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Using Data To Improve Performance in Nonprofits: Part 2

Data & Relationship Management

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

The first post in this blog series provided a detailed review of performance management practices and listed the steps to implementing a performance management process.

This post provides recommendations for successfully implementing a performance management system in a diversely skilled team setting. 

This infographic and content originally appeard on Rutgers Online.

Using data to improve performance in nonprofits

Using data to improve performance in nonprofits

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


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.