Dr.John Sullivan, Professor, Corporate Speaker and Advisor

Performance Management Interview with Dr.John Sullivan, Professor, Corporate Speaker and Advisor - GroSum TopTalkDr. John Sullivan is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley. Specializing in strategic Talent Management solution. He is a prolific author with over 900 articles and 10 books covering all areas of Talent Management. Along with his many articles and books, Dr. Sullivan has written over a dozen white papers, conducted over 50 webinars, dozens of workshops and has been featured in over 35 videos. He is an engaging corporate speaker who has excited audiences at over 300 corporations/organizations in 30 countries on all 7 continents. His ideas have appeared in every major business source including the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, BusinessWeek, Fast Company, CFO, Inc., NY Times, SmartMoney, USA Today, HBR and the Financial Times. In addition, he writes for the WSJ Experts column and the LinkedIn Talent blog. Dr. Sullivan has been interviewed on CNN and the CBS and ABC nightly news, NPR, as well many local TV and radio outlets.

Fast Company called him the “Michael Jordan of Hiring”, Staffing.org called him “the father of HR metrics” and SHRM called him “One of the industries most respected strategists”. He was selected among HR’s “Top 10 Leading Thinkers” and was ranked #8 among the top 25 online influencers in Talent Management.  Adding to these acclamations, Dr. Sullivan has also served as the Chief Talent Officer of Agilent Technologies, the HP spinoff with 43,000 employees as well as becoming the CEO of the Business Development Center, a minority business consulting firm in Bakersfield, California. Dr. Sullivan is currently a Professor of Management at San Francisco State (1982 – present). Most importantly, he wants to hear and respond to your most pressing questions about advanced talent strategies.

His articles can be found all over the Internet and on his popular website www.drjohnsullivan.com and on www.ERE.Net. He lives in Pacifica, California.


How important is Performance Management (P.M.) in today’s high-flux organization?

·       Continually increasing performance is essential in a fast-moving competitive global world. Current firm performance and innovation may even be more important than a company’s brand.

·       What could be more important than increasing the ROI of the highest cost item in corporate variable expenses? People costs are 60% of corporate variable costs?

·       Managers and HR also need to know how to improve innovation, which may even have a higher impact than traditional employee performance.

·       I rate performance management as the #1 most poorly managed HR program

·       Since the required skills needed and the tools required for productivity constantly change, the way we manage performance also needs to change constantly.

Whose responsibility is Performance Management?

·       First of all, every individual employee should own it and be responsible for it. Every employee should have clear performance goals and be measured by how well their goals are met.

·       Next, the direct manager needs to be constantly monitoring and improving performance. They need to be experts in improving performance.

·       And overall, HR needs to be responsible for identifying the most effective ways of increasing employee performance. But in addition to standard performance management HR needs to be hiring, retaining and developing people that perform above average.

What are the key gaps in current industry practices in managing employees’ performance?

·       Quantifying the dollar impact that performance management programs have on revenues

·       Most firms, unfortunately, don’t require performance be quantifiably measured on every job

·       Most performance appraisal is fatally flawed because it is simply a group of opinions from one person at the end of a long year

·       It must be data-driven, so performance appraisal should instead be called performance counting

·       Measuring the percentage of improvement in performance after participating in performance management program

·       Few measure the performance of new-hires to determine if hiring is effective

·       Managers don’t take responsibility for performance management. Instead, they shift the ownership to HR.

·       Performance management is one of the most undermanaged HR functions

·       Self-monitoring by individual employees is seldom possible

·       Individual employee performance measurement is not directly connected to a business unit or strategic corporate goals

·       Performance reviews must be data driven based on performance data, but it is subjective, and there is no evidence that it predicts future success within the corporation

Should Development discussions be de-linked from Performance Reviews?

·       Everything in business must be inter-related, so performance management is not exempt

·       Of course, reviews must be linked to development, promotion, discipline, and pay

What makes a really effective P.M. programme? Any best practices to share.

·       It quantifies in dollars its business impacts

·       All program decisions in performance management are made based on data

·       Performance management metrics aren’t just historical, but they are also forward-looking projections so that managers can know who has a positive trajectory

·       The program prioritizes the highest impact jobs and individuals

·       Programs provide continual feedback and constructive criticism

·       HR data shows managers which tools increase productivity

·       Poor performance must actually lead to employee termination, and especially when worker skills become permanently obsolete

·       When assessing performance capabilities, programs must be able to compare the performance of robots and machine learning to the performance of people

·       Rather than covering only a single year, a manager is provided with multiyear performance trends and performance comparisons between other employees.


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