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Using Data To Improve Performance in Nonprofits: Part 1

Data & Relationship Management

Rutgers University Online

This post is the first of two in our blog series about performance management.

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.  

This infographic and content originally appeard on Rutgers Online.


Using data to improve performance in nonprofits

Source: this infographic can be viewed in full on Rutgers Online.

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.

 The next post will provide recommendations for successfuly implementing a performance management system in a diversely skilled team setting.