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It's time for senior leaders to lead the charge in supporting their people

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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.[1] 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:

Take the test

[1] Scott Keller and Bill Schaninger, Beyond Per­for­mance 2.0: A Proven Approach to Lead­ing Large-Scale Change, Hobo­ken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2019.