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Nov 19, 2015
This article is part of a series called How-Tos.

Note: In this four part series, Kim Shepherd details how her agency, Decision Toolbox, uses a performance driven workforce model to achieve success. In part one she explained the essentials of the PDW model and how it is used at Decision Toolbox. Last week, Shepherd discussed the five principles of the performance driven workforce. The final part of the series will post next Thursday.

Performance driven logoFirst things first: the performance-driven workforce (PDW) model is NOT about outcomes. It is about process. Some leaders may say, “Sales are down, so we need a performance plan to drive sales up.” Makes sense, right? Well, not for PDW. Positive outcomes will follow, but for PDW to work, you need to focus on the process.


Think about the low sales example as a drought. You need rain. But rain doesn’t come because plants are thirsty. Rain comes because water evaporates into vapor, then condenses in clouds and falls. Dreaming about lush plants won’t bring the rain — concentrate on the mechanics.


Not What Has but What Will Happen


Culture is a passion of mine, and it plays an essential role in PDW. But at a fundamental level, PDW is mechanical. A robust culture ensures that your people never feel like cogs, but the mechanics of PDW help ensure performance throughout all processes. In this model, performance is not what has happened, but what you want to happen, every day, for each and every project.


In the traditional view, processes are series of action steps, but in implementing PDW you should think in terms of building a seamless conveyor belt. The belt integrates performance, from qualifying a potential new client through executing each engagement to promoting a long-term partnership with the client.

Seeds Puts Performance First

For example, at Decision Toolbox (DT), we recently developed a customer relationship management (CRM) tool called Seeds. Most sales teams manage their pipeline with a goal of making each prospect a client, at which point performance kicks in. Seeds let us manage the pipeline as if each prospect is already a client, with performance in the driver’s seat from the beginning.


Calling it Seeds reminds us that the harvest is just the outcome. Farmers don’t wake up every morning and pick fruit. Day in and day out they focus on the process of nurturing the seeds and the plants, so that come fall, the harvest will be bountiful.


With Seeds we also capture valuable intelligence about any potential client or project from the beginning, and (this is the important part) that intelligence flows into the onboarding process, invoicing, operations, project team assignments, work plans, sourcing strategy, quality control, customer satisfaction, client retention and more.


Performance Wants To Break


Be careful as you build your conveyor belt. There are a thousand points where performance can fail. You have to anticipate those points and boil out the margin for error. This is where the mechanical aspect of PDW is invaluable, and where a great technology team can shine. Technology is the waffle batter that will flow into the gaps and lock down the weak points on your conveyor belt.


PDW demands real-time financial information, so if you don’t already have an internal organizational system, get one. Find an integration system that works for your company to streamline everything. Operations should integrate directly with accounting, for example, so you don’t have to wait until the 10th for last month’s results. Get your tech team to provide you with dashboards that show you the financials you need right now, whether it is 10:30 a.m. or 10:30 p.m.


Don’t rely on an off-the-shelf, expensive Enterprise Resource Planning system (ERP) to mix your waffle batter for you — PDW is very intentional. We might even call it Performance Deliberate Workforce. For example, at DT, our ERP/ATS/CRM is Recruiting Machine, a software-as-a-service product we developed internally.


For our internal use, we made sure not only that it’s easy to customize pricing and compensation, but also that these customizations integrate across accounting, payroll and operations.

Tom Brennan, senior writer, contributed to this article.

Copyright: dskdesign / 123RF Stock Photo




This article is part of a series called How-Tos.
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