Grundens’ Growth Dilemma
As the leader of a growth firm, you have likely seen how a fast-growing company can outpace its people. Our client Grundens, a leader in commercial fishing gear, found themselves in this tough spot. A few years ago, while they were experiencing rapid growth, I checked in with their CEO to see how their people were doing.
“As we’ve grown, we’ve focused on our strategy and execution - everything that your team at Rhythm helps us with,” he told me. “We’re trying to develop our people, but I can see that we’re still outgrowing them. And I’ve seen this before at both of the other companies I led. When we don’t focus enough on our employees’ personal growth, they get disengaged, they get disappointed, and they leave - or we replace them because they couldn’t get to where we needed them to be. How can we get our people at Grundens to grow as we grow?”
I had seen this before, too. I thought back to research done on why some Chick-fil-A branches are more successful than others: It all comes down to the managers. People tend to leave managers, not companies. This had even happened to me when I worked for Oracle. I had seven managers in total there, six of whom were great - but the seventh was bad, so I left.
What’s more is that poor management leads to poor R.O.P., or Return on Payroll. Underperforming managers create unhappy employees, who in turn create unhappy customers. Suddenly, your projects are failing and your growth is under threat.
You need your managers to get better, and you need to bring your employees closer to their managers so that they will want to stay. The problems may seem simple, but the solutions are tricky if you do not have the right system in place.
Why Performance Management Is So Hard
Managing employee performance in a way that develops leaders to take good care of their people is not easy. The process tends to feel disconnected, burdensome, and stressful.
- Disconnected: It’s challenging for managers to link performance goals to business results. CEOs and leaders are focused on company goals and KPIs. Meanwhile, HR is focused on employee growth and compliance. New leaders in particular do not know how to connect their reports’ performance and growth to actual business outcomes.
- Burdensome: If a company doesn’t have a system in place that already tracks employee work and company goals, a lot of work remains to be done. Robust performance management systems require a lot of customization and data entry, and spreadsheets can be just as cumbersome.
- Stressful: Everyone gets busy. If you’re a growth firm, nobody has a lot of extra time on their hands. Performance conversations get pushed aside. Or, if they do get done, it’s a matter of checking boxes. The conversations lack depth and value for both sides.
It is no surprise that Grundens and other growth companies struggle to manage performance and develop their people! It is not a lack of good intention. It’s the fact that there are so many challenges keeping them from running an efficient and practical performance program.
Watch my webinar to learn how to connect business goals to employee performance:
Performance Conversations and Gallup’s Q12
I remember a firsthand experience with poor performance management. After six months of working at Oracle, I asked my manager, Dave, for a review. He was too busy, so I wrote my own review and asked him to edit it and add things I could improve.
He laughed and told me, “You’re one of my best guys.” Then he signed the review without making any changes.
Dave was a great manager overall, but not at that moment. He was so busy and focused on the business that he didn’t have time to give me what I really wanted: improvement areas. Top performers are not afraid of receiving feedback and suggestions for improvement and growth. In fact, we thrive on it! We want great managers and leaders who will provide us with candid feedback that help us grow.
Knowing that your manager cares about your development is one of the items you can find in Gallup’s Q12 Employee Engagement Survey. Whenever a client asks me about employee retention, I encourage them to start having meaningful performance conversations by using a few of Gallup’s questions:
- Do you know what is expected of you at work?
- Does your supervisor or someone at work seem to care about you as a person?
- Is there someone at work who encourages your development?
- In the last six months, has someone at work talked to you about your progress?
- In the last year, have you had opportunities to learn and grow?
When you are ready to start having these conversations, you will need a system to facilitate performance management - a system that will help your managers show support for their employees while also tying employee performance to business results!
How Rhythm Does the Work for You
Grundens was trying to keep their people by providing some learning opportunities here and there. But I knew there was a much better way.
“You’re already using Rhythm,” I told the CEO. “It tracks your business goals, who is working on which goals, the work being assigned, and what is statusing Red, Yellow, or Green. You already know what your employees are working on and how they are contributing towards the growth goals of the company. Now you can add in a personal development or personal growth goal for your employees, and view both their business goals and their growth goals on the same dashboard. This gives you a complete picture of what your employees are working on, both for the company and for their own career growth.”
Most systems today do not connect the employees’ career development and growth goals with business performance. But shouldn’t we have both - excellence for the business and excellent career growth for the employee? This is how Rhythm does the work for you.
I did this recently with one of my salespeople. He wanted to work on getting more meetings, so we made this his growth goal and linked it to the strategic goals it supports in the company. During our performance meetings, we can now look at his KPIs (his day job) and his growth goal. He knows what his job is, and he knows that someone cares and is helping him develop as a professional.
By connecting business results with employee growth and presenting leaders with this information all in one place, you can help employees develop their career paths and achieve their business objectives. Rhythm presents you with a single dashboard and tracks progress in one place. When it comes time to discuss performance and reviews, you no longer have to figure out where all the information is and track everything down to have a quality conversation with your team members. Rhythm has already collected these goals and KPIs. We take the busy work out of performance discussions!
Grow Your People Alongside Your Business
If you are already using Rhythm, the system is doing most of the work for you. It contains your employees’ key responsibilities and results, as well as your company's Core Values. You create the growth goals and set up the performance conversations. The process is simple, and the software package is already tracking what you need. And, by the way, we have coaches who can help your leaders get even better at performance management!
Growing your business does not mean you have to outgrow your people. Since they began using Rhythm for performance management several years ago, Grundens has doubled their business - and their leaders and employees have grown significantly.
When you invest in your people’s development and connect it to key business results, the company will win, your employees’ performance will accelerate, and they will be excited to stay with you.
For More Information Check Out These Additional Resources:
Photo Credit: iStock by Getty Images