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Doing More Than the Numbers - How You Do Them is Important

Aug 17, 2007
We recently heard someone authoritatively state that performance reviews were unnecessary if suitable numbers were in place. They were referring to a sales process that was, in itself, very logical, measurable, and had been proven to be effective.
But what of the people who interact with those in the sales function who help make it effective?

This is the danger of looking at one part of the business in isolation. People and processes interact with others across the business and an effective business should be a series of integrated processes.

One only has to think of those employees we have worked with at some time who make life difficult for themselves, colleagues and others by the way they behave and the way they represent the organization.

Many of these people do the job. That is, they get the numbers, but can be very disruptive while they do it. They may be selfish when they should be team players; they may be disorganized when they are part of a process that involves others; they may get their numbers but are a nuisance; they may have a high turnover of staff that report to them and cause friction and extra work for those they report to.

Performance is more than just getting the numbers. Someone once said "we often hire people for what they can do but fire them for how they do it."

How can we put in place measures that define behaviour as effectively as the numbers define other activities?

The first step is to identify what values or culture you want in the business. At Horizon we call these core competencies (one of our clients calls them attributes) and they are really the values of a business in practice.

They tend to differ between organizations but some common ones may be teamwork, integrity, professionalism, or flexibility. How these are defined also differ between businesses. Then comes the part that really matters; defining the behaviours that can be observed, ie measured.

A typical behaviour of some who demonstrates teamwork may be: Offers help to other team members and provides willing and enthusiastic assistance when required. For flexibility it may be: Can handle changes to priorities in a constructive way without complaining. One behaviour that may show integrity is: Deals with clients openly by telling them what cannot be done as well as what can be.

We have found that between six and nine competencies provides an excellent profile of the culture of a business and each of these may have two to six behaviours which really define the preferred way people should conduct themselves.

Once these behaviours are established they should be communicated to all employees. An understanding by employees of what behaviour is desired in an organization is a logical starting point and most people will embrace it as a very positive move.

Integration of the competencies and behaviours into the performance management system allows it to be applied consistently to all people and provide further encouragement and development.

With the preferred behaviours identified, recruitment can be focused on finding people who can not only do the job but who can fit in with values of the business. Asking questions that seek evidence of these behaviours in previous situations is a very effective way of identifying people who are more likely to fit with the culture you are trying to develop or sustain.

While the numbers are important, having measures for how people are to achieve their targets completes the circuit and provides a model for ongoing development and business growth. It can also be a valuable tool in attracting and retaining key staff: a topic dear to the heart of many businesses in the current climate.
About the Author
Paul Phillips is a Director of Horizon Management Group; a specialist human resource management consulting firm. He has over 30 years experience in HR and, while based in Australia, has worked in a number of overseas locations. www.horizonmg.com
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