I thought this brief article in Training Magazine offered 5 interesting topics for any L&D group thinking about how they want to approach their group’s advancement in 2013. Here’s the link http://trainingmag.com/content/top-5-steps-ld-2013.
Posts Tagged ‘Alignment’
My last two posts have been about managing performance through The Accountability Principle. It would be helpful - but not absolutely necessary - to read them before this post: Accountability - The Key to Performance Management posted April 29th and The Accountability Principle and Engagement posted April 30th.The antithesis of The Accountability Principle is The No-Nonsense School of Accountability. No-Nonsenseers have advocated performance management as it has been practiced at least since the 1960s. Managers give clear expectations up front, a thorough performance appraisal at the end, and regular feedback, maybe even some coaching, in between. If someone’s really off track, managers confront that right away. For top performers, there are rewards and recognition along the way. For poor performers, there is progressive discipline. For the rest, well, they have their pay checks and get to keep their jobs. What could be clearer and fairer and more motivating? The reality is that performance management is a fiction for the vast majority of people in the vast majority of businesses.
The beginning of the process - clear expectations or objectives and measures - often never happens except in general terms. When it does, it is seldom sustained because it is too difficult and time consuming to resolve all the questions that more systematic approaches call for:
Are these the right things to do to make the strategy successful? What’s actually being measured? Is that the right thing to measure? How accurate are the measures? How timely are the measures? Is the goal even achievable? What if unexpected forces make the goal either too easy or unattainable? What about all the things people do that are not measured but are critical to keeping everything running, how are these accounted for?
The middle of the process - performance feedback, and maybe coaching - seldom gets done because of the complexities of the business and the environment in which it operates.
Ambiguity delays judgment. Communication struggles with interpretation, completeness, and timeliness. Collaboration falters under the pressure of adversarial motives and contending views. New knowledge emerges that changes the playing field. Priorities change frequently and occasionally radically. Resources are reduced or diverted to meet new objectives. The measures chosen turn out not to achieve the real goal. Important aspects of the business are neglected to the detriment of the business in order to “make the numbers”.
The one piece of the process that eventually does get done is the performance review. But, this is usually viewed by both parties as an administrative requirement. There is very little accountability in this annual event because the beginning and middle parts of the process either have never happened or were pro forma or occasional at best.
Often expectations or objectives are written down for the first time when the performance review is due, and the past year is recollected from whatever reports or memory is available. Some organizations have feedback collected from people affected by an individual’s performance. But the biases of memory and the power of emotion and personal perspective make useful, accurate evaluation rare. Managers regularly pick the “rating” they “feel” is right and write the narrative to support the rating. In any case, the best that this process produces is a point-in-time judgement that usually has some marginal effect on the expected rewards.
The reality of managing a business is that there are no clear beginnings or endings. We estimate various measures and the forces that will impact them; but none of this is science, and all of it is affected by new knowledge that regularly is discovered about the past, present, and future. Priorities change, resources are redirected. We arbitrarily evaluate results quarterly and annually. But the goals we project, the measures we set, and the data we collect are very often not in one-to-one alignment and have only an approximate relationship to one another. While goals are essential to frame expectations, develop plans, and calibrate the actions we need to take, few, if any, bear a readily assessable relationship to the clear meting out of rewards and punishments the No-Nonsense School of accountability advocates as the driver of performance.
No-Nonsense performance management is a relic of industrial organization and a command-and-control system of management. No-Nonsense performance management should be replaced by The Accountability Principle.
Accountability is a very weighty and quite personal concept. It is burdensome and liberating at the same time. The accounting it calls for is a first person accounting, not a disinterested bystander’s report. Accountability obliges the person in charge to tell her own story. And in the telling, she is expected to know clearly what she is trying to accomplish and why that’s important in the larger scheme of things. Starting with the results her actions have produced so far, she is expected to go deeper and give her analysis of what accounts for those results: what forces are at play and what she has done to manage those forces; where there are shortfalls or overruns and what she’s done to overcome their causes. She is expected to demonstrate that she is monitoring and evaluating what is going on all along the way: exercising judgment, seeking counsel, soliciting help and making adjustments to overcome unforeseen obstacles and to compensate for unintended consequences.
Interestingly, the rewards and losses associated with being an accountable person are many; and they are experienced every day, not just at the end of a project, or a quarter, or a year. That final payoff or loss is critically important because it affects a person’s possibilities - his future and his broader life beyond this job. It affects both reputation and wealth and, therefore, expands or contracts the horizons of his life - the things he can do and the interests he can explore. But, accountability is also an intensely emotional thing. A person experiences accountability as an energy welled up within him. He feels the pressure of that point in time when he’ll have to tell the story of what he’s done. He wants the story to be a good one, the story of a hero overcoming daunting forces. His awareness expands to take in everything affecting his goals and becomes keenly alert to threats and opportunities, with a hunger for all sorts of situational information. He feels concerned about other people: do they know their responsibilities and are they all doing their parts. He feels concerned for other people: how are they feeling about what they’re doing and how are they holding up when the pressure is on. He feels worried about resources: are there enough and are they being used well. His mind is a flow of checklist questions. Have all the right communications been made? Are all the parts of the job getting done? Are the customers satisfied? Will we meet our objectives? The accountable person experiences the emotional rewards and losses that are evoked by the multitude of step-by-step successes and failures as he carries out his mission. In fact, this is a major reason why the accountable person seeks out accountable jobs - to experience himself handling all of the challenges presented by the quest for some specific measure of success, important to himself and others. This experience of handling a myriad of challenges - sometimes not so successfully, but then recovering and learning for the next time - is as important to a person’s internal possibilities as the final financial and reputational rewards are to his external possibilities. It is in the day-to-day tests that a person comes to know his own internal horizons - his current and expanding capabilities.
So, accountability is a simple yet exceedingly powerful concept when used systematically throughout a business.
- It becomes the motive for people to achieve and maintain a big picture view - what are we trying to accomplish and how do all the parts fit together to make that happen.
- It becomes the motive for measurement of progress and results - how can you evaluate the situation without measures?
- It becomes the motive to develop and implement constructive changes in order to tell a story of success.
- It funnels all of the wisdom in the business to the transaction level as each person is in turn accountable to another.
- It becomes the network of conversations that drive the ongoing modification of strategy and redesign of processes to better pursue the overarching objective.
What do we mean by “accountability?” Today, when you hear people talk about accountability, you know that they’re talking about who’s going to pay the price of failure. They say, “I’m holding you accountable”; or “You better make sure someone’s accountable”; or “Make them accountable by tying those results to their incentive compensation.”
“Holding people accountable” has a hard-nosed, no-nonsense tone that lets people know that a real executive is in the room. It projects strength and a willingness to take action. It asserts that a clear threat of dire consequences is what will get people focused and performing. It calls for bottom-line measures and makes it clear that there will be no excuses for not achieving them. After all, what would accountability mean if people could avoid paying the price of poor performance by explaining it away?
This is, however, not the way accountability gets results. In the day-to-day activities of business, where all the work gets done, “hold them accountable” is useless as a management practice. It offers no guidance on how to use accountability to build a successful path from point A to point B. It just prescribes what to do with rewards and punishments when the clock runs out. It offers no process for reconciling competing objectives, for making sure bad decisions are not made just to make “the numbers” look good. It makes no provision for adapting to changing business conditions, taking advantage of opportunities, or responding to unforeseen threats. “Hold them accountable” hopes that fear of loss will make people perform. But “hope is not a method” (Gordon R. Sullivan and Michael V. Harper, Hope is Not a Method (New York: Broadway Books, 1997). The Accountability Principle is!
The Accountability Principle
“For any job, no matter how simple or complex, effectiveness will be proportional to the ability of people doing that job to explain what they are seeking to achieve, why that’s important to the business, how well they are doing and what’s causing their current level of accomplishment, and what needs to be different to fully achieve their purpose.”
Accountability fuels the engine of performance. It puts a fine edge on execution. It replaces the administrative rituals of performance management with engagement in the business and commitment to results. It fills the void of performance-focused communication with precise and continuing conversations about accomplishments and opportunities as well as about shortfalls and what needs to be done to overcome them. Accountability puts talent in the spotlight and exposes and corrects talent gaps early on.
The practice of “accountability” means that every person - either as an individual contributor or as a manager - is expected to “provide a periodic accounting” to someone - team leader, manager, board of directors, owner - about the results of what she is doing. The key questions to account for are:
- Are the business activities for which she is responsible achieving planned results or not?
- If they are, then what is driving that success and what needs to be done to sustain performance? Are there opportunities emerging and how can we take advantage of them?
- If they are not, then what are the root causes of the shortfall and what is she doing to remedy them? Are there threats emerging and how can we defend against them?
This use of The Accountability Principle moves the moment of truth way forward. By asking people to be accountable first for a well constructed plan and then regularly for accomplishing planned activities and producing planned results. The Accountability Principle improves the quality of business thinking and sharpens the focus on results from everybody beginning day one. Accountability establishes a regular dialogue so the person to whom the accounting is provided should be expected to
- ask questions to see if something has been overlooked
- provide information that will help solve a problem
- share a perspective that will shape more accurate thinking about a situation
- give encouragement where courage is needed
- stop a direction that will impede success
- obtain needed resources
- secure the support of others
Simply put, accountability is about two things: collaboration and engagement. Your thoughts?
More about this tomorrow.
Tom Hilgart and Shirley Kitzmann have had the unique opportunity of working alongside some of the most esteemed executives in the nation.
Here’s what a few of them have to say:
“Tom is the smartest learning executive I have had the pleasure to work with. He is scrupulously honest and fair, and equally capable of devising innovative learning solutions, charting the political waters to get them funded, and carefully managing the process to ensure they are implemented.”
–Bill Bruck, Principal, Q2Learning, LLC (was a consultant or contractor to Tom at State Parkway Partners) January 31, 2008
“Tom is a recognized thought leader in the learning and talent management arena. He combines strategic vision, leadership skills, and deep business acumen to deliver world-class talent development and management solutions that drive results. His integrity, humor and intellect make him easy to work with and fun to be around. I recommended him highly in any capacity and would work with him again without question, reservation or hesitation.”
–Brian Richardson, PMP, President, Richardson Consulting Group (reported to Tom at State Parkway Partners) January 28, 2008
“Tom is an outstanding leader and business professional. He possesses a rich knowledge of the learning and development industry, the insurance industry and general business.”
–Jay Kostrzewa, Assistant Vice President - Knowledge and Learning Group, CNA Financial (reported to Tom at CNA) VP, Knowledge & Learning Group CNA, May 25, 2007
“Tom is one of the most highly respected senior executives I have worked with in the learning industry. He is creative, experienced, and knows how to combine the strategic with the tactical.”
–Kent Barnett, Owner, KnowledgeAdvisors, Inc. (was with another company when working with Tom at CNA) February 4, 2008
“I’ve worked with Tom Hilgart for many years and his vast knowledge of learning and development and human capital is among the best I know. His creative insights and years of experience would be a tremendous asset to any organization. Further, Tom is an honest and ethical business person. He is fair and objective. His character is second to none.”
–Jeffrey Berk, Chief Operating Officer, KnowledgeAdvisors_(was with another company when working with Tom at CNA) February 2, 2008
“Tom is a forward thinking executive with a fluent understanding of the learning and development and talent management needs of his organization. As a provider of Project Management services to CNA insurance Tom was instrumental in helping us to align our solutions with CNA’s larger corporate business strategies. As the organizations business strategy and needs shifted Tom and his staff were there to make sure that we remained in alignment with the organizations evolving needs.”
–John Scuras, Midwest Regional Sales Manager, PCI Global_(was a consultant or contractor to Tom at CNA) January 28, 2008
Partner, State Parkway Partners
Tom Hilgart offers 35 years of business leadership experience as a line manager delivering operational improvement in insurance operations, as an internal consultant in process innovation and quality management, and as a nationally recognized leader in corporate learning and development.From 2000 through 2007, Tom served as Vice President of the Knowledge & Learning Group at CNA.CNA was recognized in 2004 by Corporate Executive Board research as a benchmark company for its approach to aligning learning investments to business strategy.In 2005, CNA was acknowledged by Bersin & Associates research as a best practice company both for its alignment of learning investments to business strategy and for the effectiveness of its balanced centralized/decentralized governance structure.Prior to that Tom was
- an internal consultant in quality management, benchmarking, and process redesign
- director of management development
- director of insurance operations
Tom earned a BA in philosophy from St. Mary of the Lake in Mundelein IL and completed extensive graduate studies in philosophy, education, and social sciences at Loyola University and Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago, IL.
Partner, State Parkway Partners
Shirley Kitzmann offers a wealth of business acumen resulting from over 25 years of extensive consulting, human resources, communications, and operations management experience for entrepreneurial, professional services, mid-sized and Fortune 500 companies.In her work as a management consultant and Human Resources executive, Ms. Kitzmann has helped organizations achieve their strategic objectives by focusing on human resources processes, investments in support of organization development, and culture change. She is skilled in designing and implementing total rewards programs, organizational and job design, organizational effectiveness processes, performance management, learning and development strategies and programs, succession planning processes, and communication strategies.Ms. Kitzmann has lectured for Loyola University’s (Chicago) Human Resources and Industrial Relations Institute’s graduate program, and has served as an Adjunct Professor for Washington University’s (St. Louis) Human Resources graduate program. She earned a BA from the University of Wisconsin Green Bay, and an MBA from the University of Minnesota.
Manage Learning Strategically
We will show you how to move away from a demand-driven service and how to become a value-driven strategic partner. We will guide you as you build your:
- Annual Learning Plan and budget in a way that is aligned to business strategies and managed as a portfolio of prioritized investments.
- Measurement Plan aligned to the human capital performance objectives required by your business strategies and operating plans.
- L&D Strategy Assessment and Roadmap: your organization structure and staff roles; decisions about selective insourcing and outsourcing of roles; learning technologies and vendor selection; learning design methods for different delivery media; and your use of performance support.
Managing Performance Strategically
For decades, the major emphases in performance management have been performance objectives and performance assessment. Important as these are, they only become strategically important when they are integrated into a coaching culture, development opportunities, recognition, and rewards that increase workforce competencies, engagement, and retention. We will help you build your:
- Annual Talent Engagement and retention Plan focused on developing a “talent as an asset” mindset in your leaders at all levels and managing their adoption of practices which evidence that mindset.
- Measurement plan focused on increased competency in the workforce, on selected measures of engagement, commitment, and retention, and on the adoption of “talent as a mindset” practices.
- Assessment of and Roadmap for your “people leadership” capabilities.
Managing Talent Strategically
Strategic talent management is about taking a systemic view of your business strategies, identifying the key roles in those strategies, and ensuring that you will have enough of the right people with the right competencies to make the business successful year after year. We will help you build your:
- Annual Integrated Workforce Plan in which you take a holistic view of the entire talent management process for each line of business and identify near term and longer term initiatives. Within the context of business strategies, your planning process will address workforce planning, talent acquisition, on-boarding, learning and development, performance management, and rewards and recognition. The result will be a coordinated, comprehensive plan.
- Succession Planning Process to address leadership roles, pivotal positions, and key positions challenged by competitive and demographic forces.
- Assessment of and Roadmap for your talent management capabilities including core issues such as data integration, process coordination, and technology support.
Using our Strategic Investment Portfolio methodology, we help you create and manage your own portfolio of human capital investments balanced to meet your short and long-term, operational and strategic human competency needs.
Any investment in human capital needs to meet three tests: alignment, confidence, and accountability.
- How precisely aligned is the investment to business strategy?
- How precisely aligned is the investment to operating performance?
- How important is the investment relative to others competing for resources?
- How clear and direct is the link from the investment to the value it is expected to produce?
- How do we know that the investment is properly targeted and robust enough to meet the requirements for success?
- How solid is the proposed solution design?
- How reliable and efficient is the solution development plan?
- How realistic, effective, and efficient is the deployment plan?
- How and when will we know that the initiative is or is not meeting its objectives?
- Has the solution been effectively deployed?
- Has competency increased?
- Has process performance risen to target?
- Are strategic objectives being met?
State Parkway Partners is skilled in partnering with you to develop alignment, confidence, and accountability in your management of human capital investments.
When deciding on investments in human capital, business leaders need a direct line of sight from: (a) the strategy or operation being impacted; to (b) the business process being improved; to the culture and/or competencies being strengthened; to the human capital solution being proposed. If the alignment is unclear or if you lhave doubts about the adequacy or execution of the solution or if no one is clearly accountable for achieving and reporting results - and not just for implementing the solution - then that is not yet a sound investment.
State Parkway Partners can help you implement systematic methods for creating alignment, confidence, and accountability in your management of human capital investments.
- Investments include all aspects of the human capital value chain: recruiting, on-boarding, directing, learning, developing, coaching, assessing, retaining, promoting, etc.
- Competencies include knowledge, skill, traits, attributes, and motivations.
- Process performance includes all relevant process measures such as quality, productivity, time to competency, cycle time, customer satisfaction, revenue, expense, etc.
State Parkway Partners shows businesses how to manage their investments in human capital as rigorously as they manage other investments. We show you how to align your investments in people with your business strategies and operating objectives ensuring that you have the right people with the right competencies in the right roles to be successful now and in the future.
We employ a unique perspective and methodology for developing a prioritized portfolio of investments in human capital. We balance strategic and operational requirements as well as short and long term requirements. Our approach ensures that each investment is aligned with overall strategies, executed with confidence, and managed with accountability for results.
We show our clients how to manage their human capital investment portfolios in three areas:
Strategic Learning Management - Read more…
The Accenture January 2007 High Performance Workforce Study reported that of the 250 senior executives surveyed from the United States, Europe, and Australia only 14% saw their organizations’ workforce skills as industry leading, and only 20% said that most of their employees understood their companies’ strategy and what was needed to be successful.
Strategic Talent Management - Read more…
The Business Week European 50 Research Survey 2006 reported that executives surveyed identified human capital as the most important factor for maintaining high performance in the long term by a factor of nearly two to one. The combination of globalization and technology has increasingly fueled the war for talent.
Strategic Performance Management - Read more…
Bersin & Associates 2008 research report High Impact Talent Management reported that 32% of managers do not clearly understand the role between pay and performance in their organizations, 85% of organizations do not have clearly defined competencies which define success, only 21% of organizations have training tied to development goals, only 29% of organizations create goals which are aligned to the organization, and only 13% of organizations have coaching programs tied to thir performance management process.