An important step towards achieving a strategic dynamic in your organization is the conducting of periodic meetings for the critical analysis of organizational performance, called Monthly Management Assessments, MMAs, or Critical Performance Analysis Meetings, CPAMs.
Analyzing performance critically is verifying if the results achieved in the previous month, as evidenced by the indicators, reached agreed goals. When goals have not been reached, the task is to identify what caused the shortfall — the root cause and the actions that can add value, in order to improve organizational performance.
It is during this meeting, therefore, that top management evaluates the results achieved according to the main performance indicators of the company, in order to discuss: measures to be implemented to reverse any negative results; the events that may have caused the poor performance of some indicators; their causes; and the actions that must be implemented.
Top management analyzes the indicators to see if the proposed strategic objectives, agreed during strategic planning, are moving towards being achieved. Thus, it is possible to know in which points the actions performed did not have the desired effect or achieved results different from expected.
Why should we conduct critical performance review meetings?
We must perform CPAMs to analyze performance exclusively, and to discuss important organizational information that goes unperceived during day-to-day operations, and the next steps to be taken.
In order for the meeting to be a success, it is important that it be planned and conducted well.
Let’s talk first about planning.
Planning initially involves confirming the date, time, and location of the meeting. It is important to send participants the invitation and to verify that necessary resources are available, such as computers, systems, network, etc.
The next step is to determine the results of the month in question, usually the month prior to the CPAM, feed the indicators into the dashboard system used by the company, and check the consistency of the results.
I witnessed a great deal of embarrassment in one meeting, when three managers, who used in the denominator of their respective indicators the number of employees of the company, presented different numbers; to make matters worse, not one of the numbers used matched the data presented by the HR manager.
It is important that the data collection for the indicators be carried out in advance, so that there is enough time to identify possible inconsistencies, as well as to analyze the indicators in advance. If the goal has not been reached, you need time for due diligence. This is what some call “developing FCA,” fact-cause-action. With this done in advance you decrease the chances dear old Dr. Murphy will drop in during your performance review meeting.
Murphy’s Law that “anything that can go wrong will go wrong” ought to be amended: it will do so in the worst possible way, at the worst possible time, causing the greatest possible damage!
I have often seen data being inputted on the eve of a meeting. The main consequence of this is that managers do not have time to identify inconsistencies and, above all, the causes of a possible low performance of an indicator vis-à-vis the established goal.
It is important to have reliable data to conduct a critical review meeting. There is no way to critically analyze a performance indicator with partial or inconsistent data; nor when the problem is partially known; nor when its environment is unknown, be it economic, political, social, etc. After all, evaluating the positive and negative impacts of a decision is part of a well-conducted critical analysis.
With regard to the meeting itself, I would like to highlight a few points.
First in relation to frequency and duration.
Ideally, meetings should be monthly and preferably take place in the first half of the month, after the results of the goals have been determined. It should be remembered that we are still analyzing the previous month and in the meantime much is happening in the environment and market. With regard to duration, meetings should not last longer than 3 or 4 hours, as the level of attention and engagement falls as time goes by.
Who should attend?
At the outset, the managers involved in managing results should participate in the CPAM. That is, the managers who own the goals should participate (at most about 6 to 8 goals for each manager), as well as the principal people involved in improvement actions and planned projects.
Another step is choosing who will lead the meeting.
Whether it is an internal manager or an external consultant, it is important that the person motivate and encourage participants to reflect and debate, maintaining a harmonious climate in which all participants have the opportunity to express themselves. It is also the role of the facilitator to ensure that the discussion of results is not lost. Other issues unrelated to performance management should be addressed at another time.
The meeting should be opened by the principal executive of the organization. This opening should not exceed between 10 and 15 minutes.
After opening, it is time to start presenting the indicators and established goals. Each manager responsible for goals must present his or her results:
- results, cumulative figures, and established goals in spreadsheets and graphs;
- deviations, if any;
- what is being done to improve performance;
- a synthesis of strategic action plans and projects; and
- the lessons are being learned and how the team is absorbing this information to manage indicators.
The presentation of each manager should not exceed 20 minutes. For this time not to be exceeded, it is important to focus the presentation above all on the indicators that were more than 5% below target.
Different from how many managers act in these meetings, indicators whose goal has been met or exceeded should be discussed only summarily. Exaggerated emphasis on satisfactory outcomes may compromise the required dedication to indicators whose goals have not been met or prolong the meeting unnecessarily.
It is important that minutes be drawn up to record the main points discussed at the meeting for future consultation by those who participated and by managers who could not be present.
The results meeting should be finalized by the chief executive present with a quick summary of key analyses and decisions taken (corrective actions). A final message is important, directing attention to the next challenges within the business context, the goals of the year and the next period, and the values of the company.
The meeting ends with a plan of improvements needed to achieve a higher degree of performance in the various indicators. Also discussed are the resources and investments needed to achieve better results.
With these tips, it’s time to make the whole team thrive on performance meetings, focus on goals, and increasingly understand how management techniques can transform a company’s ability to execute.
So, manager, take advantage of critical performance analysis as a time to add value to the organization and feed the strategic planning process back by making the necessary adjustments.
Have a great meeting!