For so long supporting and investing in people in the workplace has been HR and line manager territory but with a global pandemic snapping at our heel’s, times have changed. It’s time for senior leadership to lead the charge in supporting their people. McKinsey note in an article about CEO mindsets; “ask successful investors what they look for in portfolio companies, and many will tell you they’d rather put money on an average strategy in the hands of great talent than on a great strategy in the hands of average talent.” And go on to say, “The best CEOs think systematically about their people: which roles they play, what they can achieve, and how the company should operate to increase people’s impact.”
As a senior leader, what should you invest in right now to support your people? And how should you lead the charge? A business-critical place to start is with employee engagement and performance management.
Good employee engagement and performance management impacts your bottom line
The reality is that investing in employee engagement and performance management drives profitability. A study by Gallup found that “highly engaged teams show 21% greater profitability”. We recently spoke to CEO Jamie Allam, at Amthal Fire and Security about why he felt it was so vitally important to lead on investing in their employee engagement and performance management right now:
“We always say that people are the most important aspect to our business, and if we’re only communicating with those people once every 12 months, we aren’t really walking our own talk.”
Amthal adopted Clear Review in October 2019 and Jamie has seen many benefits including increased accountability across the organisation: “There is an increased level of accountability because at least every quarter, or within my team once a month, we are reviewing and checking objectives and actions and what’s happened against them. We don’t get side-tracked, and we are actually holding each other accountable — that goes for me as well — on the things that we say we’ll do, implement and what our focuses are.”
Good performance management offers greater clarity and direction for employees too. Jamie believes that unless everybody knows where they stand they cannot progress or be as productive: “We have to work hard to keep training people in how to use it effectively but I like to feel that I should be able to look at any team member in Clear Review and see a clear set of objectives for that individual. If it’s clear to me, then its clear for that individual as well and I can see how that person is progressing from both a technical and personal point of view.”
Senior leaders need to role model – it can’t just be HR
Research by McKinsey found that “CEOs who insist on rigorously measuring and managing all cultural elements that drive performance more than double the odds that their strategies will be executed. And over the long term, they deliver triple the total return to shareholders that other companies deliver. Doing this well involves thoughtful approaches to role modelling, storytelling, aligning of formal reinforcements (such as incentives), and investing in skill building.”
Jamie attributes role modelling from him to the successful changes Amthal have made to their employee engagement and performance management, starting off with Jamie requesting feedback:
“I went out to everybody and said I love that we are all giving each other feedback, and that I have received feedback but very little of that has been constructive, I’m pretty sure that’s not because I am perfect, but it’s that you’re not being honest with me, so can everyone give me some constructive feedback? That was enlightening for me because I actually asked them and almost gave them permission and everybody gave me some constructive feedback which was good.”
Everybody wins with good employee engagement and performance management
Right now, more than ever as we go through this turbulent time, it’s vital to be supporting and investing in performance management and employee engagement. It creates greater clarity, removes ambiguity, helps you assess who your high performers are and ultimately creates a motivated and engaged workforce who can drive profitability and productivity — everybody wins!
Jamie at Amthal believes; “If you’re not working on trying to engage and motivate your team then your team won’t be as productive. They’ll do what’s required of them but nothing more. It’s really about trying to have a highly engaged team so that we can deliver our commitment to our customers but also more importantly to continue to grow our business.”
Where do I begin?
As a senior leader if you’re wondering how to tackle performance management and employee engagement right now, especially as we navigate the new normal, start off by taking our business “Readiness Check” and work through our action plan:
 Scott Keller and Bill Schaninger, Beyond Performance 2.0: A Proven Approach to Leading Large-Scale Change, Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2019.