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Performance Management on Trial: Let’s Get Specific Using a Mastermind Format

Posted By Sharon Lewis, Tuesday, February 7, 2017
Updated: Thursday, July 20, 2017

Comments following the NYHRPS Forum, May 3, 2016

How does the performance management system tie to the needs of the business and how does individual performance get measured at the business dashboard level?

This question provided the big picture challenge addressed at the March 22 NYHRPS Forum facilitated by Dr. Anna Tavis.  While previous practice sought to replicate the GE methodology, it is no longer the gold standard for management and leadership. Rather today’s leaders have become fast, lean machines that try something and test it on the go.

Intrigued by the case studies presented by Dr. Tavis, NYHRPS members wanted to continue the dialogue with specific action items that they could take back to their offices.  And so, on May 3, NYHRPS Board Member Deb Seidman facilitated a Mastermind Group amongst a small group of members who had participated in the earlier Performance Management discussion. Participants brought case studies that reflected their current work. As a Mastermind group, questions were posed and advice was given, allowing the NYHRPS member to leave with an agenda that they could develop in their own organization.

Cultural Changes at the Grassroots Level will Impact the Success of a New Performance Appraisal System


While a wide range of questions came up during the discussion, case study conversations focused on three specific themes across organizations

  • How does a small company take the best of the processes followed in a large enterprise while keeping its entrepreneurial spirt and nimbleness?
  • How do you create of a culture of feedback at a grass-roots level?
  • How do you create a common line of sight across organizational and personal missions…..so as to improve performance and achieve common goals?

With Forum participants representing both the for-profit and non-profit sectors, Dr. Tavis asked:

  • How do employee motivations differ in for-profit vs a non-profit entity?
  • If non-profits are mission driven, what does the concept of top down goal setting look like?
  • Is a bottom up approach to goal setting more applicable to the non-profit where grass-roots programs and local area relationships are critical in meeting the organizational objectives?

One group considered what they would do if they were starting a performance system from a clean slate. Lessons learned from previous discussions provided the important anchors for building a new system or revising one in place.

  • First and foremost end with a positive impact on the business strategy
  • Focus on a simple method to identify good performers
  • Create a culture of constructive feedback to accelerate and sustain high performance
  • Get buy-in by incorporating the employee perspective
  • Include customization for significant groups by division, generations, etc.

Another interesting moment in the conversation focused on finding champions to support those spearheading the organizational changes. Both the General Counsel and the Marketing teams were singled out as strong partners.

The Mastermind meeting structure was a new format for the Forum Committee. It brought nuances to the meeting that can only be discovered when individuals share the specifics of their individual stories in the spirit of trust, confidentiality and peer advisement. The Forum Committee thanks both Anna and Debbie for their contributions in facilitating these programs and to our participants who came prepared to share and to learn.

NYHRPS Break-Through Innovation Series of Forums provides a platform to discuss emerging issues among thought leaders, peers and HR decision makers in intimate settings limited to 15 participants and 2-3 experts.

Sharon Lewis wrote this post: Sharon Lewis is an independent consultant specializing in branding and communications strategies. Sharon sits on the Marketing Committee of NYHRPS and has an appointment on the Executive Council of AARPNY. Follow her @sharonlewisnyc.

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