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Managing Performance Project Assignment -

Topic - Performance Management and Strategic Planning


The other common error is to confuse strategic planning with tactics. No strategic planning should ever try to make long-range detailed micro plans. Planning at the tactical level has to be local and short-term. Long-range plans need to be much more general and much more flexible about resources and methods.

Is there a feedback loop between SPs and their bosses? Of course. Strategy and planning together make up a highly iterative process. Often we know that we are developing a plan just so the decision maker(s) can see whether their grand ideas can be turned into something that looks like it would work. Earlier in the process, we often outline alternatives and make suggestions. Further down the road, we can and often do point out problems with a strategy and suggest variations.

And at many points in the process, we gather, filter, and communicate trend data, forecasts, systems models, and other information that will help them design viable strategies or modify existing ones as needed (Noe, et al., 2017). In a small organization, strategic planning often also gathers intelligence, builds models, does forecasting, analyzes internal capabilities, and provides other decision support for the boss.

But, in general, trained professional SPs who fancy themselves as master strategists are fooling themselves (Finkelstein, et al., 1996). If not, they're in the wrong business and they should switch to the executive track so they can learn the leadership skills to go with their strategic abilities.

Note: I'm obviously not talking here about the person on the executive track who does a stint as VP of Strategic planning. That's a good opportunity for a future top gun to get a look at the whole enterprise and to learn about the planning process, but it doesn't turn him or her into a real SP.

There are several different planning methodologies for creating a strategic plan, such as Balanced Scorecard, A3, OKRs, and more. Each has its own different pros and cons.

The important thing to consider when creating a plan, besides the end goal, is which type of methodology works best for your organization and culture.

A few basic tips to include when creating your strategic plan:

  • Cascading levels of objectives, goals or projects - this ensures alignment throughout an organization, keeping individuals strategic instead of busy.
  • Assign a sole responsible person - holding people accountable is often difficult in organizations. Assigning a task to several individuals, essentially assigns it to no one.
  • Track a metric (if possible) - it's a lot easier to measure success with a KPI or quantifiable number. If not, at least collect uniform status updates.
  • Collect updates - don't let your plan collect dust, ensure updates are collected at a regular frequency (monthly/quarterly). Enough to track progress over time and pivot if needed, but not too many updates.
  • Review and Revise! - a strategic plan should be a living document. Treat it similar to financials that are reviewed and forecasted regularly. The more you discuss your strategic plan, the more serious employees will take it and the more successful you will be.


One real example of a strategy might help. We were bringing a radical concept to the market through a mobile app. We had applied for patents but recognized that this was at best a warning shot and not going to stop fast followers if we were successful. (Can you imagine whether we could have afforded to take on say Apple if they infringed our patents?) Patents also have different coverage depending upon jurisdiction. The strategy developed was to have a development plan for the app and the business that added more and more features faster than anyone else - so we were in fact out-thinking the competition. The tactics were choosing which of the newer features we would bring into the market first, for example.

There is a view, with a good deal of intellectual weight behind it that the gradual adoption - and that's quite interesting in itself - of agile techniques in business means that strategy is really dead. (For a brilliant and succinct overview of what this means in practice and how to implement it, see Robert Morley's book, Agile in Business.) In fact, the role of strategy is actually far more important because of agile, as there has to be an over-riding sense of direction. The real change is that strategy is no longer - if it ever was - set in place for twelve months and then followed through to the end of a set period. (I've worked in corporate life where this did happen.) It begins to look more like a tactical response - but actually, it is still necessary to have that strategic thinking.

To create an effective strategic plan an organization's leaders must first clearly understand their business and what business they really want to be in. They must also conduct and have SWOT Analysis, customer research (including non-customers), economic, government (industry laws and regulations data), and technology (current and forecasting trends) accurate data available.

Once this information is available and carefully analyzed, leaders must discuss their intention to shift strategy with their team. All company departments should be given the opportunity to share ideas and express concerns. After the Voice of Employee has been acquired the strategic plan can begin.

An effective strategic plan is composed of the following:

  • Vision Statement
  • Mission Statement
  • Key Customer Value Factors
  • Goals
  • Objectives
  • Visual KPI Metrics
  • Contingency and Preventative Plans


To be effective, a strategic plan must be visual and are not meant to be paper documents that sit on shelves nor Word or PowerPoint documents that are only seen once. The CEO (top management) must also gain support from respected and persuasive key personnel that will drive buy-in to the new strategic plan and discourage opposition. Effective leaders align the strategic plan with daily business activities by translating what needs to be accomplished into how it will be accomplished. They give each department clear responsibilities and performance expectations instead of sending out a memo company-wide that this year they want to increase revenue by $10 million. In short, strategic goals are distributed in small batches.

Effective leaders ensure employees are given clear responsibilities and performance expectations; and are given timely rewards for achieving goals. They also ensure that the strategic plan contains clear objectives, provides and utilizes measures of performance, clear due dates and is visual.

Issues -

Performance management is one of the most crucial aspects of an organization. Without evaluating an employee's performance, no company can plan for the future nor expect better business results.

Some of the reasons why performance management systems fail are:

Employees often experience high levels of stress around the time of performance evaluations. This is because the review happens only once a year. Frequent feedback and acting upon it, 360-degree feedback, external and self-evaluation are some of the better approaches. A more structured process is required.

Employee goals are often unaddressed. Goals are necessary to keep an employee motivated and productive.

Most of the times, managers are unable to communicate what they exactly expect from an employee and that's where the system becomes a failure.

Rewarding and Recognizing employees is of extreme importance to keep employee morale, loyalty and productivity rates high. A system that doesn't include rewards and recognition has a higher risk of failure.


Data Collection -

Important steps in Performance Management

The first and foremost step in managing Performances is setting expectations.

You set expectations in the form of goals or objectives for people working in your organization. Another important factor is how you decide the other aspects of the Performances, i.e.

Training & Development: Plan on what aspects Training and development will be planned. How many roles will HR have in giving training and development needs and how will they be executed. This aspect is necessary as people feel that their growth and skill knowledge at an organization is the bedrock of their association with the organization.

Role Planning and Succession: Discuss how to develop employees for a future role, people involved in the process.

Review based on Time Lines or Projects: Will the reviews be time-based? Or will they be project based?

No. of Reviewers: How many numbers of Reviewers will be there for a Reviewer.

Plan & Schedule: When do you want to fix the goals and when do you want the assessments to start? Do you want it to be a continuous process or a one time?

Feedback: How will you plan the feedback? Do you want Peers, Customers, Seniors, Juniors all to be involved in Feedback?

There is not just one step here. You might need to revamp your current performance management strategy to achieve this. Category leaders across the world have also recently revamped their performance appraisal processes. There are a lot of studies that have also revealed the negative impact that assigning a numerical value to a person's performance might have on the employee motivation levels. It will be quite interesting to see the future trends that performance management will get to witness in the coming years.

Numerical rankings are not a very effective way of motivating employees. In fact, they have proved to be detrimental in empowering employees to think better of themselves and improve their performance. Ranking of employees is mostly subjective and can lead to unhealthy comparisons and bitterness among employees. Employees should know how they are performing individually, and not how they have fared as compared to their colleagues.


Any performance management process needs to be a series of successive and/ or parallel measures that improve the performance of employees. So, while there isn't one single step which is the most important when managing performance, there are a few aspects that organizations need to incorporate into their performance management process to be successful.

Clear vision and effective communication: Before setting out to create a Performance Management System, business leaders must clearly outline what they hope to achieve by implementing it. Next, they must identify a method to effectively communicate their vision to employees, managers, and leaders across functions. Also important is to ensure that the Team and Individual goals set as part of the PMS are aligned with the objectives of the organization. When most of the people involved understand and believe in the purpose of an initiative, it is more likely to succeed.

Investing in Technology and Experts: Formulating and implementing a PMS is an iterative and continuous process. It requires a set of dedicated resources to plan, monitor, and put into effect such a process. Business leaders who rely on experts with end-to-end experience in managing these processes using the right tools are more likely to be able to execute them successfully.

Involving Managers in decision-making: Given the critical role that Managers are expected to play in the implementation of a PMS, it is only logical that they are included in the decision-making process while formulating a strategy for it. Incorporating Manager input to the process ensures their buy-in to its purpose and allows for tweaking of the process based on challenges that they foresee and face when assessing the performance of their people.

Continuous feedback process: An effective PMS is one that provides employees with regular feedback. This goes a long way in ensuring that employees who take part in the process still believe in its relevance. Organizations must take measures to ensure that performance reviews are conducted as frequently as is feasible for all stakeholders.

Data analysis -

After gathering information and data, one organizes it -- in summary tables, in charts, in bullet-point outlines, or whatever other way is appropriate to display clearly and compactly what we know.

Then comes analysis -- reviewing all this information and data, to see what it shows. For example, trends in costs or in sales volume or total market size and market share, accelerations or slowdowns, shifts in a mix, relationships between (say) advertising and sales, and any number of other things. The objective of the analysis is to formulate questions and hypotheses. Questions such as "Why have costs been rising while sales were static?". Hypotheses such as "Market share has been declining, because we have kept prices too high vs. competitors".

Very often, one finds that the information and data collected are inadequate for meaningful analysis. For example, data covers too short a time span to be able to define meaningful trends. That moves the study back to the information gathering phase, with now more focus on the types and amounts of facts that are needed (Judge and Douglas, 1998). That can also show there is a problem with the company not having adequate information about its businesses, markets, and operations. Finding out what kind of information is needed, to be able to make decisions about how to change future performance is a key benefit of a strategic planning effort.

Eventually, the investigators will obtain enough information and data to formulate a detailed picture of the business, its competitive situation, its cost and profit structure, and what has been happening in every key area and detail of the business (Cravens and Piercy, 2006). Creating that picture is the first part of the analysis stage.

The next stage of analysis is to determine what that picture actually tells about the condition of the business, and where there are deficits or problems or opportunities. There is not a specific procedure for this. What is done, depends on the actual business, and the kinds and quality of information in hand. But broadly, one wants to define strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats, competitive position and competitive resources, apparent strategies and actions of competitors, market environment and market dynamics, technology and incipient (or needed) technological changes, cost structure and areas needing or offering cost control, and a variety of other factors.


With all of the analysis in hand, one moves to the next stage: formulating a strategy, to gain competitive advantages, change competitive position, increase revenues, improve profitability, disable competitors, and so on (Poister, 2010). That strategy will specify what has to be done, what resources must be acquired to do it, what it will cost, how progress can be monitored and measured, what objectives are sought, and a long list of other items. One has to show feasibility, costs and benefits, and timing and magnitude of projected results.

Possible Solutions -

Performance Management & Evaluation can be improved in the following ways:

Strategy development tools: can be used to ensure that the tasks assigned to employees are directly/indirectly aligned with the goals and objectives of the organization.

Monitoring which provides transparency: An effective Performance Management Software must have a feature of getting a transparent look at each employee's performance

Assessment tools: like 9 box grid provides an insight of multiple dimensions like performance vs. potential, objectives vs. behavior, attrition risk vs. loss of attrition, etc to accurately measure the performance of each & every employee. On the other hand designing, distribution, collection, and analysis of 360-degree feedback form not only speed up the process of performance evaluation but also provide you an opportunity to focus on different and multiple perspectives.

Thorough analysis: With consolidated performance reports over multiple cycles (quarterly, half-yearly, yearly, multiple years) you can focus over the overall average score for an employee.

Recommendation -

Strategic planning is a focused approach for the betterment of an organization. It is obviously lead by the brainstorming top level management but almost every employee is a part of it. It is like chess where even the pawns hold a high value.

There are certain aspects of strategic planning that I would like to highlight which defines the future of it.

The mindset of the CEO or head of the organization should be employee oriented. It should not have a selfish trait just to think about self. A strategy only works if every member of that committee is awarded equal importance.

Involvement of even the minute employee post is required for maintaining a better future for strategic management. They should understand the company from their own point of view and take actions that are necessary for the betterment of it.

Action Plan -

Find out exactly what's expected, how it will be measured, and what's expected when obstacles arise. Then work against those points. This will keep you on track to doing what's right and when to do it.

While you're working on those things throughout the year, set check-in points when you're adding new info, techniques, or things that you've learned to the way things are normally done. Make sure you note them for yourself and seek advice, feedback, and notation from your boss so you can get credit for growing in your role.

Get clarification on when it's ok to stop doing things that take the time or too much time. It's amazing that when properly applied, deadlines can work in your favor. Instead of when's something due and working towards that date, have an earlier when. You may find that spending an extra 10% of the time making decisions doesn't change the decisions. Instead, it can reveal other unknowns and opportunities or simply be gained back to do something else.


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