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Getting Performance Without Performance Management

By Bjarte Bogsnes on September 21, 2012

In a recent hack on the MIX entitled The end of performance management (as we know it), I challenged not only performance management practices, but also the label itself. Whether or not it is by design, I believe the phrase performance management sends a negative message. What do employees hear in this phrase?

In a recent hack on the MIX entitled The end of performance management (as we know it), I challenged not only performance management practices, but also the label itself. Whether or not it is by design, I believe the phrase performance management sends a negative message. What do employees hear in this phrase? “If we want good performance, we must manage you.” Competent and intelligent employees want to be led, not managed. The job of managers should be to create the conditions that allow great performance to take place. This usually means they should lead more, and manage less. While this is one reason to reconsider the performance management label and the thinking behind it, another reason is our decreasing ability to effectively manage performance in an unpredictable and rapidly changing business world. When I started my budget and planning career at Statoil in the early eighties, a few dollars of oil price uncertainty was almost unbearable. Now, in a world with increasing geo-political and financial instability and businesses opportunities that appear and disappear at Internet speed, there often isn’t time to wait for traditional management to tell us what to do. Even if people were machines, the future would still be less manageable than ever. I believe language is important. If we can find a better label for performance management, it might help us find better practices. It is harder to change old ways if we keep the old name. Now I’d love to hear what you think. What is your proposal for how we can get great performance without performance management? Specifically, we’re looking for your input on two questions:

  1. What would you call your new model—that is, what label would you use to replace the term “Performance Management?”
  2. What are the top 2-3 defining features of your new model—that is, what in practice would be different from traditional performance management?
  3. click here to begin Sprint 1.

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pierre-ferrari's picture

i think the words performance management may be part of the problem as defined by Bjarte. we are trying to move our organization from a CULTURE of EFFORT to a Culture of PERFORMANCE. Defining performance then becomes a set of agreements between leaders across the whole organization. this then allows for autonomy and accountability to develop. This is especially important in the VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) world we live in.
Leadership then becomes less about managing and far more about innovation, adaptation, agility and inspiration