Performance Management

by Peter Parkes

Improvement

Leadership is lifting a person’s vision to higher sights, the raising of a person’s performance to a higher standard.

Peter Drucker

Consuming resources to gather and report performance information is of little use unless we are going to do something with it. Without even intending to, the display of adverse performance information will affect the team. The team may react by becoming demoralised if improvement is not in their power. Hence, as managers we are, when required, duty bound to take management action based on Performance Indicators.

There are a number of methodologies around for performance improvement, but here we are principally looking at the options of continuous improvement if things are going well, or fixing it if things are below an acceptable threshold. The difference between the two is usually whether the team do it themselves or there is management or external intervention.

Intervention approaches, such as Business Process Re-engineering (BPR), bring in resources or consultants to look at the basic business process to detect what has changed or broken, as many organisations are now complex inter-related systems.

Example

After several years struggling at the bottom end of the national league tables, a Benefits Agency had an intervention team imposed on them. The team found that there had been a large influx of immigrants and asylum seekers, and many of the paper application forms could not be read or processed at appropriate points down stream.

The department was changed to put a junior assessor onto the customer services desk to check forms as they were handed in, rather than several steps down the assessment process, and help people to fill forms in or send away for missing documents.

Average processing time dropped from months to days at a stroke, and the team were rewarded with spending the bulk of their time on work rather than demoralising re-work.

Continuous improvement approaches originate from Systems Thinking and Total Quality Management. These were made popular by case studies of the Toyota success story, and build on the work of the quality guru William Edwards Deming. Basically, the operational team is empowered to manage themselves and make changes as necessary to meet targets. Managers are called in to negotiate when the changes needed are outside the control of the operational team.

Never discourage anyone... who continually makes progress, no matter how slow.

Plato (427 BC – 347 BC)