Performance Management

June 17, 2009

Since hiring doesn’t seem to be the biggest issue right now, I thought I’d jump to managing the performance of your existing employees.

Setting goals

In First Break all the Rules, the authors challenge some of the conventional wisdom with respect to management. General philosophy is that people don’t change much. So, don’t waste time trying to put in what is not present. Instead, try to leverage what is already in. That is hard enough

For instance, when selecting the ‘right person’ for a job, you might think that finding someone with the prior experience, the right level of intelligence, and the necessary willpower would be most important. But, the book asserts that talent is more important.

Based on this philosophy of hiring people for their talents then drives how you set their goals and objectives. You should focus on the right outcomes and let your talented people define their own path. But, this does not mean let them do anything that they want, still follow required steps.

Motivating people

Also based on the revelation that people don’t fundamentally change, you are better off finding out what motivates an employee rather than pestering them about their shortcomings. Position them to use their strength to their advantage and adjust, as necessary, to compensate for their weaknesses. This defies the ‘golden rule’ of treating everyone as you would have them treat you. The manager is challenges to customize their style to elicit the maximum performance from the individual employees. Also, a bit counter-intuitive is the strategy of spending time with your top performers rather than fixating your attention and time on others.

Climbing the ladderThis perspective also then shapes how you develop your organization. You can’t simply assume that it is best to promote people to the next rung of management. You’ll end up putting employees into roles that they don’t want and in which they won’t succeed. Instead, find positions in which individuals can be successful and ‘create heroes’ by recognizing them for excelling at what they are good at. Also, create ‘safety nets’ that allow people to try new responsibilities without fear of failure.

The People Advantage

June 15, 2009

First break all the rulesFrom First Break All the Rules, a required text in the NI Supervisory Development Series, the value of an organization lies in its people. So, the only way to generate enduring profits is to attract, focus, and keep talented employees.

At National Instruments, we say that our greatest and most sustainable long-term competitive advantage is our culture and our employees who directly influence the continued success of our stakeholders. It seem like our partners agree. When surveyed about the value of the NI relationship, the top response (42%)is that we have great people to work with.Alliance - NI People Greatest Value

If possible, having great people may even be more important in a labor-intensive business like consulting and integration. So, finding and developing good people is just as important as finding and developing good projects.

The People Process

Beyond, the administrative details of HR management, there are several key steps in effective people management.

  1.  Hiring the right people
  2. Providing the necessary training and skills development
  3. Setting expectations and goals
  4. Providing feedback and performing reviews
  5. Recognizing achievement and handling performance issues.
  6. Demonstrating leadership and establishing culture.

As with any other process in your company, you can work to define and improve each element. If you agree that your employees are your most important asset, then why wouldn’t you?