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Boosting your Manufacturing Performance


Increased demand, volatile raw material prices, new technologies, increased competition, more demanding customers—these all put pressure manufacturing businesses’ performance. Responding quickly to such challenges is key. But can your organization do this? While still keeping employees engaged and motivated?

At EBL, we are used to dealing with such situations. We know where to find the drivers for change in systems, processes, and people. Our approach combines a proven methodological approach with a strong human dynamics aspect—as well as digital, where it matters—to deliver an impact on both performance and people, assuring a long-lasting effect on manufacturing performance.

EBl will help you put better performance management systems in place to achieve this and hold the gains.

What Are the Stages of the Per­for­mance Man­age­ment Cycle?

The first stage of Arm­strong’s per­for­mance man­age­ment
cycle is the“Plan­ning” phase for the forth­com­ing peri­od. Plan­ning
should involve:

  • Agree­ing on SMART objectives

  • A per­son­al devel­op­ment plan

  • Actions to be tak­en in the com­ing months

  • A review of the employee’s job require­ments, updat­ing the role pro­file where necessary.

His­tor­i­cal­ly, organ­i­sa­tions tend­ed to car­ry out this plan­ning stage once a year. How­ev­er, with the busi­ness envi­ron­ment becom­ing increas­ing­ly agile and fast-mov­ing, many organ­i­sa­tions are adapt­ing their process­es to set“near-term”
objec­tives every three months. The organisation’s goals and val­ues should feed  into per­for­mance plan­ning to ensure that indi­vid­ualvper­for­mance aligns with the overall strategy of the organisation. Specif­i­cal­ly, each SMART objec­tive should con­tribute to achiev­ing one or more of the organisation’s goals. 

Per­son­al devel­op­ment plan­ning, mean­while, should con­sid­er what behav­iours, skills or knowl­edge the indi­vid­ual needs to devel­op to suc­cess­ful­ly achieve their objec­tives and uphold the organisation’s values.


Notice that in the above per­for­mance man­age­ment cycle, there are no arrows between the four stages. This is because, in real­i­ty, the stages do not flow one after the oth­er. Act and Track should be con­tin­u­ous through­out the year. Reviews may take place at any point, and plan­ning may take place sev­er­al times dur­ing the year and be re-vis­it­ed as the needs of the busi­ness change

Here is how this Con­tin­u­ous Per­for­mance Man­age­ment process typ­i­cal­ly looks in lead­ing organisations:

Per­for­mance Man­age­ment Process: The Basic Ele­ments Nec­es­sary for Effec­tive Per­for­mance Management

There are a few basic ele­ments involved in build­ing an effec­tive per­for­mance man­age­ment frame­work, including:

Set­ting Goals

You need to set goals the right way. They need to be mean­ing­ful and under­stood. Employ­ees should have con­text as to why these indi­vid­ual goals mat­ter and how they are fur­ther­ing organ­i­sa­tion­al objec­tives. Employ­ees will care much more about their roles and be much more engaged when they know — and tru­ly under­stand — how their job matters. 

Goal set­ting is and should be a col­lab­o­ra­tive process, which involves meet­ing with employ­ees and being trans­par­ent about com­pa­ny goals, direc­tion and obsta­cles. Armed with this infor­ma­tion, employ­ees can cre­ate goals which com­ple­ment organ­i­sa­tion­al objec­tives and make dai­ly deci­sions to fur­ther these objec­tives. Fur­ther­more, when employ­ees are put in the dri­ver’s seat and allowed to devel­op their own goals (before hav­ing them approved by their line man­ag­er), they expe­ri­ence a height­ened sense of auton­o­my and own­er­ship over their work. Inevitably, this results in improved employ­ee performance.

So What Exact­ly Is Effec­tive Employ­ee Per­for­mance Management?

Hav­ing all of the ele­ments of the per­for­mance man­age­ment cycle in place is very impor­tant, but this will not nec­es­sar­i­ly lead to effec­tive per­for­mance man­age­ment for your organ­i­sa­tion. There are many oth­er fac­tors in play, such as:

    • Hav­ing buy-in from lead­er­ship and senior man­age­ment to per­for­mance management

    • Ensur­ing the per­for­mance man­age­ment cycle is con­tin­u­ous and not an annu­al process

    • Ensur­ing per­for­mance con­ver­sa­tions and reviews are mean­ing­ful and not”tick-box” exercises

    • Imple­ment­ing easy to use performance management software which sup­ports effec­tive per­for­mance man­age­ment and gives you vis­i­bil­i­ty of per­for­mance man­age­ment activity

    • The skills and will­ing­ness of your man­agers to deliv­er effec­tive per­for­mance man­age­ment on a day-to-day basis.



Tra­di­tion­al­ly, organ­i­sa­tions have placed a lot of their empha­sis on the“Review” part of the cycle — often because a per­for­mance assess­ment is required for reward­ pur­pos­es. How­ev­er, we have always advised that it is the“Act” and“Track” stages that are the most impor­tant. These stages are where per­for­mance is actu­al­ly deliv­ered and results achieved. Indi­vid­u­als need to be encour­aged to sched­ule in reg­u­lar time to work on achiev­ing their objec­tives and per­son­al devel­op­ment plans.

Sim­i­lar­ly, man­agers need to be check­ing in with their staff reg­u­lar­ly. They must give fre­quent, effec­tive feed­back and use coach­ing skills to help their team mem­bers over­come chal­lenges and iden­ti­fy oppor­tu­ni­ties for learn­ing and per­for­mance improve­ment. If this is left until an end-of-year review, it is too late — objec­tives and devel­op­ment plans may end up only par­tial­ly achieved.

What Does the New Con­tin­u­ous Per­for­mance Man­age­ment Cycle Look Like?

Since 2015, this phi­los­o­phy of continuous performance management has been adopt­ed by lead­ing organ­i­sa­tions such as Deloitte, Adobe and General Electric. All these major names have ditched the tra­di­tion­al once-a-year per­for­mance appraisals in favour of reg­u­lar”check-ins” and fre­quent (or real-time) feedback. 

These reg­u­lar per­for­mance dis­cus­sions are typ­i­cal­ly devel­op­men­tal and future-focused. They pro­vide team mem­bers with an oppor­tu­ni­ty through­out the year to explore what has gone well and how suc­cess can be repli­cat­ed, any chal­lenges faced and how they may be over­come — and to agree on actions both the indi­vid­ual and man­ag­er need to take to devel­op the indi­vid­ual and fur­ther improve their per­for­mance. Such check-ins are also a great oppor­tu­ni­ty to address employ­ee devel­op­ment while offer­ing train­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties and reg­u­lar­ly rein­forc­ing per­for­mance expec­ta­tions.

Trans­par­ent Com­mu­ni­ca­tion and Collaboration 

Employ­ees want — and deserve — their man­agers and lead­ers to be open and authen­tic at all times. They don’t want to be kept in the dark when their com­pa­nies are going through hard times, espe­cial­ly in the midst of a COVID-19 pan­dem­ic. They want to be kept abreast of per­ti­nent infor­ma­tion. On top of this, they want real-time com­mu­ni­ca­tion while build­ing healthy rela­tion­ships with their col­leagues and man­agers. This will involve reg­u­lar feed­back and hon­est dis­cus­sion — even when such com­mu­ni­ca­tion is dif­fi­cult or uncomfortable. 

Employ­ee Recognition 

An effec­tive per­for­mance man­age­ment sys­tem should pri­ori­tise employ­ee recog­ni­tion and reward. Employ­ees should feel val­ued and appre­ci­at­ed for the work they do and the effort they put in. If employ­ee recog­ni­tion is not a pri­or­i­ty, this will most like­ly have a neg­a­tive bear­ing on your vol­un­tary turnover.

Hon­est and reg­u­lar feed­back and reviews are need­ed — the more fre­quent and pre­cise the feed­back, the bet­ter indi­vid­ual per­for­mance. It’s that sim­ple. Employ­ees want reg­u­lar insights into their work, and the bet­ter-informed employ­ees are regard­ing their per­for­mance, the bet­ter able they are to improve and excel.

Employ­ee Development 

No ambi­tious top per­former wants to remain at a com­pa­ny long-term with­out hon­ing and devel­op­ing skills. Advance­ment and devel­op­ment are impor­tant to employ­ees — not to men­tion, com­pa­nies stand to ben­e­fit when employ­ees are more skilled and capable.


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