People and Productivity No. 3

Managing performance the right way

As discussed with you last time, people productivity is usually about having the basics right. We mentioned 8 keys and I have ordered them in priority. PRIORITY 1 is to pick the right people. PRIORITY 2 is to train them right.

In this article, I will jump right down to Priority 7 – as decisions about performance management need to be made sooner rather later.

From my experience, the biggest reason for performance management not working is that it is done as an HR matter, somewhat divorced from organisation performance management.

For instance, I have seen how a very good project manager obtained abysmal performance scores because the change management project he was working on was a stillborn baby due to insufficient management buy-in and low resourcing/prioritisation at the client organisation. The project should have been abandoned from the start as the client was not ready for it. Yet his superiors sold and started the project prematurely.

People Performance is linked to organisation performance – it does not occur in a vacuum.  If an overworked debtors clerk has to cope with an invoicing system based on Excel instead of the required Pastel, her performance flaws will not be solved by specifying performance areas for her and doing monthly performance evaluations.

If you have a suitable person, with the right training, working with a manageable workload, having the right tools for the job and being paid a competitive salary, the chances are that the person will perform well.  I suggest that you use a very basic performance management system and avoid the elaborate and detailed options that I know are pushed by some division heads.

Performance management – basic system
I would suggest that you have monthly performance review meetings with your DIVISION. This would preferably be part of the management meetings you ALREADY have. Make sure that, whatever agenda you have, the following is covered:

1. Are targets being met and is the work of our division on standard? Provide easy to understand graphs and numbers.
2. Reasons for lower than expected performance.
3. Division plans to improve performance.
4. Progress on division plans to improve performance.

Ensure that supervisors evaluate individual performance evaluation monthly or quarterly with their subordinates. It is important that they link the division performance with the role of the individual.

JP Venter

JP Venter



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