Morphing Evaluations Into Strategic Execution

Morphing Evaluations Into Strategic Execution

By: Jim Gitney   |     February 10, 2013

For most employees, the yearly ritual of sitting across the table from their boss and receiving feedback on their prior year’s performance is completed. According to a study done by Leadership IQ, only 13% of managers and employees feel that year end reviews have a positive impact on them and only 6% of CEOs thought the performance reviews their organization used were effective. They believe that evaluations don’t impact strategic execution.

So, given these dismal statistics, why do organizations continue to spend so much precious energy and time utilizing a system that is at best distasteful and at worst a waste of corporate resources and good will?

The answer isn’t all that complex. It is what we have been taught to do during our careers and, given the lack of an acceptable alternative, something we continue doing. After all, we must do something to tell our employees how they are performing. Yearly evaluations have become a “check the box” ritual.

This ritual can be retooled into a Strategy Execution Consulting Services process that maximizes the productive input of all employees, contractors and part time employees. It is a matter of changing the focus of evaluations by providing meaningful measurements of performance, moving from once a year communications to continuous feedback and defining clearly stated objectives that provide the employee with a higher sense of purpose and focus on the most important goals of the company and its shareholders: goals associated with a company’s strategy.

In a recent article I wrote, “Performance Management as a Business Strategy” , I speak about a 3 step process for creating a high performance culture. Step 1 is all about properly aligning a company’s Vision, Mission, Values, leadership traits and strategic objectives inside an execution system or process through which performance to objectives is measured via KPI’s and continuous feedback: for every employee including the receptionist. This is the fundamental building block for effective strategic executionTM.

There are many systems available to companies to manage this such as Success Factors, Halogen, Ultimate Software, Silkroad and Cascade. Irrespective of what system your company uses, preparation is the most important part of successful execution. Without it, your investment is wasted.

Standard evaluation systems (especially paper based ones) don’t have tools that allow your managers to see where everyone stands and provide feedback on performance more than once a year. Studies indicate that employees under 40 years of age, who grew up in the world of MySpace, Facebook, Twitter and instant messaging want to be engaged in continuous bi-directional feedback on performance. All employees want to know where they stand and how to improve their performance. For the purposes of this article, we will look at a screenshot of Cascade as an illustration.

Cascade tool

When objectives are clearly defined and measurable (and I can assure you that Mission, Vision, Values and Leadership traits and strategic objectives measurable), employees know where they stand. When they see where they stand relative to the rest of the employee population, they want to know how to improve. They want to become more aligned with the cultural needs of the business and significantly improve their performance. If their performance objectives are tied to the strategic objectives of the company, everyone is now focusing on those objectives and relate more closely to the strategic needs of the business. A Win Win for everyone and the basis for an effective strategic execution process.

Ask yourself and members of your leadership team the following questions:

  • Does everyone in our company know what our mission is and how to support it?
  • Can employees articulate what our top strategic priorities are and what tactical things they should be doing in their job to support them?
  • Have we told leaders how we want them to lead?
  • Are we currently getting a good ROI on the effort we spend on yearly evaluations?
  • Do we have a system that clearly identifies who is doing well and who isn’t?
  • Do our employees understand what our values are and demonstrate them everyday?
  • Do we have an effective strategic execution process?

Effective implementation of your company’s strategies require all employees to be focusing their energy and resources on your company’s strategic priorities and business systems that are designed to elevate performance, not undermine it. If you answer no to more than one of these questions, it is quite likely that there is quite a bit of room for improvement.

In summary, while well intentioned, evaluation processes have not been elevated to a strategic process. They remain on the sidelines and are universally disliked by managers and employees. With a little planning and some new tools, evaluations can become part of successfully executing strategy and the basis for moving towards a high performance culture. John Kotter, a leadership professor at Harvard, did a study indicating that companies with high performance cultures can realize 3-5 times better financial performance than their peers.

If you have answered the 7 questions above and would like to explore effective ways to address your answers, feel free to give me a call at (909) 949-9083 any time, or email me at If you would like to get a demo of Cascade, click here.

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About the author and Group50:
Jim Gitney, Group50’s CEO has spent his 30+ year career leading organizations in large and small companies such as GE, Black & Decker, Sunbeam, Rain Bird and others. He has worked with healthy and troubled companies with a focus on performance management and the implementation of high performance cultures. Group50® has developed a unique and systematic approach to performance management that takes a company through a process of identifying its core strategic and cultural objectives, cascades them throughout the organization and utilizes a new tool called Cascade (see a short video here), that significantly increases employee engagement around a company’s strategic imperatives.

This entry was posted in Organizational Development, on February 10, 2013

One Comment

  • Anonymous February 12, 2013 at 7:06 pm

    This is pretty fundamental stuff and amazing how many companies don’t take an integrated approach to engaging their employees and holding them accountable to the company’s strategic objectives.

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