Friday, October 16, 2009

How to Gain Employee Acceptance and Get Them Into a High Performance Mindset

The other day a colleague asked me what the most important factor to a successful performance program. While many of my tips will entail improving processes and systems, there is no question that people are the driving force behind successful organizations. Implementing a successful performance program involves numerous requirements, perhaps none more important than gaining employee acceptance. While most will agree that managing performance is crucial to the success of a business, strong resistance is often met when it comes to an initiative which entails scrutinizing the productivity of business units and employees. Often times, in the employees’ eyes, a performance improvement initiative is a negative reflection of their current performance. In their minds it comes across as if their performance is bad and that others know how to do their job better than they do. As a result, morale is diminished and the performance initiative is halted before it gets off the ground.

We all know that this isn't the reality. In reality, we engage in performance initiatives to expand on our organization's current capabilities by introducing techniques that are proven to produce greater results. In return, employee morale skyrockets and internal processes are more efficient.

So, what can we do to get employees to accept new performance initiatives and perform at a high level? Here are six tips that will guarantee that your performance initiative starts with a bang:

1. Involve employees at all levels
2. Make sure employees understand objectives
3. Strive for improvement instead of judging past performance
4. Get visible support from executives and senior management
5. Challenge employees to act immediately
6. Enable them to monitor results

To get better acceptance of the performance initiative, as with any change initiative, it is best to involve employees at all levels. Any new performance management or evaluation system is not likely to gain acceptance if it's used to rate, rank or single out people or their services. An initiative is much more accepted if it's shown to lead to individual growth and development. And employees are much more likely to have buy-in if they are offered the opportunity to participate and share their opinions and be part of the process.

Another way to improve employee acceptance and performance is to make sure they understand corporate, team and personal objectives. Once this understanding is established employees won't ask why they have to change the way they do things, because they will know what the objectives are and how they will contribute to reaching them.

The most important aspect of implementing a performance initiative and gaining employee acceptance is to encourage improvement. One of the main reasons employees resist performance management initiatives is because they are afraid they may look bad once they are measured on specific objectives. The goal of the performance initiative is to baseline your current service delivery and measure performance, and base success on improvement.

One of the most overlooked, but most effective methods of gaining employee acceptance is to demonstrate support from executives and senior management. Many performance initiatives fail simply for the fact that it doesn't appear to be a priority from executives. When employees see these objectives being communicated from the executive office, whether it be emails, newsletters, town hall meetings, or morality speeches they know that their performance is being monitored outside of their business unit or the consultants who come in and manage the project. Some organizations do not perform well simply for the fact that the employees do not believe it is very important, or is being monitored by executives.

Another effective method for getting employees to buy into the performance initiative and get into the mindset of peak performance is to challenge them. This can be done by identifying an area of improvement, providing a process that can help them do it better than the status quo, and getting them to commit to improving in those areas, starting one area at a time.

When it comes to monitoring results, the most effective way to get employees to perform at a high level is to make sure they know exactly what they will be measured against and to give them the ability to monitor the performance in which an independent reporting team reports on. When employees have access to these results and understand why and how they are being measured, they shift their focus to achieving those metrics. If the metrics are truly aligned with the organizational objectives, then individuals within your organization will be fine tuned for peak performance.

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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