Management performance models

January 9, 2008

This experiment of being open is working well (and open for the rest of this week). Today Alan Byrne shares a frustration on measurement. It reminded me (Dave) of several corporate environments I have served or observed. What do you think?

I am frustrated by management performance models which seek to measure how you do your job. The phrase is ‘observable behaviours’. Can one hope to find a better tool to provide a platform for any prejudices or dislikes harboured by those doing the performance review? It is tantamount to saying ‘I don’t like the way you do your job because I don’t like you’. The stupidity of the process is that it creates a homogenous workforce – everyone who plays the game ends up like those above them – it can become like a role play, but you forget to come out of the role.

The level of interpretative opinion one is subjected to in this process is incredulous. It promotes the sycophant and condemns the straight talker to special projects, otherwise known as God’s waiting room.

If you are courteous to people, respectful of people and do not carry on in a loutish manner why is it necessary to also be always positive, always supportive of those above you, always fulsome in your praise of others and always, always selling yourself and your achievements to anyone within earshot. Most of the time I listen to these people I wish I had a bucket handy – if not to get sick in then to place over their heads.

There also seems to be a tendency to mix values with observable actions. Many organisations now have values listed to which, we are assured, their employees subscribe – they just don’t bother with them outside of work. Does this confuse behaviours and morals? Do you possess better values because you behave in the way those above you expect? Do sycophants have better morals or weaker morals than those stuck on the bottom rung of the corporate ladder?

Behaviour management seems to me to be particularly childish. It’s like having a parent complete a performance review on their offspring. Unfortunately it commands a childish response. There will always be a favourite.

It’s all based on how you are perceived by those in power (meaning those that have control over your career progression and pay levels). What’s really important is whether you meet their expectations or not. Meeting their expectations is a very wooly exercise. It comes from spending time with the overlords and gaining their trust and learning what to do, what to say and how to say it. Bit like a dog really who learns over time how to behave so he gets taken for walks and fed. Of course if you decide to merely perform you job to the best of your ability but fail to do it in the expected manner – no walks for you.

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