How to Align Performance to Corporate Strategy and Goals
It used to be that performance management was managed in one
department. Today, performance management has spread throughout the
entire organization, where almost every division must focus on
performance management to some degree in order to be successful. This article the key areas for aligning performance to organizational strategy and goals
It used to be that performance management was managed in one department. Today, performance management has spread throughout the entire organization, where almost every division must focus on performance management to some degree in order to be successful. Despite this wider range of performance management, enterprise-wide performance initiatives are not widely practiced. And without an enterprise approach, it is extremely difficult to align your performance to organizational goals and objectives.
According to software vendor SAS, a recent survey of 1100 businesses revealed that performance alignment was the PRIMARY benefit companies hoped to receive from their performance management efforts. Aligning performance to your organization's goals and objectives is critical to your organization's success. On the other side, lack of alignment increases inefficiencies and risks and prevents optimal execution of the organizational strategy.
Think of this scenario as a model for linking corporate strategy to business objectives:
The executive board collaborates high-level strategic planning and identifies goals for the CEO and organization. The CEO then meets with his/her senior executives who in turn develop objectives derived from the CEOs goals and integrates those goals into the strategic plan. In turn, those executives meet with their managers who develop objectives derived from the strategic plan, and so on. Then, each subordinate goal is tied to one or more goals of their manager. Ideally, the final result is that every tracked goal in the entire company can map back to a corporate objective developed by the board.
Chances of organizational success are greatly increased by translating each high-level objective into a cascading series of focused performance measures. Using our previous example, the CEO may focus on net cash flow while the CFO looks at debt-to-equity ratio. The controller may focus on liquidity ratio, while the accounts receivable manager looks at days sales outstanding, and the accounts receivable clerk worries about percent of collections over 30/60/90 days.
This article discusses aligning corporate strategy to four key areas: departments/ divisions, workforce, finance, and systems.
Departmental Performance Alignment
Departmental performance alignment can be difficult when business processes within an organization span across multiple business units and functional support groups. To avoid bottlenecks, finger-pointing, and redundancy of work, shared performance measures that align people across organizational boundaries must be identified and responsibilities accounted for. For instance, a performance measure that includes percent of collections over 30/60/90 days might be applied both to accounts receivables clerks and sales representatives, thus sharing and integrating performance measures, encouraging collaboration and boosting overall performance.
Workforce Performance Alignment
When workforce performance is aligned with corporate objectives individuals in an organization develop a stake in that organization's performance. Employees at every level are measured by something they understand and control, and that same measure is clearly linked to the goals of their direct supervisor and the organization as a whole.
Financial Performance Alignment
In an economy where results need to be achieved fast and investor confidence is low, CFOs and finance organizations are implementing integrated performance management to improve information quality and visibility. One challenge organizations face aligning performance is finding financial measures that are meaningful to those responsible for carrying out the work. Using the previous example net cash flow is a critical performance measure for executives, but it probably means very little to the accounts receivable clerk who has no idea of how their contribution improves net cash flow performance. Stick with simple financial metrics that employees can understand and control.
System Performance Alignment
The IT/IS department's role is to provide technical support for the entire organization. While we know that this alone is a complex task, today's business model requires systems to not only support users, but to align technology to meet the business needs of the organization. Understanding business unit objectives and translating them quickly and accurately into IT priorities is essential today. So how does an organization measure how well their systems are aligned to organizational objectives? By implementing vehicles for aligning and measuring IT performance, such as service level agreements, performance-based contracts, and products and services catalogs to generate reports that illustrate how well they are measuring up to business objectives.
If you can move closer to aligning performance in these areas your organization will be well on it's way to surpassing all of it's goals and objectives. While the goal of a performance initiative is to align performance to organizational strategy, it is most important to maintain flexibility and adapt to organizational changes quickly.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Victor Holman is a performance management expert who helps organizations reach performance goals. Check out his: