Managing to make performance discussable?


What constitutes effective and ineffective performance is usually well understood collectively within organisations but it is not always discussable because it has not been specified in a form that makes it safe for managers to confront poor performance and recognise and praise effective performance.  This leads to underperformance and poor morale as ineffective behaviour is seen by everyone but not tackled.

Critical incidence interviews with staff and management focus in on events that either add or destroy value and enable those behaviours that really make the difference in a role stand out.  Behaviours are then clustered into groups that list effective and ineffective action.  If the competencies are issued to the relevant staff, changes in behaviour take place quite rapidly as people realise that their behaviour is being monitored against a prescribed list of productive and unproductive activities.  Performance issues are depersonalised through this process as the focus shifts from “good” and “bad” behaviour to effectiveness.

Managers, who despair when ineffective behaviour becomes commonplace, need to ask themselves whether or not effective behaviour is actually well understood.  What is “obvious” to one person is often far from clear to another.

It is people’s behaviour in the workplace that makes the difference between success and failure.  All the other resources (capital, buildings, equipment, know-how) in an organisation are made useful through what people do.

Everyone wants to know that their work makes a difference and adds value; it really is rare that people want to destroy value deliberately.  Focusing on value and the behaviour that creates it is a great way of driving performance upwards and onwards.

Questions for managers in this area include:

  1. Is effective behaviour clearly specified and communicated?
  2. Are the top performers recognised for what they do?
  3. Is ineffective behaviour confronted so that it can be replaced by productive action?
  4. When something great happens, has it been analysed so that the behaviour that led to the result can be replicated?

PS This is by far and away the most popular of my blogs.

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