Friday, October 16, 2009

8 Steps For Developing the Scope For a Winning Performance Initiative

Imagine trying to get 10 people that speak 10 different languages to work together and achieve a complex task. It would be extremely difficult no matter how intelligent the people were. This is how we have to think of our organizations...of intelligent people who aren't accustomed to speaking the language of business, or more specifically, the language of performance management.

If you've ever had to managed a project you know the importance of eliminating assumptions and making sure that all key stakeholders are looking through the same lens as to how the project will be carried out. In order to achieve this the first thing you did was document the project scope. Well, a performance initiative shouldn't be any different. Before you even think about implementing a performance program, you must first define the scope of your performance initiative.

The performance scope sets the boundaries for the performance management team. The performance scope defines the high level processes for how the performance management team will approach divisions, support teams and individuals to begin aligning performance to business objectives. Many times there is confusion about what falls inside the boundary of the performance initiative and what does not. Who all will be involved? What groups will be affected? Which groups will be excluded? The project scope ensures that everyone is viewing the initiative the same. Defining a solid scope and socializing it with the performance team, various project managers and key stakeholders is critical. Research has shown that defining scope and objectives are among the most important start-up activities to a successful performance initiative.

A common mistake made by organizations is not defining and communicating the scope of the performance initiative or only defining the initiative in general terms. This lack of definition causes managers and key stakeholders throughout the organization to make assumptions related to their own involvement to the initiative. As performance experts, our goal is to alleviate assumptions by clarifying roles, processes, and expectations. On large scale performance initiatives there is often push back from teams and individuals within the organization. Some even feel threatened (this is discussed in more detail in the 'Gaining Employee Acceptance' blog tip). A well communicated performance scope will help alleviate the politics that could slow down progress.

Performance management scopes are not a common process yet; therefore it may be a good idea for a consultant or a performance manager in charge of the performance implementation to put together a scope on their own to increase the odds of cooperation from the parties being evaluated.

Here are 8 high level steps for establishing your performance scope in a way that will minimize problems:

1. Define the outcome
2. Document assumptions
3. Define the scope of your performance initiative
4. Define deliverables
5. Define functionality
6. Define data
7. Define technical structure definition
8. Define enterprise/organizational structure

If you are looking for a performance management solution that focuses on applying the best practices and key processes that drive organizational success, check out my Free Performance Management Kit.

To learn about the 35 performance management best practices, the 48 key processes, 82 decision support techniques and more, go to The Peformance Portal.

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