Performance improvement. Are you struggling for it? Is your organisation?
Don’t worry – you are not alone. A quick search on performance improvement in Google returned 32,200,000 hits. That’s right, 32 million! If that doesn’t give you some idea of how ubiquitous the subject has become I guess nothing will.
Do you ever feel that in trying to improve performance you are embarking on an endless quest? You wouldn’t be wrong, for it is becoming permanent. That is possibly why the term ‘continuous improvement’ has become almost as popular. A Google search reveals 21+ million hits for continuous improvement: a term which has only really come into the lexicon in the past couple of decades.
Yet there is nothing new about this. Humankind has been doing it for ever, and indeed owes its progress and survival to the innate endeavour to always get better. Indeed it is a law of life. So there is absolutely nothing wrong with always striving to improve.
And it makes perfect sense that, “Organisations already invest a lot of time and money developing managers to handle the performance of others. However, it's widely believed this is something that most companies can still improve upon to get the best out of their employees." (HR Magazine)
And yet, you have to ask yourself how effective their efforts are. I don’t know about you, but I cannot help feeling that they are not investing that well or putting their ladders in the right places. You see, the focus remains on "getting the best out of employees." And surely that is the wrong focus. Don’t you think you would do far better to invest in “making the best of your employees?”
Perhaps you can thank your lucky stars that few, if any, organisations measure the return on management investment in getting the best out of their employees. Yet when you think about it, is it even feasible to do so? After all people determine their own effort; not their managers. And apart from that there are too many other variables involved to realistically measure the management contribution. That being the case, you have to ask yourself if this investment is the best use of resources.
But I can hear you asking yourself, “What happens if I don’t make this investment? How else can I ensure that performance does improve?”
Surely, if people motivate themselves, the answer lies in investing in the people directly: in allowing them to be the best they can be and to fulfil their own potential? For too long we have been “managing”; using status and position to drive others’ behaviour and thereby creating a rod for both employees’ and managers’ backs. Maybe it is no wonder that performance improvement has become such an issue!
For real performance improvement perhaps it’s time to shift that ladder. That would be true talent management. What do you think?