Conventionally, “performance management” systems focus on the so-called ‘people management’ bits of the overall process, with a heavy emphasis on numerical target setting, formal assessment of performance against targets, and the comparative rating and ranking of individuals for payment and/or other purposes. However, the underlying dynamics of performance mean that the results achieved by individuals are heavily influenced by several other factors, including:
- the dynamics of the work processes that they are involved in;
- the impact of leaders’ words and actions (including silence and inaction) on their behaviour;
- the extent to which their own capabilities match the current and emerging challenges that they face;
and, because people are interdependent,
- the decisions and actions taken and not taken by myriad other people, which affect what actually happens in practice.
Managers who are genuinely concerned with improving business performance, focus on these underlying dynamics of organizational performance ahead of the mechanistic (and necessarily arbitrary) target setting and rating/ranking of individuals. As regards ‘people performance’ they start from a position of high expectations of people’s willingness and ability to contribute at their best, and then set out to enable them to do just that.
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