Performance Management in Developing Future Leaders

By: Sattar Bawany, Managing Director, EDA Asia Pacific & C-Suite Master Executive Coach

Performance Management in Developing Future Leaders

“In the literature and research on leadership transitions and helping high potentials and future leaders to accelerate themselves into new roles, early findings indicate that new leaders gain leverage by putting in place the right strategies, structures, and systems, including performance management. Transitions could be viewed as an engineer would approach a challenging design problem: advising leaders to identify the right goals, developing a supporting strategy, aligning the architecture of the organization, and figuring out what projects to pursue to secure early wins.

Performance Coaching is about creating the capacity for appreciative and supportive interaction that leads to the achievement of individual performance and business results. Effective coaching conversation sets the stage for significant discussion about issues of leadership development, personal and organizational change and creating capability for future or next-generation leaders (including high potentials) with enhanced emotional and social competence.

– Prof. Sattar Bawany (2019)

Transforming the Next Generation of Leaders: Developing Future Leaders for a Disruptive, Digital-Driven Era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0)

How do we manage performance within the organization? The most common part of the process and the one with which we are most familiar is the process of the performance appraisal or evaluation.

However, the performance appraisal process is not the only thing that’s done in performance management. Performance management is the process of identifying, measuring, managing and developing the performance of the human resources in an organization. Basically, we are trying to figure out how well employees perform and then to ultimately improve that performance level. When used correctly, performance management is a systematic analysis and measurement of worker performance (including communication of that assessment to the individual) that we use to improve performance over time.

Performance and Managerial Coaching is about developing and maximizing an individual employee’s potential which will consequently impact positively on the organization’s performance. It is about more inquiry (ask) and less advocacy (tell) which means helping that individual to learn rather than teaching. Coaching sets out to embrace the employee as an individual and understands the organizational context in which the employee operates. It seeks to achieve alignment between the individual employee, team and organizational goals.

In today’s business context, the importance and practice of managerial coaching are changing. Once focused primarily on improving the performance of employees who have fallen below standard or on providing opportunities for those with the highest potential, coaching now plays an expanded role, due to a greater appreciation of the value of an organization’s knowledge and human capital. To achieve critical results and remain competitive, organizations now see coaching not only to shape individual performance but also, increasingly, to build broader organizational capacity.

The ADAM Coaching Methodology (Figure 1) developed by the Centre for Executive Education (CEE) is a structured approach for executive coaching which can be adapted for performance and managerial coaching.  This consists of a four-step process that is firmly grounded in leadership development best practices.

Figure 1:

ADAM Coaching Model

ASSESS

DISCOVERY

  • Meetings are scheduled to review the assessment data.
  • The Coachee will be provided with feedback based on the results of the assessments that have been undertaken.
  • Development objectives are discussed between the Coachee and the coach to link the feedback received, with the agreed business goals and professional objectives.
  • Based on the key objectives identified, coaching activities and timelines are developed jointly between the Coachee and coach.
  • The Coachee, with the support of the coach, will develop an Action Plan that will enable Coachees to determine what to do to close the gaps in their leadership capability.
  • The coach and Coachee form a working alliance where the coach provides the stimulus and environment for the Coachee who will write the action plan.
  • The plan is formalized and shared by the Coachee with the sponsor for agreement and support of the action plan and expected development outcomes.
  • The sponsor will sign off the Development Plan to ensure that there is alignment to the business objectives.

ACTION PLAN

  • The Coachee will implement the Development Plan by taking well-defined action steps and regular feedback during scheduled monthly coaching sessions with the coach, which enables the Coachee to move toward measurable goals.
  • “Shadowing” or observation of the Coachee at work (as needed and if appropriate).
  • Specific actions are taken to develop the key skills and knowledge agreed to in the development plan. These actions may include:
  • Behavior modification and efforts to use new behaviors.
  • Building new skills and competencies while refining others.
  • Developing key relationships within the sponsoring organization.
  • Communication strategies for successful networking and being an ambassador for the sponsoring organization.
  • The sponsor and coach communicate, in person, by phone, or through email, to discuss specific situations and maintain focus on the objectives of the development plan.
  • There is also an opportunity for contact with the sponsor to monitor progress, as defined within the parameters of the sponsoring organization’s/coach confidentiality agreement.

MEASURE

  • A full evaluation of the coaching process and engagement based on the agreed success metrics at the beginning of the assignment yields objective measures of business results and professional outcomes for both the organization and the Coachee.
  • Periodically, and at the completion of the coaching program, the Coachee and the coach will discuss progress against the plan and determine action plans as appropriate.
  • A final tripartite coaching meeting will be held, where the results of the coaching engagement will be presented to the sponsor.
  • The recommended next step for the continuous professional development of the Coachee will be discussed and agreed upon with the sponsor.
  • The consistent ADAM coaching delivery methodology ensures that every Coachee receives the same degree of insightful business analysis, personalized consideration, and performance-driven priority.

The following Case Study illustrates how the ADAM coaching methodology has been successfully applied in the development of the NextGen leaders.

The Situation: Leading in a Multigenerational Workplace

A high-potential manager belonging to Generation X (born between 1964 and 1979) was promoted to the role of vice-president of operations at a major pharmaceutical organization. The manager was armed with a solid record of success in his previous role where a hands-on, controlling style with staff direct reports was an effective managerial tool. However, in his new position where he faced broad operational responsibilities, the manager needed to lead cross-functionally by bringing together departments throughout the organization including finance, marketing, distribution, and technical operations. The make-up of employees from these various functions is those of Generation Y (born between 1980 and 1995).

With significantly more Gen Yers under his leadership, the manager’s communication style was soon found to be confrontational and abrasive and often prevented him from building trusting relationships with his newly formed management team. His style also jeopardized negotiations with existing and potential key business alliances. Several of the senior management team members perceived that the manager as unwilling or unable to adapt to his new role. It was soon apparent that if left unchecked, the situation could impact the manager’s career and the corporation’s strategic objectives. Not counting the loss of productivity, the staff replacement costs alone are expected to be substantial.

The Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) recommended to the CEO that an external executive coach will be a useful resource toward addressing the managerial challenges faced by this newly promoted manager. The CEO, upon reviewing the business case put up by the CHRO and the HR Business Partner, agreed to the engagement of an executive coach.

Coaching Strategy: Assessment, Feedback, Development of New Behavioral Skills

During the first stage of the coaching process, the manager completed a group of assessments including a 360-degree leadership effectiveness profile to provide objective information about his communication and leadership style. Feedback from peers and direct reports, combined with constructive communication from the CEO, provided a clear insight into style, competencies, and behaviors. This data enabled the manager to see the impact his behavior had on others, and how it could impact his success in building relationships and reaching business outcomes.

A developmental plan was written by the manager and reviewed with his executive coach to address gaps in areas of communication and strategic leadership. More effective techniques and approaches were role-played with the coach, and the manager was encouraged to use these new behaviors in the team and individual meetings with his boss, peers, and direct reports. He also began to use them with business associates outside the organization. The coaching goal was to increase the manager’s effectiveness in all his business endeavors and to increase his ability to improve the organization’s success through leading and engaging his team in a much more effective manner than before.

Results: Tremendous Improvement in the Leader’s Communication Style Observed

Key sensitive strategic alliances were successfully negotiated, resulting in a considerable new and sustained business opportunity. The manager was better able to communicate with and facilitate information transfer among his team of primarily Gen Yers. Over a duration of 3 months, he was able to transform them into a high-performance team. A follow-up 360-degree leadership assessment was conducted where a positive change in the manager’s leadership style was perceived at all levels and stakeholders.

Due to the success of this coaching intervention, executive coaching is being used more broadly as a tool to enhance leadership development among the next generation and future leaders including the high-potential talents throughout the organization while nurturing external business alliances resulting in the achievements of both tactical and strategic objectives of the organization.

Reflection Questions for Development of Next Generation of Leaders

What assessment processes and coaching activities/techniques are best suited for the development of the next generation of future leaders including high potentials talent?

How can executive and transition coaching best relate to other forms of leadership development for next-generation leaders such as job rotation, task force assignments, and classroom-based ­executive education?

How long should transition coaching engagement last? How frequently should executives and coaches meet to achieve the desired outcomes with specific issues and within particular organizational contexts?

How should the organization monitor the executive, the coach, the coaching process, and coaching outcomes with the view to assess the effectiveness of the coaching engagement?

The development of the next generation of leaders includes the process of transitioning them effectively into a leadership position. This could be smoother if new leaders develop a sense of optimism and monitor and manage their outlook and perspective. Executive or transition coaching, leadership training, executive education, tools, and systems are very important. However, without the right outlook, new and even veteran leaders will experience serious difficulties and unrest.

The new leaders need to reflect on and examine their own leadership attitude and perspective and develop a plan to work on areas that need improvement. Whether a manager is moving into a new position or looking to get back on the road to success, executive or transition coaching can work to bring out the best in the new leaders through the support of a professional relationship. The relationship must be built on a foundation of trust and confidentiality. The ability of coaches to provide leaders as an outside resource that can also act as a sounding board can help them become the successful leaders they were meant to be.

Organizations must clearly define the purpose of coaching, gauge the process, and evaluate the results. Coaching is not just about providing support. Ultimately, coaching should deliver what any business needs—real results.

About the Author:

Professor Sattar Bawany is the Managing Director & C-Suite Master Executive Coach with Executive Development Associates (EDA) in Asia Pacific. He is also the Chief Executive Officer of the Centre for Executive Education (CEE). EDA is the Strategic Partner of Centre for Executive Education (CEE) in offering a suite of Executive Development solutions in the Asia Pacific region.

Prof. Bawany is also an Adjunct Professor of Leadership and member of the Advisory Board of the Curtin Graduate School of Business (CGSB) of Curtin University, Australia.

His latest book on “Transforming NextGen Leaders: Meeting the Leadership Challenges in the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0)” was recently published by Business Expert Press (BEP) LLC in New York in July of 2019.