Is your business going nowhere fast?

June 2010 by Bud Haney, Profiles International www.profilesinternational.com.au

best in class businesses use business tools to continually improve performance, consistency and reliability ot outcomes

Disclosure: BIR Solutions uses the Profiles range of assessment products for its clients.

Summary:

Research shows ‘best in class’ businesses have this in common:

  • They use assessments with more employees than do other organisations.
  • They use assessments more frequently than do other organisations.
  • They use assessments more consistently than do other organisations.
  • The numbers show that assessments succeed because workers who have bought into performance expectations, as well as their company’s plans for development, have a strong connection to their companies. Simply put, they are engaged.

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    A popular country song title, “Going Nowhere and Getting There Fast,” fits well the philosophy of some organisations. They have an idea of what they want, and maybe a notion about how to achieve their goal. But they set forth on the journey without a plan and little knowledge about what works and what does not.

    Sometimes this practice-also known as flying by the seat of your pants-works. For a brief period, the organisation might soar with the eagles. More often, it never gets high enough to see anything but tail feathers before coming to a humiliating halt.

    With so much knowledge in the workplace about the best way to get somewhere, why does anyone want to fly by the seat of his pants? Yes, sustained success takes hard work and is not for sissies, but it provides long-term gratification. Unlike getting nowhere fast, which provides short-term excitement but little else.

    Aberdeen Group, which provides organisations with facts that make a difference, has studied top organisations and their practices. Its researchers have discovered that, no matter the type of organisation, the best ones have these things in common:

    • They use assessments with more employees than do other organisations.
    • They use assessments more frequently than do other organisations.
    • They use assessments more consistently than do other organisations.

    Aberdeen calls these organisations Best in Class, and discovered that they are more than three times likely to have a clear process of assessing new employees during their first year than do “Laggards”-Aberdeen’s name for organisations that trail behind the best in important measures of how the organisation is doing. Also, Best in Class companies are twice as likely to assess workers who have stayed with a company longer than a year.

    The numbers show that assessments succeed because workers who have bought into performance expectations, as well as their company’s plans for development, have a strong connection to their companies. Simply put, they are engaged.

    Let’s look at each of the three uses of assessments listed above to determine what each means.

    Using assessments with more employees.

    Some organisations start out slowly with assessments. They might use them only with executives, for example. Perhaps they are trying to develop a succession plan, or build a team for a project. They may use them only when recruiting and hiring new workers. They may use them only when they have a problem they want to solve.

    Research shows that best-in-class companies use assessments with all employees. The march toward progress and growth begins with a single step, but this broad use of assessments gives every worker the message that all roles are important and every worker must meet a standard. This is an important message in an economy when more productivity is required from each person.

    Using assessments more frequently.

    Every worker everywhere likely recognises the performance evaluation model. These glancing blows at how an employee is performing occur maybe once a year-if a worker is lucky-and often make both the manager and the employee uncomfortable. Better than nothing, yes. But they could be so much better! Instead of annual performance reviews, think of coaching sessions that occur daily, weekly or monthly, depending on the team member’s needs.

    Why not use an assessment to help determine which workers are the right ones for a team, depending on their needs and competencies? That is a way of using reviews in a positive way, to choose the right employee for the role, instead of a negative way. Or how about using assessments for retraining workers when changes in the organisations occur? Best-in-class organisations fill in the blanks, using assessments when they need them. This is a key element of training a workforce to be first-class.

    Using assessments consistently.

    When people say they don’t like surprises, they generally mean that they don’t like unpleasant surprises-like those that inconsistency brings. Such surprises include not telling workers how they are evaluated and chosen for leadership roles, what has to happen before their salaries increase, or not informing employees how they can be players on an important team.

    Employees need to know how things are done at their workplaces so they can play a part in exciting company changes, perhaps even volunteering for positions that no one else wants, or seeking retraining if necessary.

    Workers will buy into the way their employer does things if they get the chance to grow at their jobs and become the leaders. Responsible executives can avoid springing unpleasant surprises by being even-handed, and assessments help by providing objective guidance throughout the employee life cycle.

    Organisations often need to move fast, but just as important is knowing the goal and having a clear idea of how to achieve it. Best in class operators are unfased when they have to stop along the way to make adjustments in the pace. They know exactly what is working right and what requires repair and maintenance.

    Best in class organisations have a schedule for getting to their destination, and usually arrive right on time.

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