Architecting High Performance Management Systems

“If you put a good performer in a bad system, the system will win almost every time.” – Geary Rummler

Our model for a high-performance system has six subsystems, or components, that can be adjusted by leadership and must be perfectly aligned to enable the highest levels of performance. These six levers include:

1. Capacity and Job Fit

New hires need to have the capability to succeed in a role, where success can be defined as being a high-performer 12 months into the role. The talent acquisition process needs to clearly determine that a candidate has the requisite talent to perform the outcomes of the job to a great degree, not simply possess the desired behaviors and/or competencies.

2. Motivation and Preferences

The talent acquisition process also needs to ascertain that a candidate has an inclination or motivation to perform the type of work required by the role.

As a TTi SI Value Added Associate, our DISC DNA profile process can help ensure you increase the likelihood of recruiting talent that matches these first two components.

3. Skills and Knowledge

A structured system needs to be in place to measure the new hire’s current skill level and provide role-specific training to close any gaps. Ideally, a new hire and incumbent training curriculum is based upon how the best in the role perform the job.

4. Expectations and Feedback

Role expectations need to be accomplishment-based; not simply behaviorally based. New hires need to know what they must produce, not simply what tasks they need to perform. Producing more of an activity that doesn’t impact the bottom line is both a waste of time and effort. We are advocates of deliberate practice and feedback and believe one of the most powerful vehicles to delivering this is through regular 1:1s that hold employees accountable to the role standard through a tailored action plan.

5. Rewards, Recognition and Consequences

These sub-systems need to align with business results, not just activity. Too often we find clients incenting favorable outcomes achieved undesirably, or reward doing more over getting more done.

6. Environments, Systems and Resources

The culture, work processes, tools and resources need to provide direct support to the new hire, enabling the individual to succeed immediately. In our study of high performers, we have found they invariably have a rich internal network that helps them navigate the organizational white space, as well as tools and templates stemming from their mental model of how to preform the role. When this is transparent and transferred to new hires in the form of performance support and job aids, we are able to decrease time to competence in role.

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The problem we encounter in most of our clients is that no one person has responsibility for all of subsystems and there is no shared standard for success for judging the adequacy of each of those subsystems.

However, leveraging a Role Excellence Profile (REP) provides the common goal – the accomplishments that need to be produced and the shared criteria for judging success. This allows the subsystem ‘owners’ (CEO, CRO, CHRO, CIO/CTO, etc.) to manage each subsystem against a common standard and remove barriers that impact the ability to drive business results.

To learn more about our process, read Exemplary Performance – Driving Business Results by Benchmarking Your Star Performers, 2 ed

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Client Example

Exemplary Performance (EP) studied high performers from a pool of over 12,000 managers in a major high technology company. We helped this company identify the managers whose teams consistently produced exemplary results. We then interviewed these managers to capture how they were able to generate and sustain high performance. Based on these interviews, we produced a Profile of Management Excellence (PoME) which included the key accomplishments, excellence indicators, critical tasks, and other data.

This PoME served as the design specifications, allowing us to architect a management performance system that had measurable impact on key metrics such as revenue, cost of sales, employee retention, employee engagement, and customer satisfaction.

Given the data captured in the profile (a subset of which is shown below), we worked with the client to systematically architect several components of the overall management performance system such as:

  • Hiring (job descriptions and hiring guides)
  • Skills and Knowledge (on-boarding, performance support, and continuous up-skilling)
  • Recognition and Rewards (compensation, circle of management excellence, etc) and
  • Leadership (precision coaching tools)

All system components were architected and aligned to mutually reinforce the results defined in the Profile of Management Excellence.

Read below for the full list of manager accomplishments:

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Primary Accomplishments

  1. Accurate and appropriate measurement and tracking of individual and team performance

  2. A team performance system where direct reports are supported in doing their best work

  3. Qualified new employees with shortened time-to-competence

  4. Consistent progress of direct reports toward career aspirations and development plans

  5. Well-developed and highly competent direct reports and team

  6. Group and team operational direction, excellence, and continuity

Primary Accomplishments A

Excellence Indicators (EIs) (Observable leading indicators/outcomes of excellence)

  1. Over time, the manager’s internal employee satisfaction results improved or remained at high levels.

  2. Direct reports demonstrated consistent growth in compensation and were given appropriate promotions.

  3. Reviews resulted in a fair and objective assessments for each direct report.

  4. Yearly goals for each direct report aligned to organization and corporate priorities and included stretch goals.

Key Actions (Core and critical actions that contribute to the achievement of the Excellence Indicators)

  1. Review and analyze employee survey results, management feedback, and ad hoc survey/scores to develop an appropriate team action plan.

  2. Guide direct reports through discussions to define annual commitments.

  3. Manage underperforming direct reports to ensure business results are not compromised.

  4. Discuss group performance and health in regular team meetings.

Primary Accomplishments B

Excellence Indicators (EIs) (Observable leading indicators/outcomes of excellence)

  1. Changes to the system are quickly implemented without compromising team or individual performance.

  2. Direct reports demonstrate that they know their role, value, and contribution to their team, organization, and the company.

  3. Managers remove process barriers that prohibit the team from focusing on business objectives.

  4. Direct reports recruit others to join manager’s team.

Key Actions (Core and critical actions that contribute to the achievement of the Excellence Indicators)

  1. Establish a recognition and reward system that supports the attainment of organizational strategies and goals.

  2. Remove barriers that impact team business results.

  3. Establish and maintain a method for giving performance feedback to direct report

  4. Foster, promote, or build strong team connections and interpersonal relationships.

Primary Accomplishments C

Excellence Indicators (EIs) (Observable leading indicators/outcomes of excellence)

  1. New hires achieve success equal to, or hire, than first day intentions.

  2. Managers solicit positive anecdotal feedback from the new direct report’s peers.

  3. E-mail escalations on issues involving the new direct report do not occur.

  4. Managers do not make hiring concessions simply to meet headcount commitments

Key Actions (Core and critical actions that contribute to the achievement of the Excellence Indicators)

  1. Selected and worked with the interviewing team to establish the interview protocol and questions.

  2. Personally arranged for new employee set-up.

  3. Assigned a peer mentor to new direct report and monitor progress.

  4. Conducted introductory meetings with new direct report.

  5. Worked with new direct report to develop an initial set of commitments.

  6. Created a custom on-boarding program based on assessment of new hire’s skills and knowledge

Primary Accomplishments D

Excellence Indicators (EIs) (Observable leading indicators/outcomes of excellence)

  1. Managers balance current in-role development and prepare direct reports for future aspirational roles

  2. Managers engaged in the success of the team.

  3. Managers committed to the organization’s career development model.

  4. Managers committed to serving in the role as mentor/coach to their direct reports.

  5. High employee retention.

  6. Positive attrition (direct reports who earned internal promotions that benefit the employee and the organization).

  7. Direct reports are promoted based on their experience, demonstration of competency, and delivery of results in light of business need.

  8. Direct report progresses within role.

  9. Manager progresses within role or to next career objective.

Key Actions (Core and critical actions that contribute to the achievement of the Excellence Indicators)

  1. Conduct career discussions with each direct report, using HR tools and processes.

  2. Plan for and take part in your own career development discussions with your manager and mentor(s).

  3. Prepare for and conduct a development coaching session with a direct report.

  4. Discuss career aspirations in regular one-on-ones with direct reports.

  5. Identify and arrange for in-group or cross-group career development opportunities for direct reports.

Primary Accomplishments E

Excellence Indicators (EIs) (Observable leading indicators/outcomes of excellence)

  1. Each employee meets or exceeds their respective commitments

  2. Merit increases and promotions align with expected team and individual commitments and company guidelines.

  3. Leadership and others acknowledge the quality of manager’s team performance and contributions to the organization.

  4. Managers accurately report back on training requirements for employees and for the team as a whole.

Key Actions (Core and critical actions that contribute to the achievement of the Excellence Indicators)

  1. Follow through with direct reports after development activities to facilitate improved job performance.

  2. Promote and encourage sharing of best practice and lessons learned among the team.

  3. Conduct an effective one-on-one meeting with each direct report.

  4. Prepare for and conduct a constructive feedback session with a direct report.

  5. Ensure that training for direct reports is relevant, utilized, and improves performance.

Primary Accomplishments F

Excellence Indicators (EIs) (Observable leading indicators/outcomes of excellence)

  1. Team performance continues uninterrupted when the team is short-staffed.

  2. Managers meet or exceed planned commitments (such as budget, business, and succession) as set by leadership.

  3. All planning and commitment setting aligns with the organization’s vision.

  4. Managers effectively balance short-term requirements for the group with long-term strategies.

  5. Team meets its fiscal year commitments each year.

Key Actions (Core and critical actions that contribute to the achievement of the Excellence Indicators)

  1. Communicate the vision/mission to the team as it relates to the team’s organizational purpose and expected results.

  2. Build and maintain a management talent pipeline.

  3. Advocate for and secure open headcount to satisfy resource requirements.

  4. Create an execution/operations document that translates strategy into actions.

  5. Prioritize and assign work to direct reports that support the execution/operations document.

  6. Develop team preparedness to assume responsibilities of other team members in the event of an absence.

  7. Negotiate for and allocate resources in support of business and organizational objectives.

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