When leaders are making performance-based decisions regarding their organizational units, the decisions are typically based upon individual performance of the leaders, managers and employees under their direction.
Although performance can be documented in tangible and measurable terms, it invariably points to the performance or lack thereof of the individual(s) accountable for specific results. However, because decisions concerning these individuals are never made in a void, a number of more subjective factors must be considered.
This is important for leaders to appreciate because the performance evaluation program in an empowered organization incorporates all pertinent factors and contexts in order to yield more informed decisions regarding individual and corporate performance.
Since performance decisions revolve around the individual employees within an organization, the following less tangible factors need consideration. Often leaders are subconsciously aware of these aspects when making decisions, but they require more deliberate and formal weighing.
However, where possible even subjective factors should be linked to something tangible. In some cases overall employee performance and behaviors can be benchmarked, giving leaders a tangible backdrop against which to evaluate an employee when a decision is needed.
Certain employees will cooperate to the extent they are compelled to do so, while others will cooperate and offer their services beyond what is expected. In a union environment, some employees will hide behind negotiated rules to mask their lack of willingness to cooperate.
Undoubtedly when performance decisions must be made concerning individual employees, the level of cooperation among them becomes an important factor to consider. Within the empowered organization, cooperation tends to increase as more decisions are driven down to frontline employees.
As companies face continual change and evolve into empowered organizations, individual employees may become fearful or resistant to adjustments being made. With little other choice they may accept them, but not be enthusiastic. Leaders should watch for these tendencies as they can produce a drag on individual performance and even spread to others, further affecting motivation and morale.
Personal levels of cooperation and enthusiasm are indicators of the individual employee’s motivation. As a leader transitions his or her employees into a cohesive organizational unit, employee motivation should shift from, “What’s in it for me?” thinking to a more group-oriented outlook.
As organizations transition from the traditional centralized and polarized bureaucracy to an empowered organization, employees also undergo a transition. Some will undoubtedly progress faster than others, but there comes a time when all should be motivated at least more by the group than the self. Thus an employee’s perspective must be considered in making performance decisions. If one or more employees have problems in this area, the leader must address them lest they fester and impact the progress of the organization.
Feedback and Insight
Employees that have worked in a job for a long period of time develop what is known as “native knowledge.” As this is developed, these employees begin to know all the “tricks of the trade” enabling them to be more efficient in their jobs. This is the information that leaders must tap into and share with the rest of their employees.
However, many longtime employees are reluctant to share this information since it provides them with “insurance” and a sense of job security. They are fearful that once they have shared this information, lower-paid employees may replace them.
As leaders evaluate their organizational performance, the feedback and insights shared by individual employees must be considered. Leaders should know the level of contribution an employee is capable of providing through daily interaction with them. They should be aware of those employees who are sharing their expertise and those who are not, and this is then factored into decisions made regarding performance.
The role of the leader is to lead and form the employees under them into a team focused on mutual goals and objectives. The more cohesive the organizational unit, the more productive and efficient it becomes. Thus as decisions are made about performance, the level of teamwork becomes an increasingly important consideration.
As decisions are made over time, the levels of teamwork should rise accordingly. Undoubtedly, if problems are identified with one or more employees, factors of cooperation, enthusiasm, motivation and performance also become issues with these employees. All of these factors are interlinked when making decisions regarding performance.
As all evaluative decision making factors are interlinked, deficiencies in one or more of these areas will contribute to personal performance problems. Conversely, strong indications in all of these decision making categories will contribute to enhanced performance.
Most performance decisions are based upon end results alone. However, when the sum total of these factors is evaluated, the problems behind the lack of performance are highlighted, making the leader’s decisions more meaningful.
When the root causes behind a problem are identified, it is easy for leaders to take the specific actions required to solve the problem.
The final factor that must be considered in making performance decisions is the impact of uncontrollable events upon individual performance. Obviously factors of global competition, economic downturns and situations such as a shipping strike, internal production issues, and even weather can impact individual results. These realities and circumstances must be given appropriate consideration in making equitable performance decisions.
Excerpt: Strengthening Leadership Performance (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011)