How To Build High Performance Management at Your Business

You can have an exemplary product or service, a burgeoning market, and a solid business plan. But if you don’t have exceptional team members, goal-setting, and a single vision or purpose that motivates your staff, the results can fall short of expectations.

Enter the world of high performance management. This employee-first management style creates high-performance teams that allow your employees to achieve success while reaching their full potential.

It’s not a magic fix-all, and it takes some planning and initiative. But if you can master the concepts and practices of high performance management, the results will follow. Discover how this management style can transform your organization, build trust and innovation, and give your staff the tools they need to give your company a competitive advantage.

What Is High Performance Management?

Group of individuals at a leadership retreat

High performance management is a management system or model that organizations use to monitor, motivate, measure, and develop employees. It creates a work environment that centers on three basic ideas: employee performance, employee development, and employee engagement.

By applying an effective high performance management system, team members have the support they need to reach their full potential. In addition to supporting individual achievement, the system also empowers individuals to act on their own accord (within company policy), come together to reach company goals, and become more involved in the decision-making process.

Yet it’s more than just a change of management approach. It’s an overhaul of workplace culture, an emphasis on teamwork, and an investment in the emotional and mental well-being of the team.

Part of high performance management also involves aligning company goals with the objectives of employees. By creating a cohesive unit with the competencies and means to succeed, a company can transform itself into a high-performing organization.

How Is High Performance Management Different From Traditional Management?

To put the idea of high performance management into perspective, you only need to compare it to traditional management. Essentially, these are the only two management styles that are still consistently used in most organizations. However, traditional management is more popular due to high performance management’s relative infancy in the business world.

Aspects of Traditional Management

Traditional management is a top-down approach that uses an organizational hierarchy. The primary focus is activity-based with an all-encompassing emphasis on business performance metrics such as revenue, company goals, or profits. It’s more about control, procedure, and boundaries.

While traditional management seems ideal in theory, it ignores the plights and concerns of employees, as well as employee development opportunities. Due to the flow of communication, most traditional management styles also suffer from stagnant decision-making, as well as slow adaptation to change. It may also be subject to work politics, as employees and managers shy away from conflict due to fear, uncertainty, or doubt.

Facets of High Performance Management

Rather than focusing solely on a company’s success on paper, high performance management embraces the employee-manager-leader relationship more than any other aspect. It places an emphasis on employee autonomy, trust, and professional development.

Rather than business metrics, high performance management systems utilize performance metrics. This includes team goals, strategic goals, and individual goals. The idea behind these isn’t to penalize employees for not reaching them. Instead, the management team uses these metrics as growth opportunities and a way to support the team to achieve these goals.

With shared goals, employee recognition, and support systems in place, high performance management promotes trust, transparency, and communication at all levels of the organization. Leaders within these systems lead by example, exuding honesty, integrity, and positivity, creating a trickle-down effect on the rest of the organization.

5 Key Aspects of High Performance Management

Fahd teaching leadership management skills

Developing a high-performance team takes time and a shift in organizational and managerial thinking. However, the adoption of a high-performance culture is all about accepting and implementing several elements. Attention to detail is crucial in high performance management, so if you’re aiming to become a high-performance team, make sure that you include these aspects.

These elements revolve around the five pillars of performance management as outlined by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. These aspects are tried and true, so make sure to take note of them.

1. Consistent Two-Way Feedback

Feedback is a two-way road in a high performance management system. Instead of a manager doing all the talking, employees should have a forum to voice their opinions about management — albeit in a constructive way.

By having a circular motion of feedback, both sides can learn more about how to improve processes, resolve conflict, and ultimately, improve both management and employee productivity.

2. Excellent Communication

Superb communication is a must in any organization, but high performance management demands it. This is where a high performance management strategy teeters on success or failure.

Excellent written and oral communication can diminish ambiguity, provide transparency, and empower individuals. Since self-organization and autonomy are two of the predominant facets of high performance management, employees need the ability to voice their creativity through ideas, questions, and suggestions.

3. Career Development

Since the success of the high performance management process hinges on the success of the employee, the organization needs to develop employees in any way possible. Training modules, competitive pay, and education stipends are a strong start. They improve employee retention while also creating a workforce that’s loyal to your organization.

However, hard skills are only part of the equation. You still need to develop employees’ soft skills and create development opportunities that pertain directly to your organization. Mentoring is one of the best alternatives to traditional training. By interacting with mentors, your employees get applicable information that can help them on the job.

4. Setting and Tracking Goals

Every successful company has goals that enable them to push the limits of success and challenge employees to reach them. But you can’t merely set them. You need to track them at every juncture of a particular project.

Once you set goals for employees, communicate them so they’re crystal clear. Make sure they’re measurable and achievable, and dictate how you will track them. Once an employee knows what’s expected and how they’re monitored, it provides a reasonable challenge that many will entertain.

5. Performance Reviews and Recognition

Performance reviews are essential to effective performance management. During a performance review, you can use the metrics you laid out and compare an employee’s performance accordingly. Ideally, performance reviews should be heavily data driven to maintain clarity, drive productivity, and assess goal achievement. Reviews also enable managers and leaders to ask questions about how to support the employee if they’re falling short of their goals.

If an employee is routinely meeting or exceeding their goals and achieving stellar performance reviews, recognition is a must. It keeps employees engaged and motivated while also celebrating their milestones.

3 Tips To Implement High Performance Management at Your Business

Employees high-fiving

Understanding key aspects of high performance management is one thing; implementing them is another. If you’re able to include these practices in your management scheme, you’re far more likely to find success.

1. Hold Valuable Meetings

The remote workplace pushed forth the idea that team meetings need to be frequent, but that’s not necessarily the case. You just need to hold meaningful meetings in order to streamline a switch to high performance management.

One-on-one meetings give you perspective on the issues and successes of individual employees. Team meetings can help you guide project management and address any concerns. However, they should have purpose rather than become a routine formality.

2. Use Surveys

Even high performance employees may feel uneasy giving direct feedback to a manager or superior. Nevertheless, feedback is crucial to understanding the mental and emotional well-being of your employees.

That’s what makes surveys so appealing. Structured to maintain anonymity while still providing valuable information, surveys can make a world of difference in high performance teams, especially when tackling a huge project or making an organizational change.

3. Focus on the Results

In traditional management systems, employers are far more concerned with the time spent on the job. But time spent on something doesn’t necessarily translate to results. It could actually stymie motivation and productivity.

This is known as Parkinson’s Law. The law states that a task will always fit the time allotted to do it. So if you force employees to work 40 hours but assume a project will only take 30, it’s still going to take 40. There’s no motivation to go any faster.

When you allow full autonomy and focus on the results rather than the inputs or time spent, you’re on the verge of a far more successful approach to high performance management. Time doesn’t matter; the end result should be the focal point.

The Connection Between High Performance Management and Leadership

High performance management has a correlation with strong leadership. Without great leaders, the transition from traditional management to high performance management can falter quickly.

If your intention is to bring the high performance revolution full circle, leadership training programs are vital to your success. With the right tools and information you gain during these programs, you’ll have the knowledge and confidence to implement change within your company. A high performance team thrives on employee autonomy and empowerment. It only needs a leader to carry the torch.

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