Ağzıma kadar doluyum ama anlatabileceğim bir kişi bile yok yanımda. Asıl kötü olanda ben insanların zor gününde hep yanındaydım her zaman destek oldum mutlu ettim güldürdüm bir nebze de olsa acılarını unutturmaya çalıştım. Karşılığı bir hiçmiş. Şimdi bunu sana neden yazdım bilmiyorum ama, aması yok işte neyse iyi geceler..
Photographer: Ella Wormser Date: 1895 Negative Number 012698
Ella Wormser had studied painting at the San Francisco School of Design and took up photography during the years after she married and while she lived in Deming, New Mexico, where her husband had a mercantile business.
In 1895, she documented Jack Follansbee’s crew of cowboys and vaqueros as they finished driving William Randolph Hearst’s cattle from his million acres of ranch land in Mexico to meet the railroad in Deming.
The Wormsers later returned to California, and some of her glass negatives managed to survive the San Francisco earthquake of 1906.
Is it a good idea to reflect on complex and important topics when warm and dozy on a lazy summer holiday afternoon? Probably not. But I want to live life on the edge, so let’s take the risk.
After completing my latest MBA subject ‘Managing Contemporary Organisations’ in December, I had some topics which I had not yet reflected on or posted here. Before returning to work next week, I’m re-reading my notes and writing some brief catch up posts. This topic, Performance Management was a big one, as it is an area the lecturer had some practical experience in from early in his career when we worked in Human Resources.
A good friend who has known be for a very long time, yesterday told me that one of my strongest defining characteristics which has been present since at least early High School is to question everything, and especially authority and tradition. I took it as a compliment. So when I read the opening line of the introduction to this topic, I got very excited:
Sometimes our most valuable contribution to managing organisations is in questioning policies or activities that are 'taken for granted’, accepted because they are just 'things that organisations do’.
The lecturer proposed that performance appraisals are part of this received wisdom in organisations, and that has lead to either useless or damaging systems. I must admit that I have had limited experience with such systems, and the ones I have been exposed to have been mostly harmless.
Performance Appraisals and Performance Management is usually done to help an organisation achieve its goals by addressing each member of the team individually. This operates from a reductionist assumption, that the whole (organisation) is just the sum of its parts (individuals). There is a powerful and subconscious idea at play here, which permeates Western thought: if the group is falling short of its goals, someone is to blame. So the logic flows, if we appraise individual performance we will discover the 'under performers’ and can assist them - or remove them. We just have to find the weak link, and the Performance Management system is a process of discovery, measurement, and intervention. The measurement uses Key Performance Indicators (KPI). They are often nested into a very pretty structure like so:
From a complex systems angle, the original assumption is false - the whole is greater (and much more unpredictable) that the sum of its parts. Although individuals, teams, and organisations may set goals and objectives, ensuring a healthy system as a whole is more productive that scrutinising - and blaming - individuals. Citing Deming, there is evidence to suggest that up to 85% of the productive capacity of an organisation comes from the effects of the system. Although cringeworthy, this is an appropriate time to use the word synergy.
That is not to say that individuals may have a positive or negative impact on the system, just that KPIs and Performance Appraisals are not the best way of revealing them. An example was given from a real workplace experienced by a previous student of the course:
A sales team was measured on individual sales, which were then rolled up into a team KPI. For some time, the team members were encouraged to be more like the 'high achiever’. It was subsequently discovered though that the 'high achiever’ was a bully who stole sales from other team members. When the bully was removed, the team achieved greater sales than before, for one less salary!
A manager should therefore take a holistic, relational approach to improving performance. Ask yourself “Have I done everything I can to enable this person to perform?”. This should include, involving the person in fixing the systems they have to use - they are the domain experts and likely have the best idea as to how to improve it. When fixing a system, one has to go upstream, to find the root of the problem. This is remarkably like software debugging!
Another aspect is training. A common approach is to provide training for people in areas of weakness. However, this assumes that everyone can or should be good at everything - an assumption that should be questioned. Everyone has the potential to be 'capable’ in most areas - but everyone also has the potential to be outstanding in a few areas. Surely it is better to spend training resources to assist people to become great in their area of passion? Borrowing a phrase from cool overseas development people: this is a strengths based approach to professional development.
This has been a really useful topic to reflect upon, especially to think about my own workplace from a strengths based perspective. There is also a push to create KPIs, so I need to think about what we choose to measure and how they are to be used.
W. Edwards Deming proposed the 85-15 rule –- when things go wrong, there is an 85% chance that the system is at fault, and only a 15% chance that an individual worker is at fault. Most of the time, managers erroneously blame individuals when the failure was really in the system.