Anil is the CEO of a technology startup. In its first five years, the organization performs impressively, setting itself up for sustained profits in the near future. But Anil is worried about the high employee turnover at his organization—the rate at which employees join, reach peak performance, begin to slacken and get dismissed.
Anil wants to create a team that can keep on improving and become a valuable part of the long-term vision of the organization. He attends a seminar where he learns about the role of performance managers in successful organizations. Inspired by the seminar, Anil decides to hire Preeti, a performance manager with more than a decade of experience in getting the best out of professionals.
From year two, Anil notices how influential a performance manager can become and the kind of difference they can make to an organization. Thanks to Preeti’s guidance, employees no longer exhaust themselves or lose their motivation while working for the startup. They’re able to appreciate the values of the organization much better and imagine their own place as part of the long-term future of the organization.
Through her performance management skills, Preeti is able to transform an organization that practiced hire and fire for short-term gains into an organization that nurtures its employees for the long haul.
What Is A Performance Manager Responsible For In An Organization?
Before understanding who is a performance manager, it’s important to understand what is performance management and how it works.
Performance management in any organization refers to a set of standards, protocols and practices that are put in place to optimize the performance levels of its employees. Performance management is being rapidly adopted by leading organizations so that they can keep pace with the competition in their respective industries. A performance manager or employee performance manager is someone whose main task is to look after this optimization and to ensure that employees fulfil their responsibilities as expected.
A performance manager is not only in charge of individual employee management, but also needs to look after the performances of groups or departments as a whole. Performance managers must have access to all relevant data as well as all the leading analytical tools to excel at their job.
A competent performance manager should know data interpretation, have counseling expertise and be aware of all the latest techniques associated with increasing performance levels in the industry concerned.
What Does A Performance Manager Do?
A performance manager is expected to carry out a vast range of responsibilities covering multiple aspects of performance. The key duties of a performance manager are explained as follows:
- Design and develop efficient and effective systems for collection of data on performance that can be analyzed both qualitatively and quantitatively
- Offer in-depth performance reviews on a quarterly, semi-annual and/or annual basis
- Identify the strengths and weaknesses of each and every employee and suggest measures to get them to perform at a higher level wherever possible
- Gather and analyze cross-functional performance data
- Recommend policies related to employee performance, which may include wage structures, incentives and rewards system, fines and punishments
- Distribute responsibilities among teams, appoint team leaders and provide thorough guidelines on the right combinations and balance across departments
- Look into interpersonal conflicts and/or disciplinary issues and fix them swiftly
- Consult with senior associates about the long-term objectives of an organization and the relationship between performance and organizational values
- Organize comprehensive feedback and interview sessions with employees regularly to make the organization more receptive to their complaints and suggestions
This is by no means an exhaustive list of what a performance manager is supposed to do. Depending on the nature of the organization and the number of performance managers hired, the exact duties of a performance manager will keep varying. But the above-mentioned functions are among the most basic and essential roles for a performance manager at any organization. It goes to show the influence that a performance manager holds in any organization. It’s safe to say that after the CEO and the executive board, the performance manager is one of the most important people at any organization.
Types Of Performance Managers
Performance managers can be broadly divided into two types—line managers and top managers. The precise roles and responsibilities of each type of employee performance manager is explained below:
1. Line Managers
They’re the ones in charge of the operational side of performance management, the ones who conduct reviews, development plans and policy analysis on a regular basis. Based on the nature of the organization, they may also be in charge of managing groups or other managers. Line managers work closely with the HR team and have strong connections with the finance department as well as senior management. They also play a valuable role in the design and development of performance management structures and programs by frequently involving themselves in pilot studies.
Line managers may have a substantial amount of bureaucratic and administrative responsibility but that doesn’t undermine the strategic value they add to an organization. While they aren’t always the ones in the limelight, no organization can be successful without a dedicated pool of line managers who are aware of the nitty-gritty of daily performance.
2. Top Managers
Top managers at any organization are the trendsetters in matters of performance. They’re the ones employees look up to for inspiration as well as a clear vision of the short- and long-term future of the organization. Top managers are deeply involved in the design and implementation of policy as well as in coordination with line managers. It’s also expected that top managers will convince employees across departments about the importance of taking performance management seriously. They’re the ones who bear ultimate responsibility for employee satisfaction and productivity.
During periods of crises, performance managers are expected to lead from the front, to identify risks that are worth pursuing and for establishing the kind of work culture that can help the organization negotiate difficult periods. Top managers are among the most recognizable and influential members of an organization, which is why it takes years of experience and consistent performance before anyone can aspire to become a top manager.
In the popular American TV show Billions, the character of Mike Wagner is an excellent example of a line manager who rises through the ranks to become a top manager. Wagner is part of Axe Capital, a leading hedge fund organization led by New York City billionaire Robert Axelrod. When Wagner initially joins the organization, his role primarily consists of optimizing the performance of stockbrokers by managing and supervising their work on a daily basis. In other words, he fulfills the requirements of a line manager.
Over time, as Wagner acquires a greater reputation and more importance at Axe Capital, Axelrod makes him his top manager, someone who reports directly to the Chief Investment Officer (CIO) and is in charge of shaping the vision and values of the organization. Wagner doesn’t entirely quit his previous role of detailed evaluation of regular employee performance. But he starts spending more time crafting the policies that will make Axe Capital stand out from other hedge fund organizations.
His transition from a line manager to a top manager is smooth and organic. It gives a neat representation of how determination and diligence can make performance managers indispensable to leading organizations.
Relationship Between Employees And Performance Managers
No employee performance manager can hope to be efficient at their work if they don’t receive cooperation from their employees. The following section takes a look at the role employees play in maintaining the vital relationship between themselves and an employee performance manager:
- Employees participate actively in formulating performance agreements and performance objectives on a quarterly, semi-annual and annual basis
- Employees participate in 360-degree assessment schemes, without which performance managers can’t complete an employee performance review
- Employees have regular sessions with their performance managers to channel their grievances or discuss their doubts and concerns about their performance levels
- Employees maintain a steady feedback loop with performance managers (sometimes on an informal basis) that ensures there’s no miscommunication on matters of performance targets and delivery
What Makes A First-Class Performance Manager
The sheer volume and range of work expected of performance managers make them among the most sought-after employees at any organization. A first-class performance manager must be on a constant lookout for new information, learn to negotiate with different personalities and have the clarity and foresight to take key performance decisions on behalf of an organization. Harappa’s High Performing Leaders Program ensures all this and much more.
Through frameworks like Design Thinking, Trust Equation and the Skill-Will Matrix, this program helps prepare performance managers who can navigate ambiguity, mitigate risks and crises and decode the strategic big picture without missing out on details. Moreover, your employees also get to learn several must-have thrive skills that are bound to help any performance manager, such as critical thinking, developing a commercial acumen and managing diversity across teams and geographies. Sign up your employees for Harappa’s High Performing Leaders Program and watch them mature into excellent performance managers!
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