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Focusing on Performance by Richard Nelson

June 3, 2009 - In Managing Performance - No comments yet

“The real organizational challenge is to get all managers to view managing performance as the most important part of their role.” 

Managing performance whether good, bad or indifferent is the job of a manager. For some companies, this would be an obvious statement. But, as many management professionals know, this is not always the case. Some businesses still reward professional success by promoting people into management regardless of managerial capability. Also, managers who communicate what is expected, agree staff objectives in relation to the business’s current plan, monitor performance and give meaningful feedback to improve results are not as common as executive leaders would like.

Some may think it curious that in these competitive times more focus is not placed on the management of performance. Certainly, after efficiency projects such as outsourcing and off-shoring and the consequential structural realignments, reinvigorating the approach to managing performance is often critical to getting staff familiar with a new set of priorities. Managing performance is also a core leadership issue; it’s about working with one’s direct staff to really concentrate on those vital tasks that will generate the best return on effort.

For executive leaders, it’s all about creating a performance culture where people take pride in being part of the wider organizational team, know their contribution will be recognised and rewarded and feel energised to add value beyond average expectations. By developing skills and behaviours with respect to managing performance, and constantly refining their practical application, managers will develop among their people the muscle and agility to quickly grasp opportunities: in the market, with customers, for improving processes and for new products and services.

A performance culture is more likely to be engendered if the overall approach to managing performance is consistent. Here, Human Resources professionals can help by getting alongside the business’s managers and consulting about an appropriate process.

The real organizational challenge is to get all managers to view managing performance as the most important part of their role. This means dealing with poor performance, encouraging people to go beyond average performance and providing challenge to good/excellent performers. Getting the ‘business as usual’ work systematised as much as possible and prioritising the ‘best return’ opportunities will, over time, also make the organization fitter. This will expose more fat to be shed: thus the effective management of performance will drive up revenues and also help further cost reduction.

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