Matching Organization and Employee Objectives
This means the program should attempt to match the employee’s career goals and aspirations with those of the company or organization. Some may wonder how that’s possible, but put another way, employees will be most productive if they see their present performance leading to increased responsibilities with possible advancement and higher pay.
So if present responsibilities and tasks are enjoyable and advancement is an objective, then assigning and completing additional tasks that are part of the company’s objectives will contribute to the achievement of both employee and company goals and objectives. All of this can be achieved through regular surveying and discussion of employee job satisfaction and career aspirations, then using that information in developing the next Workplan. When developing an employee’s Workplan for a new fiscal year, there should be provision for training and development for that employee. We recommend that such training or development be included on the actual Workplan so the employee not only has the authority to take the training, but also has a responsibility to implement what was learned to improve productivity and the overall performance of the organization. That process leads to improved employee job satisfaction and satisfied employees are more productive employees.
Identifying company expectations.
As Owners and Managers, we often assume that all the employee needs to know is what tasks and responsibilities are to be carried out at any given time. Dr. Ken Blanchard, author of The One Minute Manager, has said we should always be trying to “catch people doing something right”. He’s talking about the benefits of positive reinforcement. However, as Managers we first have to make sure the employee is doing the right thing, before we can catch him / her doing it right. We believe a lot of supervisory time can be saved by defining the tasks and responsibilities of a given position – so the employee is doing the right thing. Then we need a simple, regular evaluation process to illustrate that those same tasks and responsibilities are being done right. That’s the long term formal approach. Of course Dr. Blanchard encourages us to be informally providing that positive reinforcement all the time. Employees will be more productive if the company’s expectations are clearly defined on Job Descriptions, and Appraisals are used regularly to evaluate how those expectations are being met. We also want systems that we can readily adapt to changes in the market, changes in the priorities of the organization and changes in policies and procedures
Relative Importance of Responsibilities
An employee in any position in a company or organization will have a list of objectives to be met and /or duties for which he or she is responsible. Those objectives should be formally identified in a Job Description and some programs will list the objectives or responsibilities in order of priority. However, that doesn’t provide the employee with information regarding how much more important one objective or responsibility is than another. A worthwhile evaluation of an employee’s performance can only be made if it is weighted according to the importance of the various objectives and responsibilities.
How well an employee meets his or her objectives will influence how well the business achieves its objectives. We must remember that the collective objectives and responsibilities of all employees are essentially the same as the overall objectives of the business or oganization. However, we also know that, for a variety of reasons, not all employees meet objectives to the same degree. But how is that evaluated? We have found that the most effective way to incorporate a weighting of that importance is done by assigning points for each objective or responsibility according to its importance and to the amount of time spent on it. Those points are best used on a combination Workplan and Appraisal form.
Similar responsibilities can have similar weighting, helping to ensure fairness and consistency in appraisals. Good employees like to know when they’re doing a good job. And a business needs to know how well it’s meeting its objectives. A Performance Planning program can do both by identifying the relative importance of various objectives and responsibilities and evaluating employees accordingly.
Identifying responsibilities for specific time periods
A key element in any Performance Planning program is a regular, consistent series of appraisals.
It seems easy for us as owners and managers to neglect employee communication. Job satisfaction can usually be enhanced by keeping employees informed about the business and their contributions to its success. It is extremely beneficial to communicate with employees, formally on a regular basis and informally as situations dictate. While informal communications can take place any time, formal communications should be scheduled in two formats. First, regular staff meetings should be held to discuss issues of general interest. Second, one-on-one sessions with employees should be scheduled two to four times per year, depending on the organization and the employee’s duties and responsibilities. Those sessions should include performance reviews or progress reviews to monitor the status of progress toward objectives. All too often, communication takes place only when there are problems or issues that need to be addressed. While short meetings may be routine, a more formal discussion, scheduled regularly, allows both the employee and supervisor to prepare in advance and have more productive, two-way discussions.
Management employees who may have objectives relating to budget or business plan numbers will have the formal appraisal at year end, but progress reviews through the year help to identify issues that should be addressed immediately, rather than held off until year-end. Non-management should have their reviews every three to six months. Setting up a review schedule will help employees in reaching objectives and ultimately improve job satisfaction as well. A Performance Planning program should provide fixed time frames over which their formal evaluations or appraisals will take place.
Identifying consequences of performance and behaviour.
Owners and Managers want management tools that help them easily and conveniently monitor and document behavior and performance. It’s unfortunate, but all too often an employee finds himself / herself out of a job and didn’t see the dismissal coming. That situation usually arises from poor performance or bad behavior, both of which could be prevented with two items: 1) A basic Personnel Policy, to outline behavior expectations, and 2) Performance Appraisals to monitor objectives and responsibilities. The Personnel Policy should identify the company’s expectations of the employee and also explain what the employee can expect from the company. We recommend that new employees be required to read and sign off on the company Personnel Policy the first day on the job. They should also be advised of the consequences of both good and bad behavior. Just as important is the need to discuss specific examples of behavior at the time they happen. As Dr. Ken Blanchard says, we want to “catch people doing something right” – an excellent way to improve employee morale.
Performance Appraisals outline the objectives and responsibilities of the position, along with appropriate timelines. Regular reviews of progress on those objectives and responsibilities give both the employee and the supervisor insight into overall performance. While many objectives may be longer term, possibly through a complete fiscal year, progress should be reviewed more often. We suggest that should be done formally two to four times per year, but more frequent, informal monitoring is often beneficial. Day to day responsibilities may require continuous monitoring, as well as at the formal reviews. Employees need to know in advance what the consequences of good and bad performance and behavior are, not at the end of their employment. Identifying consequences of performance and behavior also significantly reduces the incidence of “wrongful dismissals”.
Providing a basic communication line between employee and supervisor.
Scheduling performance reviews helps achieve employee and company objectives as discussed above. We need to discuss issues as they arise, but unless we schedule sessions like staff meetings, and especially the regular performance reviews, we often don’t have true “communication”. By its very definition, communication needs to be two-way and that is best accomplished by scheduling performance or progress reviews on a regular basis. “Catching people doing something right” has to become a habit on the part of supervisors. It means short discussions on positive matters, not just when something needs to be corrected. Having regular, formal appraisal interviews forces everyone to participate in overall communication. We find that some employees, more than others, feel more comfortable in initiating communication with superiors; but those who are less inclined may have issues or suggestions that are every bit as important to the organization. Scheduled meetings and interviews help ensure that we keep communication lines open with all employees and should be an integral part of your Performance Planning program. Part of this process is something we call an Employee Career Plan – a document completed each year by each employee. It provides an opportunity to indicate career objectives and to provide valuable input and feedback to superiors. It also acts as a basis for discussions during formal appraisal interviews.
Provides consistency in performance and behaviour evaluation.
Weighting of objectives and responsibilities also assists in making appraisals consistent among all employees. Employees are very aware when supervisors appear to use different standards, depending on who is being evaluated. That results in morale problems and less teamwork. Implementing a good Performance Planning program forces us to use the same standards for employees having the same, or at least similar, objectives and responsibilities. We prefer a system that is formal, consistent, and particularly for numerical objectives, leaves no room for subjectivity and the possibility of the appearance of unfair evaluations. This also makes it easier for employees to monitor their own skill development. Without consistent evaluation, employees may feel they aren’t progressing and that may lead to reduced job satisfaction and even a higher staff turnover rate.
Reducing the need for day-to-day supervision.
Owners and managers want to take the least amount of time assigning various duties and responsibilities. Much of that time can be avoided if Job Descriptions clearly identify key objectives and responsibilities. In addition, we find that by using Workplans that allocate points to objectives and responsibilities based on their importance, employees know automatically which duties need to take priority. Over time, employees become proficient at completing various tasks and meeting objectives in order of priority with less coaching and supervision. Employees benefit from having defined duties and responsibilities since it enhances their skill development and allows them to demonstrate their ability to perform well without so much direct supervision. That allows supervisory staff to elevate their levels of responsibility because they spend less time on the details of direct supervision. The productivity of supervisory staff drops very quickly if they are frequently interrupted by subordinates looking for immediate direction.
It Reduces “Crisis Management” Situations
Virtually every organization occasionally encounters situations that may be viewed as a “crisis”, by other employees, by customers or clients and / or by owners and shareholders. These are situations where decisions or actions must be made immediately, with little time for discussion or study. Common causes of such situations are: 1) Employees involved don’t have the answer to a question or problem; 2) Employees don’t know who to turn to for help or advice; 3) There are no clear lines of authority for decision-making; 4) Fear of the consequences of making a wrong decision and a further crisis results from no decision being made.
We recommend that where there is an Owner or Manager, Supervisory staff and junior staff, a simple Organizational Chart should be developed to define lines of authority. However, each position must have Job Description which identifies key responsibilities and also the more senior position to which that position reports. Wording of the key responsibilities should help in delegating responsibilities as well. A position “Co-ordinating” a certain function will have more authority than a position “Assisting” with that same function. There should also be information provided in the Personnel Policy regarding certain activities which require input or approval from a Manager or Supervisor.
Provides a continuous record of employee’s skill development.
As mentioned previously, formal performance appraisals should be completed 2 to 4 times each year; informal progress discussions should be held more often. A review of past appraisals will assist a supervisor in monitoring the skill development of individual employees. This leads to improved productivity and employee job satisfaction by:
- Allowing the supervisor to provide coaching where required
- Determining which employees are capable of handling increased responsibility and / or promotion
- Provides documentation of skill development so employee capabilities can be measured consistently throughout the organization
- Assists in determining overall and individual training requirements
- Assists with succession planning
- Becomes the vehicle for matching employee career aspirations with company goals and objectives as closely as possible
Employees appreciate having documentation of their skill development. Formal appraisals allow the employee and the supervisor to concentrate on responsibilities that capitalize on basic strengths and, wherever possible, use coaching and training to develop lesser skills.
Helping facilitate delegation.
When Owners and Managers who start out with only one or two employees, they are quite capable of defining and monitoring performance and behavior. However, as the organization grows in the number of employees, it becomes increasingly difficult to do so. They then want a management tool that will help with delegation while assisting with development of employee supervisory skills. Job Descriptions should list key objectives and responsibilities using specific action words. Examples include “Co-ordinate, Develop, Implement, Complete, etc. If those words are used in the Job Description of a senior person, then a subordinate may have similar duties with wording such as “Assist with the co-ordination of ……” This also provides the opportunity to develop that senior person’s supervisory skills by having them help in evaluating the performance of the subordinate. At the end of each fiscal year, or sooner if a “re-organization” is required, the Job Descriptions and Workplans need to be reviewed and revised to meet the needs of the organization. Virtually every organization will have some change in priorities from one year to the next. Owners and managers want to be able to communicate those changes quickly and easily while continuing to assign accountability for those changes in priority. Owners and Managers want task and responsibility delegation to be a win-win-win situation – wins for the supervisor, the subordinate and the organization.
Provides a vehicle for employees to document their career goals and monitor progress.
We strongly suggest that any performance planning program include a document that employees would complete each year to document their career goals and the training they feel would be required to meet those goals. Supervisors can then compare those goals with those of the organization and, where appropriate, authorize the necessary training. Employees will often request more training opportunities than are affordable in time or finances, but will still be enthused about their training if they can see that such training is contributing to their long term career goals. The added step that is sometimes missed involves having the employee become responsible for taking the training and being accountable for implementing what was learned to help improve productivity. Employees will feel more positive about their work if they can see how their enhanced skills and productivity are contributing to the success of the organization. When these steps are implemented and documented, both productivity and employee job satisfaction improve. Organizations benefit from some form of succession planning and employees like to see that promotion within the organization is possible. When employee skill development is documented, matches long term career objectives and can be seen as providing promotion opportunities, the entire process becomes a win-win situation for both employee and employer.
The above features and benefits are a Major contributor to IMPROVED PERFORMANCE.