As MD are you faced with the people challenge where sales is in conflict with operations, or account managers are in dispute with production or the ‘creatives’, or operations not working well with IT? It might be between 2 individual or it might be between the functions themselves. Conflict is inevitable and sometimes desirable to unleash that creative breakthrough, but does the problem seem to be getting bigger – particularly as you grow?
In Part 1, I outlined two quick ways of resolving differences between two individuals or departments. Part 2 looks at a longer term solution, which takes time to embed. Part 2 looks at improving your performance management system.
If appraisals happen at all, they tend to focus on the most recent activity because there is insufficient detail or memory about events 11 months ago. Inevitably there is an underlying tension around any pay increases exacerbated by difficult economic conditions over recent years. So both parties go through the pain with little gain to be shown from an often excruciating encounter.
But it could all be so different with a mind-set shift and clarity about what the business is trying to achieve.
The first stage is to step back and think about what the business/department needs to achieve over the next 24 months and seek to quantify this. This helps the appraiser think ahead to what needs to be achieved and enables the appraiser to then start thinking about objectives for the appraisee.
The first time around with this ‘new’ appraisal system takes a bit of getting used to. One outcome is to agree objectives for the next review period. If you are feeling brave ie have a different mind-set you might also want to reflect on both what the appraisee has achieved in the last period as well as how s/he has achieved things. Taking the brave pill to address the carnage caused by over-achieving against objectives puts the business in a much stronger place. A poor relationships with another function is probably part of a set of behaviours that impact on other areas. For example, a brusque communication style may get things done internally and externally but not be conducive to building relationships. So naming the issue, getting agreement that it is a problem, agreeing a way forward and monitoring progress brings about the behaviour change.
Depending on your business, I would also advocate quarterly or six monthly reviews to ensure the achievement of objectives are on track, behavioural issues can be dealt with quickly and any training needs provided. More frequent reviews are particularly helpful in businesses driven by performance measures (FMCG, retail, manufacturing) so that performance dips are dealt with in a timely way.
This takes a few appraisal meetings to start to bite but the impact is greater clarity as to what is going well (achievement of objectives), areas for improvement (technically and behaviourally) and better business performance because people know what is expected of them and they feel supported.
For a confidential discussion on how to make this happen, contact Stephen Cowburn.