Jun 28

Focus, Consensus, and Trust by Performance Management

Stephan Polomski
Stephan Polomski is director human resources, coach and trainer

These days, talking about performance management, I am wondering if the performance management system most of us know and practice is the right approach in order to foster high and excellent work outcome within the strategy channel. In many cases it comes with a management by objectives checking strategic fit and a behavioral part checking cultural fit. With a feed-back and a feed-forward managers and employees try to find focus and consensus.

My blogging partner Heinz Landau just presented a strengths-based performance interview in his last blog based on principles known from positive psychology and even systemic coaching which is focusing on resources and solutions.

What would be the requirements of a useful performance management in our complex corporate worlds?

For me, this is simplicity, easy execution, transparency and trust generation.

One of the most striking suggestions I came across Fredmund Malik gives in his book “Managing Performing Living – Effective Managing for a New Area”. He proactively says: a blank sheet of paper.

A blank sheet of paper leaves space for simplicity, for transparency and for individuality. It is easy to handle and generates trust, as long as the managing leader has a clear strategic concept himself. – - For monitoring performance and much more: fostering, enhancing, inspiring performance in a world of complexity we need simplicity and transparency and individuality.

One blank sheet must be enough to unfold a corporate strategy like a compass embraces stars and earthly path. Executing strategy as managing performance should be – on their meta-levels – so simple, that managers and employees know them as a navigation system by heart finding their ways on their own.

And here, delegation and responsibility as a general management attitude come into play once trust is granted. In other words, we need corporate systems designed to balance themselves – and this requires a high level of responsibility and trust and delegation and thus a performance management, which enhances self balanced systems. This is true for employees, teams, departments, business units, subsidiaries. The strategy is just the umbrella covering a high level of individuality and diversity just managing what is really necessary.

The traditional performance management system appears often dull in the perception of all participating parts as it often suggests a standard which claims to be the right one for every context and individual. And this cannot work. At least it cannot for excellent people. It cannot be truly motivating because these requirements are captivating my own personal identity, individuality and values, especially in the behavioral part. I feel forced so how should this tool create a platform of belonging, motivation and security bound to grow.

“Under a strategic umbrella and under a cultural umbrella, which both offer a wide range of personal freedom, integrity and a perspective for accomplishment will be able to realize focus and consensus as well as trust on the individual and on the corporate level.”

Under a strategic umbrella and under a cultural umbrella, which both offer a wide range of personal freedom, integrity and a perspective for accomplishment will be able to realize focus and consensus as well as trust on the individual and on the corporate level.

This approach requires a high maturity of employees and managers. In order to generate this, you need a recruiting and a people development working on this objective.

How is this going to work in a business world generating a benefit for the company and a benefit for the employee while transferring corporate and individual performance into a benefit for the customer and the society?

How to execute these ideas on the bottom line and how to melt them into a performance management which is structured for corporate necessities and open for individual possibilities at the same time; a performance management simple and transparent unfolding delegation, trust and responsibility, granting personal freedom, integrity and career accomplishment with belonging, motivation and security?

There is a blank sheet of paper, there is the individual system of the employee, there is the individual leadership system of the manager and there is the strategic and cultural umbrella of the company and its business.

My suggestion as temporary solution in a reflecting work in progress is

1. Management by Objectives – Quantitative Review

Focus on strategically and personally relevant goals of the past

2. Coaching and mentoring dialog as a Strength-Based Interview as suggested by Heinz Landau in the previous blog – Qualitative Review and Preview

Focus on the most important strengths and needs for the tasks in terms of expertise or attitude

3. Management by Objectives – Quantitative Preview

Focus on strategically and personally relevant goals for the future

4. Dialog on the consequences for the career path of the employee

Focus long term development and consequences for the near future

5. Reward

Focus on mutual benefits

The very outcome of these five items might fit on one page giving necessary structure on a blank sheet of paper and at the same time enough space for possible individual arrangements.

An approach like this skips the whole issue of a standardized behavioral fit and still encloses cultural aspects in the two dialogue sections. Executed on one page it is memorable because while focusing on the most important items of your dialogue you will need only around 15 lines to document past and future performance.

This is effective and efficient and still motivating. And on a basis of trust, you create focus and consensus while just managing performance.

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This entry was posted on Monday, June 28th, 2010 at 18:15 and is filed under Human Resources, Leadership, Management. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

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