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The Vision Thing: It’s All About Performance Management

Posted by admin on January 3, 2013

We have seen some beautiful business strategies in manufacturing companies during our careers.  Innovative, thought-provoking visions that set the direction for the company over a defined strategic timeframe.  They were launched with great fanfare, but many of these visions failed to deliver tangible results.  Why? 

A vision is of little value if employees don’t understand their individual roles in making the vision a reality.  Leadership too often overlooks this important part of the business strategy process and then wonders why strategic goals are never reached. Success means connecting strategic goals to each individual’s personal performance plan. How you communicate changes to be made - what people should do more of, less of, or do differently - and what the organization will do to help them achieve their personal goals is clearly leadership’s responsibility.

Performance should be viewed as a dynamic system across three levels of the company:

The organization level highlights the company’s relationship with its markets and the basic framework of the company’s major functions. This level establishes organizational perspective, sets strategy and direction and points to areas of threats and opportunity.

Next is the process level, a horizontal view of how work gets done, where inputs are converted to outputs; how work is assigned and managed; how people are organized; and how individual and organizational performance is tracked, rewarded or modified as part of a formal system.

Finally, there is the job level, which is the view of how the company lays out the work to be performed; the appropriate design for the work; the skills and resources required; the balance of consequences which support the desired work performance and behaviors; and a process to provide performance feedback to achieve the strategic goals and guide continuous improvement.

It is at the job level that companies find the greatest challenge, yet it is the area that can produce the greatest rewards in creating, managing and maintaining high performance within a manufacturing company. 

Effective behavior-based performance systems are purposefully engineered so that:

  • All employees know specifically what is expected of them
  • Efficient operation of processes, procedures, systems, machines, tools and equipment is assured through effective work design and clear communications
  • Job-task standards that allow for evaluation of  performance and behavior are established
  • Obstacles and job-task interferences that create conflicting demands are removed
  • Frequent and relevant coaching and feedback is provided.  The information allows employees to maintain or modify their performance or behavior over time consistent with the output, the results and the company’s expectations and values.

In addition, employees must know how to perform the job-task and are willing to do so given the incentives available. The resources to complete the job-task have to be adequate and appropriate.

Finally, employees are rewarded for the correct job-task performance or behavior as desired and expected. There is no incentive for failure or for performing in an incorrect manner.

Measuring performance includes aspects of quality, quantity, timeliness, accuracy, profit, service, rate, safety and/or cost, all of which are driven by customer requirements. These results are the critical indicators of the company’s success and health. They insure an understanding of dependencies and allow the company to track the contributions of every process, department, individual and team to the performance of the company and attaining the strategic vision.