In this guest post, Halogen Customer Account Manager Jorie Basque shares why CEOs need to lead by example when it comes to using performance management as a tool to create a high performance culture.
As I hang up the phone, the lament of the human resources manager I just spoke with rings in my head. "Why oh why can't I get the CEO to complete the evaluations of his or her direct reports when he/she is the person who championed the need for a performance management system in the first place?"
The answer on the surface seems pretty straightforward. Making the decision to spend money on something that is designed to improve employee morale, engagement and productivity is relatively easy as a CEO; but the ugly underbelly is the need to commit to the time and effort required to produce those desired results.
Many would say it's the time aspect of this equation that challenges the CEO; they are simply too busy, and the task, because it's automated, appears administrative.
Skipping performance appraisals because you're too busy just doesn't cut it
I am going out on a limb to say that time management has little to do with it.
CEOs are not unlike any other manager in an organization. They feel uncomfortable delving into the task of evaluating the valued individuals whose daily work affords them their own success. And for CEOs, it's much easier to focus on the big picture vision and strategy than the people who make that strategy a reality.
But I want to tell you that this spells disaster.
The only thing worse than having nothing in place to evaluate, reward and develop individuals with is to put something in place and use it ineffectively. You have a human resources department working hard to rally the troops around a culturally critical initiative. If this initiative falls flat at the highest level, how can your organization build a high performance culture?
My appeal: leverage your performance management system
Investing in your strongest assets - your people - is not about buying a performance management system. It's about leveraging that system to maximize corporate potential - and that starts with you.
You would never want to be painted as someone who makes a promise and then doesn't deliver, but that is exactly what you do when you make the promise of performance management and then fall short on the delivery.
You owe this to your direct reports and to your entire organization, as well as to your shareholders and board.
Walk the talk, lead by example
Your direct reports, even though they are seasoned leaders themselves, still need: clear goals and targets to achieve that are aligned with the organization's strategy, feedback on their performance, and coaching and development so they continually improve and succeed. They need recognition and rewards that encourage high performance. And they need guidance and help to manage their continued career progression. Give them all this and their performance and engagement will improve.
When you support your direct reports in these ways, they are more likely to give this support to their own employees, driving up their performance and engagement.
And when employees and managers at all levels know that their leaders are engaging in the same performance management activities and processes as they are, they're more likely to commit to them themselves and see their value.
Research that shows how improved alignment, performance and engagement leads to better business results.
So please CEOs, walk the talk, lead by example. Complete performance appraisals for all your direct reports, and engage them in an ongoing dialogue about expectations, performance and development.
Doing so will bring you one step closer to building a high performance culture.
For more on effective leadership and its impact on organizational culture, read this post by Liz Pellet where she outlines how the actions and behaviors of leaders speak louder than words.