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Performance-Driven Workforce: Focus on Process, Not Outcomes

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By Kim Shepherd, CEO
With Tom Brennan, Senior Writer

Part 4 in our series: The Performance-Driven Workforce: Performance Management Just Got Served

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

First things first: the performance-driven workforce model is NOT about outcomes. It is about process. Some leaders may say, “Sales are down, so we need a performance plan to drive sales up.” Makes sense, right? Well, not for the performance-driven workforce. Positive outcomes will follow, but for the performance-driven workforce model to work, you need to focus on the process.

Think about the low sales example as a drought. You need rain. But rain doesn’t come because plants are thirsty. Rain comes because water evaporates into vapor, then condenses in clouds and falls. Dreaming about lush plants won’t bring the rain — concentrate on the mechanics.

Not what has but what will happen

Culture is a passion of mine, and it plays an essential role in the performance-driven workforce model. But at a fundamental level,  the performance-driven workforce model is mechanical. A robust culture ensures that your people never feel like cogs, but the mechanics of  the performance-driven workforce model help ensure performance throughout all processes. In this model, performance is not what HAS happened, but what you want to happen, every day, for each and every project.

In the traditional view, processes are series of action steps, but in implementing the performance-driven workforce model you should think in terms of building a seamless conveyor belt. The belt integrates performance, from qualifying a potential new client through executing each engagement to promoting a long-term partnership with the client.

From seed to shining seed

For example, at Decision Toolbox (DT), we recently developed a customer relationship management (CRM) tool called Seeds. Most sales teams manage their pipeline with a goal of making each prospect a client, at which point performance kicks in. Seeds lets us manage the pipeline as if each prospect is already a client, with performance in the driver’s seat from the beginning.

Calling it “Seeds” reminds us that the harvest is just the outcome. Farmers don’t wake up every morning and pick fruit. Day in and day out they focus on the process of nurturing the seeds and the plants, so that come fall, the harvest will be bountiful.

With Seeds we also capture valuable intelligence about any potential client or project from the beginning, and (this is the important part) that intelligence flows into the onboarding process, invoicing, operations, project team assignments, work plans, sourcing strategy, quality control, customer satisfaction, client retention and more.

Performance wants to break

Be careful as you build your conveyor belt. There are a thousand points where performance can fail. You have to anticipate those points and boil out the margin for error. This is where the mechanical aspect of  the performance-driven workforce model is invaluable, and where a great technology team can shine. Technology is the waffle batter that will flow into the gaps and lock down the weak points on your conveyor belt.

So let’s get gritty with it, and look at how the performance-driven workforce model might apply to different aspects of your business. We’ll have space here to look at Finance, and then in Part Five we’ll look at Human resources, customer service, product development, training, and scalability.

The performance-driven workforce model demands real-time financial information, and if you don’t already have an ERP system, get one. ERPs integrate everything — it’s like they were made for the performance-driven workforce model. Operations integrates directly with accounting, for example, so you don’t have to wait until the 10th for last months’ results. Get your tech team to provide you with dashboards that show you the financials you need right now, whether it is 10:30 AM or 10:30 PM.

Mix your own batter

But don’t rely on an off-the-shelf ERP to mix your waffle batter for you —  the performance-driven workforce model is very intentional. We might even call it Performance Deliberate Workforce. For example, at DT, our ERP/ATS/CRM is Recruiting Machine, our own product that also is available as a SaaS. For our internal use we made sure not only that it’s easy to customize pricing and compensation, but also that these customizations integrate across accounting, payroll and operations.

In Part Five we’ll wrap this series up with more on applying the mechanics of the performance-driven workforce model to other aspects of your business.


Connect with Kim on Twitter and LinkedIn.

To learn more about Decision Toolbox, please contact us – we’d love to hear from you!

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