Business success, like success on the sports field, comes down to a clear strategy and precise execution — all made possible through a succinct vision, strong leadership and teamwork.
Effective execution requires input at all levels of the organization. On the football field, the head coach, assistant coaches, the quarterback, trainers, etc. are all responsible for getting the team properly conditioned, aligned and focused on the end-game: winning the Super Bowl.
In the same vein, for an organization to achieve the vision its set for itself senior leaders have a responsibility to coach and develop. But this responsibility goes one step further. Your senior leaders also need to hold other leaders accountable for coaching and development.
For that to happen, you need executive buy-in of your performance management strategy, and your executives must participate in its execution. And you, HR professional, have a responsibility to help your senior leaders understand why their participation is crucial.
Why effective performance management requires executive buy-in
You’ve likely heard this statement before: organizations that effectively manage performance have better business results… but the point often missed here is that so much of that success depends on having a strong leadership team (not one coach or quarterback but rather, many of them!) working in sync to move the organization forward.
In fact, Bersin by Deloitte research indicates that in organizations with very frequent executive engagement with performance management, 81 percent had strong business results — and none had below-average business results.
So let’s back up for a minute. Say you’ve laid down the framework for an effective performance management strategy in your organization. Assumingly that means you’ve got:
- the strategy;
- a simple and easy to use technology to automate your performance management processes;
- a system for measuring performance management outcomes; and
- supporting communications, tools and resources to reinforce the value of all of the above.
The one element missing? Buy in. And like I said it starts at the top.
The sad reality is that leadership support, or rather lack thereof, is one of the top challenges related to effective performance management. One of the main reasons for this lack of support is that your executives may not promote, understand or model behaviors needed to foster a strong coaching culture.
For this reason you need to see yourself as coaching from the sidelines. Providing your executive team with (and other leaders too) the information, tools and resources to demonstrate how and why they need to be involved.
7 steps to getting your executives on board with performance management
With this point in mind, here are seven steps to getting your executives on board with your performance management strategy:
Step 1: Get face time with your executives and leaders
Lots of face time. You need to demonstrate the value of your performance management strategy to the success of the organization and their role in helping all employees work together to achieve that success. This isn’t about one meeting where you present your plan and that’s that.
Success requires multiple meetings with leaders at all levels of the organization. Involve them in articulating their role in making the strategy a success then hold them accountable.
Step 2: Stay focused on your objective
Achieving the vision your organization has set by effectively aligning your performance management processes to your organization’s business strategy.
Step 3: Do your homework
Know what is most important to your organization by understanding your organization’s strengths and opportunities. Examples of this include knowing where you have the largest market share, what your competition is up to, or how new government regulations or the growing economy will affect your business.
Step 4: Ask the right questions
Lead your executives to provide the answers on why effective performance management is necessary for success. Do your homework beforehand (see step 3) so that you’re asking the right questions. Keep your questions open ended and phrase them in a way that ties back to the bottom line. Then remain quiet to allow your leaders to find and own the answers.
Step 5: Create an action plan for next steps
What are executives going to start, stop and continue to do to effectively manage performance? How will they support other leaders in the organizations do the same? Articulating this action plan is crucial for you to foster a top down coaching culture.
Step 6: Follow up on action plan
An important part of coaching involves reinforcement. Follow up on action plans and continue to coach for maximum goal achievement. Ensure leaders are doing the same with their employees.
Step 7: Measure success
Demonstrate the success of effective performance management and the impact on the bottom line. For example, show how coaching increases employee engagement and performance which in turn can decrease turnover, reduce costs and increase revenue.
Individual commitment to a group effort
Looping back to my football analogy, I give you a quote from Vince Lombardi, one of most successful coaches in NFL history:
“Individual commitment to a group effort — that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.”
If you can get your executive team to actively take part in executing on your organization’s performance management strategy everyone wins. Which means your organization is one step closer to winning its version of the Super Bowl.