My discussions with senior leaders and executives often gravitate towards the best way to determine if someone is going to be successful. People in senior roles, and those in just mid-level performance roles are often assessed by their managers on a range of issues. These deliverables may be formalised as key performance indicators, but this is not always the case. Managers may also prioritise softer, social skills and the way in which an employee conducts themselves with others. The trick is having a clear idea of how you are going to measure success across a range of criteria, and ensuring your employee understands this is what you are looking for.
We have seen a lot of performance drivers across a range of roles. Sometimes they are relevant – sometimes they are not! What is considered high priority from a performance perspective can also vary from manager to manager. There are generally three key areas managers commonly look for to determine their team member’s success.
- Often there are a bunch of things that could best be described as ‘neighbourly’ criteria. These are the behaviours you would expect from a good neighbour. Courteous engagement with fellow colleagues and clients, a prompt and polite manner when responding to queries, staying accountable and works well with others.
- Then you have the superman competencies – driven, self-motivated, works independently and is innovative.
- Sometimes a leader has thought about the specific outcomes necessary in 12 months. This is helpful because it is great to know what success looks like! Sometimes there are just activity targets. Undertake XX engagements per month. Create XX partnering agreements. Bring innovation and new processes to the organisation.
However, without some measure of outcome these activity-based targets may not deliver on what is required or expected from the role. Sometimes pushing activity can be meaningless if not locked into some sort of outcome focus. Likewise, just because someone is self-motivated does not mean they are working towards the hard targets you are expecting. And just because someone possesses good neighbourly qualities does not mean they have their eye firmly on the outcome required from their role.
In reality, all of these attributes and accomplishments are relevant. The person needs an understanding of what success looks like. They also need an understanding of what activity is necessary to get them to achieve the required result, and what values you expect them to display when working with others to achieve their targets.
A good manager or leader should be able to develop KPIs around each of these three areas to create a sense of engagement, acknowledge the individuals’ contribution and value and show how they are progressing towards the outcome.
After all, with a vision, engagement and alignment with the individual, their progress is acknowledged, and they gain insight into their own journey towards success.