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By Monica E. Oss

Successful performance management requires a team that is data-driven and agile. At OPEN MINDS, we created a field-tested process of taking management teams from strategy to data transparency—a process I presented during the Performance Management For The C-Suite: An Executive Briefing at the 2020 OPEN MINDS Performance Management Institute in Clearwater, Florida. Deploying data-driven management over time requires executive teams to shift focus, metrics, and measures as the market and strategies change (see Performance Management Is Never Done).

As a “numbers person”, I tend to think that anyone who gets data knows what to do with it—and will do it. However, that is often not the case as noted by my colleagues, OPEN MINDS Senior Associates Paul M. Duck and Lori Schmidt, J.D., whose input on our model added training, education, and technical assistance necessary to become a data-driven organization.

“Organizational leaders need to understand that setting up a culture to become data driven is not merely presenting reports to management and staff,” said Mr. Duck. “Most chief executive officers from our industry lack the training and experience with using key performance indicators (KPIs) and data at every level of their organizations. Instead they focus on bottom line financial results that can be very generic and lead to a misunderstanding about what specifics matter in navigating the substantial shift happening in the health care economy.”

Gaining Buy-In
Ms. Schmidt encourages a formal, organization-wide process for change management and staff buy in to measure performance. “Staff needs to accept the concept of data-driven management and understand which metrics are meaningful,” she explained. Addressing gaps in knowledge and ensuring that leaders understand how market changes affect culture is an essential part of data-driven models that should influence your implementation of performance-based compensation. Staff must agree that performance goals are achievable, and data should illustrate how changes in performance relates to organizational goals and their personal goals.

Ms. Schmidt had success sharing performance data with staff and connecting it with future reimbursement “so they could see how their income, in most cases, would remain the same.” Executives also sat down with staff members, “who we knew fell below standards to help them understand what was needed and explained that the purpose of a pay-for-performance approach was based on the organization’s mission to meet patients’ needs and that it optimized revenues by using organizational money to pay for production versus positions.”
She emphasizes the value of leadership chiming in when staff asked about quality. “We had data to support that at least 90% of staff were meeting goals and quality measures so we felt that the performance measures were achievable,” she explains. “As we had majority approval, with up to 10% of staff exceeding production, the groundswell of support overtook the naysayers and adoption went well.” Another key piece was providing staff with monthly progress reports.

Carol Clayton, Ph.D., general manager of population health for Relias, and my co-presenter at the institute, agrees that without appropriate education, culture change and staff buy-in, performance management initiatives become performance reporting only. Organization representatives are checking the box for having performance data, but not using it to influence performance and culture, she added.

As your organization embarks on the path to the performance management needed for strategic success and sustainability, don’t forget the shift in culture that happens along the way. For more on culture change and change management models, check out these resources in The OPEN MINDS Industry Library:

  1. A Data-Driven Culture: What It Is & Why It’s Important
  2. Creating A Culture Where Metrics-Based Management Can Succeed
  3. Is Your Culture Performance-Driven? Take The Test
  4. Culture Will Trump Strategy Every Time
  5. Why Non-Profits Should Run Culture Like A Project
  6. Competencies Without CultureA Fast Track To Failure
  7. Will Your Culture Eat Your Strategy For Lunch?
  8. Teamwork—Simple But Hard
  9. Is Your Culture Performance-Driven? Ask Yourself These Six Questions
  10. Performance Management Needs Performance-Driven Leaders

For more, join me on September 17 at The 2020 OPEN MINDS Executive Leadership Retreat for the session “Making Change Happen: Organizational Strategies For Managing In A Rapidly Changing Market”, led by OPEN MINDS Senior Associate Joseph P. Naughton-Travers, EdM.


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