Planning – the payoff

Walk down any high street today, and the signs of impending Christmas retail madness are starting to appear. Initially, like everyone, I was irritated about being reminded of something I’d just as soon put off. But then I thought back to last year’s expensive last-minute panic and thought, hang on – do I really want to repeat that experience? I had to smile, given that in my professional career, this is what we help people do all of the time. In any training and development process, setting clear objectives and firm deadlines can make all the difference to success.

Sir John Harvey Jones says that “Planning is an unnatural process; it is more fun to do something. The nicest thing about not planning is that failure comes as a complete surprise, rather than being preceded by worry and depression.” This is a real problem for organisations, where there is often pressure to be seen to be doing something at all times. At MSA we emphasise that a ‘can do’ organisational culture fosters an effective blend of both planning and action.

Recently, we worked with a major manufacturer who showed us what clear goal-setting and effective planning could achieve. We were conducting a performance assessment using a 360 degree feedback tool for 150 managers. The project sponsor communicated clearly right from the start, and set up a realistic timescale for each phase of the review process. This made a real difference, but what helped us achieve such excellent results was the positive company culture. Everyone really bought into the process and wanted it to succeed.

This was our dream scenario. However, companies can often run into the nightmare situation. Sir John’s warning about poor planning rings true in these cases: managers often don’t ask for advice early on to establish exactly what the company needs; workers see the review process as a chore rather than a process that can help their careers; and companies look upon the planning of performance appraisal initiatives like early Christmas shopping: a daunting rather than liberating experience!

Our advice to companies is to give themselves an early Christmas present by concentrating on accurate, timely, and responsive communications processes. We help our clients plan their 360 review and team appraisals effectively to make these procedures less intimidating. If planned and well executed, performance reviews can help create a positive, forward looking organisational culture. In fact, clients are now asking us to help them with scheduling and pre-review briefing material in order to achieve optimised results so they can focus on other things – planning the company Christmas party, for example!


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