The one crucial role nearly every C-Suite is missing
When you look around any boardroom, there are a number of executive roles you’d expect to see. The CEO, the CFO, the COO and — more recently — the CDO.
But there’s almost always one role which never features. And unlike the rest, it doesn’t begin with a ‘C’ and end with an ‘O’.
We’re talking about the Performance Director (PD).
What is a performance director?
The concept of a PD is still a fairly new one, more commonly associated with the world of sport. So let’s start there.
UK Sport rather eloquently describes PDs as “the architects and orchestrators of performance.” It’s their job to work with athletes, coaches, and organisations, setting out the overarching strategy for success, and then ensuring everything is in place in order to get there.
In other words, they drive long-term performance improvements.
Although these strategic leaders are driven “by a deep passion for a sport”, they also demonstrate a “genuine desire to help others achieve their full potential.” This boils down to a simple philosophy of ensuring that key objectives are being met and having the right impact.
What does that have to do with the C-Suite?
If it’s not immediately obvious how the PD role could translate towards a business environment, then here’s another interesting choice of words from UK Sport:
“In order to finance a comprehensive high performance programme, most PDs effectively run a multi-million pound business. They need to be skilled at securing resources, managing a sizeable budget and meeting the various processes and reporting requirements of investors, partners and providers.”
PDs may focus primarily on athletes, but the methods they use can work just as well in a business setting. Defining strategies, managing resources, conducting reports and optimising processes… you’re probably more likely to hear those words in the boardroom than on the football pitch.
If the Sports Performance Director turns the people they work with into serious competitors, then the Business Performance Director does exactly the same.
What would a Performance Director actually do?
PDs are an internal role, but their focus is on an enterprise level. It’s their job to ensure your whole business is set up to deliver its business objectives successfully.
- Implementing KPIs. Naturally, a PD’s first task should be defining your targets — whether that’s increased revenue, faster production, or something else entirely. Then it’s their job to track those targets and make sure your KPIs are being met.
- Working cross-functionally: It’s crucial that any chosen targets are aligned across all areas of your business. A PD works cross-functionally to remove silos and ensure that everything’s working together optimally.
- Refining strategies. PDs deal with the bigger picture. That means they should be reviewing all of your business-wide strategies, and aligning them so that they’re all working towards the KPIs above.
- Improving efficiency. It’s not just about dealing with theoretical strategies. A PD will also get stuck in the trenches, implementing processes and practical changes that simply make you more efficient.
- Utilising data. Any decision an organisation makes should be backed up by cold, hard data. A PD knows this, which is why they constantly collect and analyse better data, and use it to inform their strategic thinking.
- Spotting opportunities. A good PD should operate at an enterprise level, have cross-functional responsibilities, and think outside of the box to find opportunities for performance gain across all areas of your business.
- Achieving better results. The thing that distinguishes PDs is that they’re always looking to improve. Even when you hit your KPIs, they ask “how do we go one step further?” It’s this attitude which keeps your organisation driving towards better results.
When you put that all together, everything a PD does is geared towards optimising the conditions for success. And when you get those conditions right, success starts to come naturally.
The rest of your team can focus on doing what they do best (i.e. growing your business), safe in the knowledge that the business as a whole is operating at peak performance.
Which industries in particular would benefit from this role?
Manufacturing, engineering and retail businesses are the obvious examples. In many ways, the success of those kinds of organisations is dictated by their operational performance. Production costs, output quality and supply chain levels are all heavily impacted by the health and performance of the wider business.
Having someone in the senior team that’s dedicated towards monitoring and boosting that performance could therefore be invaluable.
Why don’t more C-Suites have a Performance Director?
The problem is twofold. First, the PD role is a relatively new concept that’s only just finding its place in the world of sport. As it generates more success for more and more athletes, then that’s when businesses will start to take notice.
But more importantly, it’s a case of resources and bandwidth. Executives already have enough on their plates. If they look at the bigger picture for too long, they’ll overlook the finer, day-to-day details.
The simple solution is to bring in an external expert who can do the hard yards for you. Someone who knows where to look in order to make effective improvements at speed, for better performance in the long-term.
That’s what we do at Hexagon. Our performance improvement experts integrate themselves into your business, understanding the targets that matter to you but also using our external perspective to identify the best opportunities for change.
What’s your challenge?
Tell us by filling in the following form, and let’s work it out. Together.