HR must ensure individual goals are met

Strategic plans fall short if performance management isn’t in place.

Ultimately, business plans are premised on individual performance. Once employees have a clear line of sight between themselves and corporate goals, it’s up to HR to create the performance management systems that ensure individual goals are achieved.

The tool used to ensure employee alignment translates into actual behaviour.

But often organizations neglect those instruments that are so essential to plan implementation.

A survey of HR professionals conducted by Canadian HR Reporter and consulting company Watson Wyatt last year seems to confirm this. Asked how important performance management is to top management in developing the organizations business strategy, just 35 per cent of respondents said it was very important. “It should be much higher, but it is not seen as a business driver,” said Watson Wyatt’s Graham Dodd, practice leader, human capital group, Western Canada.

Many business leaders don’t believe performance management has to be an important part of the strategic plan, he said. They think of it as “just another HR initiative” rather than a necessary component of business plan implementation.

The first step in ensuring employees can deliver on the corporate strategic plan is to make sure the employees understand what the corporate strategic plan is. Goals and targets must be set and cascaded down through the company, producing localized goals along the way, right down to the individual employees.

It is absolutely crucial employees understand how they tie into the big picture, said Mary Tod, Watson Wyatt’s, practice leader, human capital group, Central Canada.

“It is hard for people to see the value of their work,” said Tod That’s a problem because not feeling connected to a company contributes to poor performance, as well as turnover.

Explaining the mission and providing context for employees is a job for the managers, said Tod. HR can play a role as a catalyst to improve communications but it’s after the goals have been communicated and cascaded down to the bottom of the organization that HR should step in to make sure results and performance cascade back up.

“When you get down to the individual level, that is where HR needs to be hooked in tightly,” she said.

And while many organizations may claim to have some form of performance management in place, too often it lacks the comprehensiveness necessary for successful alignment. This has to come right from the top. CEOs may be paying lip service to the notion that people are key to success — too often they don’t back it up with the support or the training infrastructure it requires.

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