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Performance Management/STAT Program

By Penny Macias | July 16, 2015

What is Performance Management? What is a STAT Program? Are these just the current trendy buzzwords for doing what we already do?

According to Wikipedia, performance management "includes activities which ensure goals are consistently being met in an effective and efficient manner...[and] can focus on the performance of an organization, a department, employee, or even the processes to build a product or other services."

A STAT program is a management and leadership approach to performance management which uses statistics in a meeting setting to regularly review performance of an organization, agency or a work group. Meetings are held at a frequency that makes sense for the size and makeup of the STAT team. The goal of this program is to improve performance and enhance accountability of managers and directors by providing them with sufficient direction, discretion and resources.

In normal terms, performance management is an approach to leadership and a STAT program or STAT meeting is a tool used in that approach. What are the necessary elements for success in performance management and a STAT program?

  1. Clearly identify the goals of the team. Set S.M.A.R.T. goals. Involve your team in as much of the goal-setting process as possible. If you're the leader of the team, regularly remind everyone of what they're working toward. Use conversations or even pictures as examples of what "success" looks like in the team. If you're on the team and aren't sure what the goals are, then ask. If there are multiple goals and you don't know which is the most important, then ask. Every leader is responsible for sharing the vision and mission of the team. And every team member is responsible for their level of understanding.
  2. Clearly identify what factors will determine success or failure for the team. The goal, "eliminate backlog of applications" is clear enough. However, how soon do you need to eliminate the backlog? Is it next year or in the next six years? How many applications do you have to clear per week or month to make that happen? Don't assume everyone has the same idea of success. Some team members may consider making it to their desk in the morning a success. If you as a leader expect more from them, then say so. Don't withhold goals out of fear they'll only work to the level to meet the goal.
  3. Track the factors you've identified. Plus, track more information if you want to be forward looking. Once you've determined what you'll track, clearly assign the task of tracking the information to a specific person or group. Agree on the method of tracking, where the information will be stored, and the timeframe for when information has to be updated.
  4. Analyze the information. Every time you report data, see how on-track you are to meet your goals. If the goal is to eliminate 1,000 backlogged files in 12 months, and you do 80 in January and 12 in February, then you aren't on track at the rate you're going. Does that mean you're failing? Not necessarily. You may know a new employee will start in March who could do 100/month. If not, you have the ability to analyze and determine
  5. how much more you need to do in the remaining 10 months to meet your goal.
  6. Meet and discuss. Plan regularly scheduled meetings with a consistent agenda. The agenda should include looking at progress-to-date, trends of data, discussion of resources needed, and roadblocks/problems. Meeting participants must include stakeholders who care about the outcome, plus a committed leader and team members.
  7. Show up to the meeting. Be prepared to discuss the information with team members. Don't cram the day before the meeting. Pay attention to information regularly so you know it well. As questions arise, listen and make notes so you can follow up with answers before the next meeting. Anticipate the questions that others may have and be prepared to answer. Don't just show up to a meeting with a "Let's see how this goes" mentality. The meeting can be a complete waste of time/money if there isn't enough information. Decisions can't be made either.
  8. Use information to take action. If you're half-way through the year and not half-way to your goal, decide how to handle the rest of the year. Perhaps you can re-assign someone long enough to meet the target. However, this action will depend on many factors. The point is, if you see you aren't going to make your goal and do nothing to overcome that trend, you're not engaging in performance management.
  9. Show respect and celebrate together. Establish ground rules for STAT meetings that everyone is expected to follow. It shouldn't be necessary to tell adult professionals to pay attention and avoid texting, personal attacks, rolling their eyes, or speaking over each other, etc. As a leader, make it clear you won't tolerate these behaviors. As a team member, don't engage in it. Respect every member of the team and celebrate the wins together. Show good stats when you have them. Congratulate those who made them happen.

Performance Management and STAT programs are not just for executive-level teams. They're how healthy teams, at all levels, keep the ball moving toward the goal. If your team already has these types of meetings and would like to share more about how they work, please let me know.  The MAAP hopes to bring training soon on how to run these programs. If you'd like to be involved in the training team, or offer your team as an example, please let me know.