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I setup Synergy Management Associates ( in 1993 as a center for promoting business excellence through its training and consulting services We have promoted innovative managment ideas, managing senior level projects and for delivering creative client solutions across business segments. We has shown time-tested capacity to build "Peak Performance Organisations" . by Designing Business Excellence Models, Audit and Design HRD Systems, Implement Performance Management Systems. I have been called “disruptive thought leader in the boardroom ” or “contra rebel” for my tangential thinking and ideas to improvise business vision and policy as a corporate advisor; I have helped young managers business scions and young entrepreneurs (who wish to become future CEOs) through my META+COACH MODEL. I have been called “performance turnaround specialist” by the sales managers for the quantum improvement Direct Marketing Campaigns and Steping -up Salesforce Effectiveness, I found time to be a visiting professor and seminar leader at India's premier management institutes and Chamber of and a keynote speaker for numerous conferences & seminars.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

PERFORMANCE FEEDBACK The life-blood of a performance managment system

Giving employees effective feedback on their performance may seem like a tough job, but it does not have to be. By focusing on the delivery of the right information in the right setting, you can make the process more relaxed and effective for both you and your employees.

Come April …. And it’s the season of performance appraisal and the inevitable debate and controversy of a “just and transparent” Performance Management System. Then  in a few weeks there will be a still louder arguments on “increments” and even a spate of resignations for being shortchanged by the employer…! Seems familiar

The core of the problem is fairness … a myth because bias-free appraisals are bigger myth….One of the primary reasons for this controversy,  is that current thinking  about performance appraisals are increasing hovering around quantitative metrics  and perhaps the worst advice that appraisers are urged to swallow is to be OBJECTIVE, to keep their judgments and personal feelings out of the assessment process.

The flaw is the bogus notion that objective means quantifiable; that if something can't be counted then it isn't objective and therefore shouldn't be used. That's nonsense. The talent of a cricketer cannot always be measured by the number of runs he did score in the World Cup Final on 2nd April . The issue isn't whether or not behaviors can be quantified; it's whether or not they can be verified. Numbers just happen to be easy to verify. While numerical measures would be nice to have for every objective, the search for meaningful ones is often fruitless.

When I was designing the performance appraisal system  of our client companies ,we have confronted the issue of "objectivity" directly… for example …A book publishing company is one of the country's largest employers of linguists and translators. Now look at their situation…How do you evaluate the performance of a language translator? Do you measure the number of words translated? Of course not. What the book publisher really wants from its translators is the ability to capture nuance, and no quantifiable measure of that capability exists. But it certainly can be described and evaluated: A skilled native speaker can easily sort translations into those that read like machine-generated transliterations and those that capture the soul of an author's words. .

A more difficult issue come out of the sales force because everthing  centres on “target” & “quotas” and does not reveal the selling techniques of the sales professional or the difficulty of the key customer accounts ( specially handed over to him ….because they are tough nuts to crack) or the nature of the a new uncharted territory he has been combing the year long…. Many of these  sweat-stained work is never really noticed until  after a star salesman resigns as demanded for lack of fulfillment of the quota!

A glance in the dictionary reveals what objective really means: "uninfluenced by emotions or personal prejudices" and "based on observable phenomena; presented factually." Writing a person's performance appraisal requires the manager to be fair, objective, and unprejudiced. But the fair-and-objective requirement does not mean that the manager is restricted to quantitative resources in completing the assessment. THE MANAGER'S FEELINGS, OPINIONS, AND JUDGMENTS ARE PRECISELY WHAT THE APPRAISAL PROCESS DEMANDS. Managers are paid to make judgments even when-or particularly when-all of the facts are not available. In every other area of managerial activity, the ability to act appropriately on the basis of limited and occasionally conflicting data is celebrated and rewarded. Only in the case of performance appraisal are we uncomfortable about the fact that qualitative, experience-based information is used.

Actually, people don't want "objective" information. What they want is their boss's opinion, plain and true. Managers need training less in how to create and deliver an objective appraisal and more in how to summon the courage to tell it like it is-to talk straight from the heart. Performance appraisals are the “World Cup Finals” of HRM .This is not day-to-day stuff. Very few people ever get to do it; fewer still do it well.

Giving employees honest feedback on their performance can be one of the toughest jobs a manager can do. Leaders often shy away from delivering the honest feedback their employees need because it is uncomfortable and can seem overwhelming to deal with. Yet without good feedback, your operation cannot improve productivity, and your employees cannot grow and learn.

Before you walk into  this year 2011 performance review, here are seven tips to help take the "sting" out of giving feedback.

All performance feedback should be conducted in a private, one-on-one setting, behind a closed door, without interruptions. Never give feedback to an employee in a setting where other employees may overhear you, such as in the break room or the hallway. Feedback on the employee's performance should be private between you and the employee whom it concerns. This is a simple rule, but many leaders underestimate the value of privacy in dealing with their employees, and risk damaging the trust of the employee-manager relationship.
Interruptions can be as threatening as a lack of privacy to an employee in a one-on-one feedback session. If you do not give your employee your complete and undivided attention, you are sending a clear signal to him or her the conversation is not all that important to you. Turn off your cellphone, and put up a sign outside the door instructing people not to interrupt.

One of the most effective and oft-neglected - tools of feedback is self-feedback. This is when the employee is given a chance to comment on his or her own behavior and productivity. This technique is highly effective for a number of reasons: employees are likely to be tougher on themselves than you are on them, and they will also work harder to improve in areas they disclose personally.
The best way for the appraising manager to incorporate self-feedback is to create a two-way conversation centered on each of the performance topics. In this situation, a Manager will ask the employee for her opinion, then the Manager will give his own opinion. Managers should always give their opinions last, to avoid influencing the comments of the employee.
For example, if the topic of conversation is production units, and the required metric is 300 units/day, the Production Manager might ask the employee, "How well do you feel you are meeting your daily performance target?" The employee then has the opportunity to evaluate herself, as well as to identify any problem areas up front. The Manager may then agree with the employee's interpretation of her success, or point out times where the employee is not meeting the daily expectation of 300 units/day.

Performance issues, if left unaddressed, they tend to grow worse and multiply. Performance discussion would be better if they are given in small doses, very informally and context specific  Any serious issue should be addressed with the employee as soon as it is noticed, preferably the same day. Manager should take the employee aside, describe the observed problem behavior, and then ask the employee why it happened. The Manager will then want to re-state the performance expectations for the job.
For example, if a Manager observes an employee arriving late three days in a row, she should take the employee aside immediately and describe the observation, then give the employee a chance to explain why, by saying "I have noticed that you have arrived at 8:30 three days this week. What is going on?" She may then need to reiterate that all employees are expected to be at their places, working, by eight o'clock.

It is important Manager should only try to correct behavior they have personally observed, not behavior they have heard about word-of-mouth from other employees. This situation can create tension and suspicion among a work team. If a Manager has not observed a performance problem directly, it should not be addressed in performance feedback. It’s like bursting of a dam…. If the issues is kept under covers for 365 days and on D-day is downloaded like a tonne of bricks.

Many leaders feel comfortable saying "Be on time in the morning," or "Be sure to finish your work before you leave today," but rarely are these statements interpreted the same way by everyone. One employee may interpret this as "…is my contribution measured in minutes or is it measured in results….???" Performance expectations need to be delivered in a concise, clear manner, without questionable interpretations, especially when there is a problem. Numbers, dates, productivity units, metrics and standards are helpful to include when communicating performance expectations to an employee. A Manager should clearly specify "The expectations are that call reps will take 15 calls per day" is much more concise than saying, "You need to take more calls." The more specific you are, the less misinterpretation that is likely to occur.

Many Manager are so concerned about correcting their employees' mistakes they tend to overlook their positive achievements altogether. Be sure to point out what the employee is doing right. It is important to recognize employees for their accomplishments to keep them motivated.
Another common mistake is to overwhelm employees with a long laundry list of areas to improve. A better approach is to identify two or three of the most critical areas to improve, and allow the employee to focus on improving these. As the employee improves in these areas, you can work together on identifying and fixing the other, less-critical issues.

Most companies do official performance reviews at least once per year, but employees cannot go a whole year before they hear how they are perform. ing in their jobs, especially new employees. A new employee needs to hear feedback weekly, perhaps even daily, until she feels comfortable with her daily tasks and responsibilities. An employee who has been around for awhile still needs to hear performance feedback more frequently than once a year, whether there are problems or not. Good feedback motivates employees, and problems will get fixed sooner rather than later. Even if it is not a formal performance review, employees should receive casual but specific one-on-one feedback on their performance once a quarter at a minimum, monthly if possible. Performance-related discussions between bosses and subordinates do not require a formal, full-blown performance appraisal system. Indeed, it can be argued that the real coaching and counseling sessions that shape and improve employee performance occur informally, outside such systems. The same can be said of goal setting and feedback. It is also questionable if much of what passes for feedback in formal performance appraisal sessions is deserving of the term. Organizational expectations of the performance-management system have been upgraded. Where in the past the system may have been used merely to tell his team member,  how he was doing and justify his annual increase, organizations now see performance-management systems as having tremendous power to transform the culture of the corporation.

At a minimum, Manager should keep notes on any performance problems discussed, including the date, the problems discussed and the performance expectations communicated to the employee. This documentation should be kept in the employee's file or in the human resources documentation, depending on the policy of your company. This is both to refresh your memory in the future and to be used as documentation in the event of legal action taken on a disciplinary action. The human resources department should ideally prepare a guideline or format  company's policy on employee documentation.

Giving employees effective feedback on their performance may seem like a tough job, but it does not have to be. By focusing on the delivery of the right information in the right setting, you can make the process more relaxed and effective for both you and your employees.

NOW, GIVE ME YOUR FEEDBACK… ON THIS ISSUE we could have a compendium of best practices in HRM  of Indian companies… To know how they  invent & reinvent ways to delight their employees.

        Best wishes
                   Wilfred Monteiro


KEY ACCOUNT MANAGMENT is the backbone of any go-to-market strategy companies are trying to reduce their vendor base for better quality and control AND CONVERSELY sellers want to reduce their selling cost by gaining more wallet share of their loyal customers

Key Account Management is enjoying a resurgence as suppliers look for new ways to increase sales and profitability.

Many suppliers have come to realise that certain customers must be treated somewhat differently from the average customer. However, it is one thing to recognise that they should be treated differently, it is quite another to figure out exactly what to do. Many suppliers are struggling to deal with these questions on a national or regional basis. Managing key accounts is a complex and difficult business.

Key 1: Account Selection
More and more companies are focusing their sales effort on a smaller group of prospects and customers. This has many benefits in terms of revenue and profit generation, customer satisfaction and loyalty, effective use of sales resources, and organisational alignment. Surprisingly, very few companies apply any rigour to the process of selecting key accounts. This is patently unwise, as poor account selection virtually guarantees that some of the accounts chosen will not deliver a good return on investment.

Companies moving into key account management are sometimes tempted to start big - either by starting their program with too many accounts or by simply declaring their largest revenue producers key accounts (whether or not they are profitable). The danger in choosing customers solely for their revenue levels is that you may find yourself making large investments for little or no return.

In addition to historic revenue patterns other things to consider are:

 Do you understand the customer's culture; do you have similar values?
 How much do they spend on the things you have to sell?
 Will they be as important to you in the future as they are today?
 Do you know and understand their strategy?
Do you know your competitors' strengths in selected customers?
 Most importantly, how does your customer view you?

Key 2: Account Organisation
Customers are increasingly evaluating suppliers on their ability to deploy teams. Those teams need to feature appropriate seniority for the work and the appropriate range of specialists throughout the supplier organisation. Critical elements of the supplier organisation are:
 Top down support. It is vital that a key account programme is positioned in the company as core to the business. It is not just another marketing department initiative. The best indication of this is positive support from the board to any programme.

 Internal Communications. Not only is it vital to demonstrate how important the programme is from the outset, but it is critical that momentum is sustained by an energetic internal communications programme.
Accountability. Wherever key customers impact the organisation, or can be impacted, the commitment to that customer must percolate through all levels, departments, and functions of the supplier. Team working and accountability is essential.
 Change Management. All employees must be trained to accept the change and work towards a new approach. There should be an account management manual as a guidebook for the entire supplier organisation to know which customers are most important and why.

Key 3: Value Proposition
Research repeatedly shows that “understanding the customer's business” is a critical factor in the framing of any Value Proposition for a key customer. The Value Proposition will change over time as the relationship progresses (and hopefully deepens).
 Understand customer's needs - some only want a commodity supplier. If so, they may not be key!
 Articulate value, not costs
 Keep refreshing any Value Proposition in line with the customer's changing business
 Propose a mutual Value Proposition when appropriate
 Do things gradually - don't rush!

Key 4: Account Manager Recruitment
Key Account Managers are individuals who must generate profitable revenue over the long term. While they are salespeople their knowledge and skills base are wider and must encompass general business management, board level communications, consultative selling, and thought leadership.

Key 5: Account Manager Mentoring
For Key Account Managers, the major challenge is moving from a traditional needs based approach - exploring the customer's current needs and offering products to match them - to taking a 'big picture' approach which encompasses the customer's future strategy within their own marketplace and seeking ways to add value by helping them achieve these strategic aims. This is a more consultative sales approach and requires a different skill set to that of a traditional salesperson.

Directors may be the best mentors as they are probably in the best position to:
 help account managers to think strategically and to review the business plans being developed on the basis of that strategic thinking
help in developing a Value Proposition around how their organisation can create value for the customer beyond traditional product benefits
 help the Key Account Manager gain access to more senior levels within the customer in order to sell this Value Proposition
 help to resolve any internal difficulties that might block new and innovative solutions and ways of doing things

Key 6: Account Planning
Key Account Management by definition focuses on your most profitable customers and prospects. This usually means developing a written sales plan for an individual customer - understanding the customer's longer term goals, how their organisation makes decisions, who the important influencers are, what specific business needs you can address with your products, services, and information. It is imperative that as much work as possible is done to build a good knowledge base on the customer. The written plan need not be too lengthy or detailed ( two or three pages would suffice) but it should be regularly reviewed and updated.

Key 7: Plan Execution
Planning is all very well but without effective execution it is worthless. Plan execution requires a variety of skills both to manage the customer, and the supplier organisation. Two sets of politics, imperatives, and cultures may be in conflict at many stages during the relationship.

A regular review of the alignment between the parties, and involving both parties, greatly improves the chances of successful plan execution.

Key 8: Monitoring and Measurement
During the initial stage, the first objective should be to set a standard of performance. For instance, if the objective is increased sales of brand A and this was being pursued strongly by the Key Account Manager in an efficient managing of the customer, then it should result in x % increase in sales.

There should be a continuous measurement of the way a customer is handled and the customer's performance in leveraging the product in the market. Through a process of continuous evaluation, a supplier can recognise key customers and pay more attention to them.

with best compliments
Dr Wilfred Monteiro