Best Practices

  1. Performance Management Best Practices: “Do your homework”

    Written By: Christine Miller, Product Center of Excellence, Performance Management

    As a consultant in the performance management space, I have worked with customers of all shapes and sizes. No matter which type of client, there are always things that a customer can consider and come prepared to discuss and/or provide in advance to make an implementation go very smoothly.

    Here is a list of the most common “Homework” assignments that can be done to help you be the best “students” you can be at the start of a performance management implementation:

    • How many forms do you think you will need? Review your current population of performance forms and what their differences are. Be ready to clearly articulate what the differences are, why the differences are important, and if you plan to keep the forms different in the new system. This will greatly help your consultant steer you toward the best approach to accomplish your goal – and if it is to simplify – help guide you to fewer forms.
    • Be clear on what your performance management culture will look like when this implementation is complete. Many of the overarching decisions around performance come with what the expected behaviors and end results will be for the user. To have an effective project, we need to know them during the early stages of the project and ensure each step of the way we are making decisions to accomplish that goal.
    • Provide examples of the reports that will need to be run by the company to show a successful implementation. I know you are probably thinking this girl is nuts…. We are just getting started, so why is she asking me about reporting? Configuration and system design will often dictate what is reportable. If the consultant doesn’t know what reporting data is critical for all levels of the business, they may not be able to guide you to the most effective results.
    • Do you have a job and competency structure already in place or is this being worked on during the implementation? Competency and job work is a very time consuming project when done well. Many times it is most effective to have a large chunk of this work already complete before starting to work through a performance management system design. This way your focus can be on the forms vs all the other components that go into the form.
    • Create an implementation team that will cover all aspects of the project. You want to be sure there are people who will focus on strategic direction of the project, people who will be active participants in the system and process design, and then people who will support the system once it is live. We will also want to engage the communication and training team early on the process so they have the information they need to design the best plan of attack to ensure user adoption. Having a well-rounded team from day one that can participate and learn together almost always leads to a more successful implementation.
    • Use process flow diagrams to describe your current process and timeline for performance as well as what you “think” the future may look like. Be sure to include all parts of the process from initial communications, to form completion, and finally compensation decisions. This will help you quickly tell the consultant the current state of process and allow you more time to focus on the future design of the system and your “wishes” for moving forward.
    • Document what are the dependencies between personal goals and a person’s performance and compensation. Your system design may be different based on how goals are used so that the data can flow to the appropriate places and modules, with the least amount of rework or administrative intervention.
    • Discuss early on what your thoughts are on loading any historical performance data into the new system. Do you want to just load historical scores and if so, for how many years? Do you want to load PDF copies into the system for reference? This best practice on this is typically just the most recent performance information but it can take time to gather this data and it may need to be in a specific format to be loaded. The sooner you know the requirements, the better you will be because you can request the information in the correct format from your previous vendor.
    • Translation services – With companies consistently becoming more global, I am seeing less and less English Only implementations. Having a translation service contracted and defined SLA’s in place and/or an internal translations team identified early, will make sure the project does not get delayed when we are heading into the last leg of implementation and looking at completing final testing.
    • Consider any label changes from current terminology and what the change management will be on those items. You would be shocked at how labels and terms, which seem so insignificant in the broad scope of a project, can derail meetings, testing and configuration if there is not agreement and discussion.
    • What will your rating scale be, if you plan to use one? Rating scales are a critical component for discussion on each project. There is documentation and training needed on how the rating scale will be used, decisions on what the expected ratings will be, typically it will be used in compensation decisions, and it is the key value in current and trending performance data analysis. With this being one of the key ways that your end users will interact with the form, you want to be sure adequate time is spent on designing and describing a scale that will inherently drive the performance you want.

    There is an age old saying by Confucius: “Success depends upon previous preparation, and without such preparation there is sure to be failure.” Nothing could be truer of the time and energy needed to have a successful performance management implementation. While it may take a little more time to get ready to kick off a project, you will save that time and more throughout the course of the project by being prepared and having the necessary “homework” ready.


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