Monday, September 21, 2009

People management

THEME: Transformation in the Midst of 2009

FOCUS: People management

Monday morning: September 21, 2009

Dear friends,

Performance management and managing talent are the new buzz words for the fall. They are hot topics in every corner office in the country. While the best companies began working on this back in ‘05 - ‘07, if not before, every one else has hopped on this band wagon now and started to focus on these issues. I routinely get calls from current and perspective clients where the major problem is the lack of a performance management system. But, if the best companies were working on this nearly 4-5 years ago, what are they doing now?

As I wrote in last week’s Monday Thoughts, the best are building community. In particular, they are attempting to build and maintain healthy social relationships and networks. Still, when I reflect, visit and dig into what exactly the senior executives are doing, I discover that they also are returning to some important but not necessarily flashy or best seller level work, namely redefining or rebuilding clarity about mission and purpose.

We live in a world which has been shaken, if not stirred, during the last 12 months. People have been in denial about our interconnectedness and have been moving at rocket speed for so long that the recession over the last 12 months has really shaken up their perception of themselves and their world. As a result, some people are feeling overwhelmed and depressed. Others are numb from it all. Some are keeping themselves busy in order to maintain their denial. Finally, those who are still employed after all of the layoffs and restructurings, are attempting to stay under the radar screen. They are survivors and they are swamped by doing all of the work of others plus their own piles.

The big question many are asking this month is simple and complex: “Why?” In a fragmented world where hope is lost and struggles abound, many people are questioning their own self-worth and the worth of the work they are doing.

Here is where performance management needs a sound foundation because having a workable system will not make a difference unless there is a clear reason for why we do what we do. In successful companies, clarity of mission or purpose is the bedrock of everything else, especially people management. It creates focus and clarity. When combined with a well designed set of core values, it can help people not only know what to do and how to do it, but also why we do what we do.

Recently, I was visiting with a new manager at a company I have worked with for many years. I asked him what he had learned after 6 months. He said to me that the mission and core values are talked about at every meeting. “They are not words on the wall around here,” he explained. “They are really used to make decisions.” I smiled because I find this happens in all of the best organizations. It also is the critical difference to making performance management work so well. When a matrix for decision making is in place, then a performance management systems works so much better than if it is just a system for setting goals and checking on goals.

This week, go back and review how you are creating clarity about the mission of your organization. Also, continue to talk about mission and core values as you build or rebuild your organization’s performance management system.

Enjoy your week,


Geery Howe, M.A.
Consultant, Executive Coach, Trainer in
Leadership, Strategic Planning and Organizational Change

Morning Star Associates
319 - 643 - 2257

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