Thursday, July 2, 2009

Stealth Performance Improvement – Making Work Visible

By Roger Addison CPT, EdD, Carol Haig, CPT, Lynn Kearny, CPT

An organization implemented a new employee development process to document employee evaluations, identify high potential workers, improve employee retention, and ensure a pipeline of promotable people for future needs. It included such typical components as:

· Set performance goals and expectations in an initial meeting with each employee

· Provide feedback at regularly scheduled intervals

· Evaluate employees’ performance annually using a formal evaluation form coupled with a discussion

· Identify opportunities for skill building and gaining experience

· Set mutually agreed upon goals with the employee for the next performance period

Unfortunately, the new process failed to meet its goals. Initially, the concerned HR manager investigated the employee development process to see if it contained any design flaws or if managers were not following the process. When nothing indicated a problem with the process and fully 98% of managers were using it, the HR manager was stymied.

Practices

When a process isn’t “broken” it is time to look at how it is actually utilized—the practices employees follow when using the process. In our example, many managers waited until the last possible moment to write up evaluations or plan skill-building opportunities. These practices resulted in shoddy documentation and employees who felt slighted. The managers also emulated the example of their senior leaders and substituted emails for face-to-face evaluations, perpetuating a practice that was detrimental to the process and its goals.

In the world of performance improvement, practices are patterns of behavior that are rarely documented in company materials, but are communicated by established employees to newer people or are learned through observation. They are part of organizational culture and represent what is important to the organization. Practices are how work gets done in organizations.

Making Practices Visible

So if practices exist under the radar, yet are responsible for performance issues that undercut goals and programs, how do we find them? Fortunately, we performance improvement types are skilled at making the invisible visible because we have tools. Some are:

· Culture maps – to break out the defining elements of an organization

· Flowcharts – to show work processes or specific steps in a process

· Swim lanes – to display the interaction of multiple processes within a system

With our observation skills, performance improvement practitioners can enlist one or more of these tools to document what employees do and say—both process and practices—to capture how work is actually accomplished.

Alignment

It is relatively easy to sabotage a well-intentioned process with inappropriate practices. In the failed employee development process we began with there was nothing inherently wrong with the process or its adoption. It was undermined by the practices of the managers using it, in imitation of their superiors, we might add. When an organization’s processes and practices are aligned, performance is likely to improve. When alignment is lacking, there is work to be done.

Learn More

For more about process and practices and other challenges at the Work: Process/Practice Level, please see chapter three in our new book, Performance Architecture – The Art and Science of Improving Organizations.

Roger Addison and Carol Haig write the long-running TrendSpotters column in this publication. Roger leads Addison Consulting. Contact him at rogeraddison@earthlink.net. Roger blogs at http://rachekup.blogspot.com .

Carol leads Carol Haig & Associates and specializes in performance analysis. Contact Carol at carolhaig@earthlink.net or at http://home.mindspring.com/~carolhaig.

Lynn Kearny leads a performance consulting firm that assesses organizational needs and design and develops performance improvement solutions. Contact her at lkearny@sprintmail.com.

36 comments:

  1. Never put both feet in your mouth at the same time, because then you will not have a leg to stand on.............................................

    ReplyDelete
  2. 忙碌的一天終於過了,來看看文章轉換心情,也幫你加個油哦~........................................

    ReplyDelete
  3. 卡爾.桑得柏:「除非先有夢,否則一切皆不成。」共勉!............................................................

    ReplyDelete
  4. 人生有些波折,才能有些成長,所以不論順逆,凡是成長、成功的助緣,都應該心存感激。..................................................

    ReplyDelete
  5. 只有尋常才幹,但具有不尋常恆心的人,一切皆可獲取................................................

    ReplyDelete
  6. 成功多屬於那些很快做出決定,卻又不輕易變更的人。而失敗也經常屬於那些很難做出決定,卻又經常變更的人.................................................... ............

    ReplyDelete
  7. 在莫非定律中有項笨蛋定律:「一個組織中的笨蛋,恆大於等於三分之二。」............................................................

    ReplyDelete