Performance Practice Introduction: Management

Introduction: Management

Performance Practice Learning Module

Are your management practices disciplined, people-focused, and supportive of high performance?

Recruiting, developing, and retaining the right talent in the right roles is key to high-quality, cost-effective programming and good results.

This learning module is one of seven Performance Practice modules that help you and your team reflect on how your organization’s behaviors and practices align with the principles of high performance. Review the questions below—and share them with your colleagues—for an introduction to the principles and practices of disciplined, people-focused management.

What can you learn about management by discussing these topics?

Do your managers translate leaders’ drive for excellence into clear workplans and incentives to carry out the work effectively and efficiently?

  • Do your organization’s managers partner with staff to develop individual performance objectives that support your organizational goals?
  • Do your organization’s managers regularly recognize and reward (in financial and non-financial ways) outstanding performance by team members?

Are your managers’ decisions data informed whenever possible?

  • Do your organization’s managers regularly use qualitative and quantitative data to inform operational, programmatic, and strategic decisions—rather than relying on intuition alone?

Do your managers, like executives and boards, have the ability to recruit, develop, engage, and retain the talent necessary to deliver on the mission? Do they help staff get the tools and training they need to deliver the desired results?

  • Are your organization’s managers always on the lookout, inside and outside the organization, for great talent—to “get the right people on the bus and in the right seats”?
  • Do your organization’s managers allocate sufficient resources to recruit, develop, reward, and retain high-performing individuals who are committed to your mission and your culture?
  • Does your organization continually assess its talent pool, identifying individuals who are strong contributors and creating opportunities to develop their potential?

Do your managers provide opportunities for staff to see themselves in the work—that is, to see how each person’s work contributes to the desired results?

  • Do your organization’s managers engage in ongoing dialogue with staff members to ensure they understand how their individual roles contribute to the results the organization is trying to achieve?

Do your managers establish accountability systems that provide clarity at each level of the organization about the standards for success and yet provide room for staff to be creative about how they achieve these standards?

  • Do your organization’s managers communicate your standards of excellence by clearly defining what team members are accountable for and how and when their success will be assessed?
  • Can your organization point to examples in which managers have incorporated staff ideas to fuel innovation, risk-taking, and better results?

Do your managers provide continuous feedback to team members and augment that ongoing feedback with periodic performance reviews? Do they view performance reviews as an opportunity for staff development and coaching?

  • Do your organization’s managers observe team members in action and provide ongoing, on-the-job, constructive, timely coaching?
  • Do your organization’s managers regularly conduct performance reviews with all staff and mutually define strengths to build on, areas to improve, and areas for learning and development?
  • Do your organization’s managers establish effective professional-development plans tied to each individual’s career goals and the organization’s needs?

Do your managers acknowledge when staff members aren’t doing their work well? Do they give these staffers help to improve or move them to more suitable roles? If it becomes clear that staff members are unable or unwilling to meet expectations, are managers unafraid to make tough personnel decisions so that the organization can live up to the promises it makes to beneficiaries, donors, and other key stakeholders?

  • Do your organization’s managers have the latitude and fortitude to make difficult personnel decisions when a team member’s performance is undermining your ability to meet the needs of your beneficiaries? This includes re-assignment, additional development, or separation in accordance with your policies.
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