend their time away from the office and indulge in a little more relaxation.

    It’s a small token of appreciation that costs nothing – and it’s something employees appreciate and will value.

    Unlimited vacation time

    Some companies have gone even further in allowing their employees to have as much time off from work as they feel is necessary.


    They’ve implemented unlimited vacation policies. These policies are exactly what they sound like: Instead of having a set number of vacation days, workers are given virtually free rein to take as much vacation time as they feel they need.

    A policy of this nature is a drastic change from the normal approach toward vacation time and is likely to met by some C-levels folks with a big gulp.

    But it could be an effective way to reward people for completion of certain projects or objectives.

    Most companies who have implemented the policy have reported little abuse of the system. In fact, it’s been a real motivator for their people.

    One example is LRN, a New York-based company, that implemented an unlimited vacation policy for three years. When the policy first began, the company was very proactive about informing employees of the change and rolled it out gradually to allow workers to use their accrued vacation time.

    Results have been largely positive, with employees actually being more considerate of how their time away from the office will affect the company’s operations.

    Vacation abuse is rare; in fact, they average about three weeks a year per employee – the same as they were before the changes were implemented.

    The Wall Street Journal offered these three tips for companies that are considering such a vacation policy:

    1. Remove any unnecessary regulations. Before implementing an unlimited vacation policy, cut out any red tape adding an extra bureaucratic level to the process. Make it as simple as possible.
    2. Trust employees. Managers who have faith their workers will make good decisions when planning their vacations tend to have employees who live up to those expectations.
    3. Be clear about expectations. Make sure employees are fully aware that unlimited vacation time doesn’t mean they don’t have to fulfill their work responsibilities before taking time off. Communicate key goals and priorities to them so they know what must be handled before they leave.


    Managers that really want to make their incentive programs stand out can go the extra mile and offer top performers the chance to go on a sabbatical.

    The difference between a sabbatical and regular time off: Sabbaticals can be used for professional development purposes.

    One company in Dallas, The Marketing Arm, has created a unique program for its long-term employees that incorporates sabbaticals as a reward for company loyalty.

    An employee who’s worked at the company for seven years gets a seven-day sabbatical, and employees who’ve logged 15 years at the company get 15 days.

    Workers get a small stipend for the sabbatical, and they must take all the time off at once. Many have used the time to develop a skill they’ve always wanted to learn more about or help others less fortunate.

    Offering this perk has been a real boon for The Marketing Arm: The company’s been able to recruit and retain top talent because of these sabbaticals.

    Managers may wish to offer this as a reward for particularly notable high performers, with the inclusion of a stipend being wholly optional.

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