Archive for the ‘Performance’ Category

Management consultants of all varieties enjoy ongoing debate about the value of performance review at the workplace. Concepts are not difficult to agree upon but as managers on the front lines will tell you, implementation is fraught with land mines.

For instance, yesterday the New York Times had an interactive graph that showed top pay for CEO’s alongside performance indicators. Who is not attracted to the idea of linking pay to performance indicators and putting it all in a chart? This is wildy seductive. But here we have an instructive lesson in the failure of performance indicators to provide a strong link to pay.  James Kwak, writing for Baseline Scenario in a piece he titles Two Things That Have Nothing to Do with Each Other, shows us a chart that is perplexing at best.

Still, we persist, and why not?  Personally, I know the performance indicators that relate to my pay. Hard performance indicators may relate to length of client relationships, repeat engagements and growth in terms of return on my investment of time and effort.  Softer performance measures relate to understanding client needs, reading the business environment, and making things happen. This is true whether we are talking individuals, teams or organizations: competencies undergird the ability to produce hard performance outcomes.

All too often, constraints beyond our control (such as a major downturn in the economy) will prevent us from performing to our maximum capability. In such cases, hard performance indicators fall flat, and competencies become a better barometer.  Except now the best measure of performance will be how flexible, adaptable or innovative we can be in a time of change.

Or, in another vein, a sudden upswing, or windfall of unexpected gains cause us to shift in a completely new directon. Again, the hard performance measure miss their mark because the outcomes will appear glorious, even if under the surface, rampant wastefulness and political squabbling paralyze any real progress or success.

So, what do we do, oh wise one of the universe, out there somewhere, we ask? Hang tight, and we will sort through some innovative ways tackle this conundrum. Your input is always welcome.


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