Using Data To Improve Performance in Nonprofits

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Performance management can be viewed as a systematic process that enables organizations to improve the productivity of employees in a team framework. The approach is implemented by defining roles within specific competence parameters, laying out expectations and establishing realistic goals.

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Performance Management Overview

Human resource departments play an integral role in creating a productive work environment. Doing so fosters high performance and motivation. Performance management is a broader, more complex function that requires effective strategies. It involves key activities like continuous progress review, feedback, coaching, goal setting, frequent communication and incentives for achievements.

The concept requires managers to master the process and apply it consistently. The Federal Competency Assessment Tool – Management (FCAT- M) is used to assess specific supervision competencies. Performance management is one of the key competencies evaluated by the FCAT- M. Managers with a good grasp of this competency are well-equipped to focus employee productivity on achieving crucial individual and organizational objectives.

When it comes to planning, the manager should formulate working plans with the assistance of employees. This process entails establishing realistic and measurable operational goals that align with overall organizational plans. Employee progress must be continually monitored to manage performance. Doing so enables managers to make necessary corrections or adjust timeline, if necessary.

Steps To Nonprofit Performance Management

A significant number of nonprofits employ performance management on various levels. In some cases, the concept is implemented informally or under a different term. The approach ensures that managerial decisions have a direct bearing on the improvement of team and individual performance within an operational context.

Although performance measurement and management may seem straightforward, these two approaches require careful planning. This is determined by a number of factors.

Nonprofit organizations are committed to improving operational effectiveness, which allows them to deliver workable solutions to humanity’s most complex and critical problems. They have to enhance performance while dealing with many perennial challenges, such as high staff turnover, mission drift, excessive leadership demands and eternal fundraising issues.

Many experts recommend the use of consultants to implement an effective performance management approach. This has the capacity to help nonprofits to achieve their performance goals. Consultation makes it easier to improve participant outcomes, clarify mission objectives, identify key practices and measurable results.

Readiness For Performance Management Practice

Transitioning to a high-performance nonprofit requires some degree of readiness. Organizations must demonstrate a willingness to shift from past practices that hinder performance. Some entities may need help from third parties to recognize and move past these impediments. The organizations have to formulate a more effective strategy that promotes efficiency.

Leaders need to recognize their organization’s shortcomings in order to take the first step towards drastic operational changes. Doing so allows nonprofits to concentrate on improving participant outcomes. The leaders must be ready to handle a wide variety of implementation challenges.

However, senior management may have to deal with staff priorities and the decisions of funders. It is common for nonprofits to face resistance from some staff members or funders. The objections may revolve around focusing on a narrow target and the lack of a clear outcome sequence. In some cases, additional funds may be required to support key enhancements to the program.

Benefits And The Dynamics Of Team-Based Performance Management

When a group of people works closely to interpret data, they draw conclusions based on their experiences. This can allow them to unearth a wider set of possible explanations when compared to a single analyst. The interpretation of data must be synchronized to provide accurate information to action planning.

On the other hand, team-based performance management may not be ideal for every nonprofit organization. Some of the key issues to consider in this regard include the potential culture shift and time commitment.

Identifying Goals

Identifying goals is a key aspect of developing a performance management strategy. The approach helps staff, board members and stakeholders to create a universal blueprint for the implementation process. The board outlines long-term goals, which will be segmented into short-term targets. In turn, teams should compile a list of priorities that can be monitored on a weekly, monthly or quarterly basis.

To ensure successful implementation, the goals must be appropriate to the team’s activity level and frequency of meetings. It is also important to avoid considering goals that force the nonprofit to creep from its mission.

The objectives can be stated at the executive level and long-term basis if the board convenes meetings quarterly or semi-annually. By contrast, an organization that meets more frequently can set short-term goals.

Typically, it is the executive level that sets longer-term targets while the leadership team level sets medium-term goals. The project or program level establishes short-term objectives.

When an organization’s goals become infinite or short-term, they can take a more well-defined form. They create a crucial link between the measurable actions and the long-term objectives.

Creating Accountability

Goals must be assigned to teams or individual to create accountability. The responsibility comes with appropriate authority relevant to human and financial resources. Assigning goals without the authority to implement the required actions does not improve performance.

Some assignments are best handled by teams rather than individuals. These types of assignments usually cross between departments and programs.

All team members must be adequately prepared to perform their roles to ensure a successful outcome on a particular goal. Individuals designated the title of goal owner can collaborate with their teams to define and clarify roles. They have to identify additional point people that can handle specific tasks with the aim to accelerate the implementation of the objectives.

Performance agreements are a practical way to ensure accountability. They can be created in partnership between individual team members and managers. Performance plans, on the other hand, outline the goals that managers should accomplish. Individual performance is often reviewed using self-assessments, which can be carried out formally and informally.

The strategic plan is best posted in public spaces as a means to provide reminders to teams about the operational targets. Some of the goals should be posted on internal blogs or as checklists on whiteboards in meeting rooms. The lists provide a viable way to track progress.