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3 Leadership Opportunities to Improve Organizational Performance

by Michael Stanleigh

Many organizations struggle to meet the challenges of optimizing performance. How should they measure performance? What should they measure? And how can leaders ensure that communication channels throughout the organization are open?   Too often, organizations will put in place measurement systems and structures that deliver the opposite of what they expected.   Here are 3 opportunities for leaders to improve organizational and/or departmental performance:

1.  Simplify your performance measures
There is a common saying in business, “What gets measured gets done.” Organizations that successfully manage their performance measures achieve superior results. That being said, less is more when it comes to Performance Management.   Organizations that overcomplicate their performance measures and performance appraisals tend not to achieve their goals. You don’t have to measure everything; keep to the essentials and keep in mind that measures must be defined for each level of performance accountability.

For example, a CEO and the executive leadership team may be ultimately accountable for a strategic measure like “customer satisfaction index,” while an operations manager and his or her team of field supervisors can only be held accountable for a customer satisfaction rating from the feedback of the customers they service and the processes they manage. What ultimately defines success for the top level index will be the collection of data from staff engaged in customer interaction at each level of accountability. The activities and methodology required to systematically define, deploy and link measures throughout an entire organization need to be well timed and carefully orchestrated. Senior executives, managers at all levels, technology support and front-line employees are all involved.
2.  Measure the RIGHT things
When it comes to measuring, performance outcomes are more important measures of work than output. Outcomes are benefits or changes that result from the work being performed. Put simply, it is work performed that makes a difference to the organization and is in keeping with achieving strategic organizational and/or departmental objectives. A way to ensure that performance measurement is measuring the RIGHT things is for management to create a “desired results/outcomes” mission statement and then engage staff in determining how efforts match up against these objectives. These should be included in the performance evaluation and performance review.
3.  Eliminate "siloed" thinking
While dividing organizations into departments may have some advantages, it can also be highly divisive and can prevent organizations from realizing performance synergies and collaboration. This is evident when directors, departments, managers, teams or staff may be high performers individually, but fail to choreograph their activities to create peak performance for the organization. This symptom is so widespread that it is often accepted as an inevitable problem within all organizations. Except that it is not inevitable. Some pervasive drivers of siloed thinking are competition among functional and structural groups over resources such as money, budget, credit, equipment and workforce.

To reduce the impact of “siloed thinking” it is important to allow data and information to flow across the organization and reduce competition for resources through prioritization of initiatives in accordance with the organization’s strategic direction and planning. But when cross-functional problems occur, it is important to make efforts to successfully tackle them though collaborative problem solving. Put simply, nothing drives people back into their silos more quickly and effectively than unresolved problems, and conversely, nothing brings people out of their silos more quickly and effectively than tackling problems together.

Conclusion
Organizations, concerned with maintaining and increasing their profits, shareholder value, customer satisfaction rates and employee morale often unknowingly place, impediments in front of employees, which make these goals more difficult. There is an opportunity for leaders to understand these basic challenges so that they can overcome them and realize the opportunities they’ll deliver. There are certainly other opportunities for leaders but we wanted to present you with some clear, concise yet highly impact opportunities that you can implement immediately.
About the Author

As CEO of Business Improvement Architects (www.bia.ca ), Michael works with executives and senior managers around the world to help them improve operational effectiveness through strategic planning, leadership development, innovation, project management and quality management. He has been instrumental in helping his clients reduce waste and increase efficiencies and profits with his clear processes and quality approach.    You may reach him at mstanleigh@bia.ca.

For more information about this article, please contact bia™ at info@bia.ca.
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