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Clinton Wingrove

Pilat HR Solutions

Principal Consultant

Read more about Clinton Wingrove

A paradigm shift in performance management – part one


Performance management has never been more required than right now. With priorities changing constantly and resources under continuous scrutiny, our employees have once again become the key to differentiating our business, brand and services.

The degree to which we respect the effectiveness of performance management may have evolved from direct experience – and some of us have had positive experiences which mean there is something to build on. However, if yours is typical of the majority of other leaders, then you may well have been suffering from a performance management hangover! Many of our processes were designed based on circumstances that prevailed as long ago as the mid 50s when Drucker introduced ‘management by objectives’ in his book, The Practice of Management. At that time:

  • Only paper based recording, routing and approval were possible
  • Strict hierarchical structures were the norm with few, if any, matrix relationships
  • Cross functional working was the exception
  • Goals, strategies, plans and priorities were largely set at the top and pushed down
  • Employees worked in accordance with strict rules about location, time and attendance
  • Employees largely expected to be told what to do, to be trained when appropriate and to be told what their next position was.

No longer! We are now in an era when these and other factors have fundamentally changed and are now having a huge impact on the requirements of managerial processes. Such factors include, but are not limited to:

  • Socio-economic pressures
  • Web-based and other technologies
  • Globalisation and intensive culture blending
  • Organisation designs and processes for restructuring
  • Business processes and the ways in which these are evolved or radically changed
  • Declining availability of true ‘top talent’
  • Increasing competition from home as well as low-cost nations
  • Social conscience such as ‘going green’ and attention to global warming

Shifting the mindset
There is a need for a fundamentally new paradigm yet most HR professionals, and even most consultancies and business schools, continue to start their journey from where they are. They research and attempt to refine what was, what is asked for and what is. Yet, as Henry Ford is sometimes quoted as saying: “If I had based my new products on what people were asking for, I would have bred a huge, fast horse!” We have to get off the ‘annual goal setting’ and ‘annual performance appraisal’ track – it has led to a rail crash of monumental proportions that has repeatedly damaged the reputation of HR and failed to produce any significant improvement in the performance of those at whom it was aimed.

The time has come to create a dramatically different solution, grounded in an objective assessment of what is needed, an understanding of how people think and act and designed based on contemporary or even predicted possibilities.

Only through such an approach are we going to lift ourselves from the trivial discussions of whether we should have a three point or a six point scale, whether managers should see the self assessment before they write their appraisal of them and how we can make largely ineffective processes so simple that they eventually become acceptable to even the incompetent!

So, what are the ‘givens’ of performance management that are hindering optimum individual and organisational performance?

Part two will call conventional practice to task and challenge HR to make a fundamental mind shift toward the advancement of performance management.

Clinton Wingrove is EVP and Principal Consultant at Pilat HR Solutions

3 Responses

  1. Performance Management

    Thanks for the paper; as fellow vendors in the PM space, it was good to see a high level of agreement between us.  You seem to share my view that whilst technology can assist in PM, it is not a solution in and of itself.  We too provide highly configured "best-fit" solutions AND advise clients that, "If you think this is only a software project, STOP."

    I first started my PM journey in 1985 while Head Of Management Training And Development with 3M Company; and what a great place to start – where inoovation was a way of life; where PM was about day to day conversations; where appraisal really began the day your performance plan was approved; where they understood that whilst output is critical, you can’t manage it – you can only manage behaviour; where they understood that  trying to put people into 3 to 5 overall rating categories without investing the time to assess the component parts was nonsense; ….  It gave me a great grounding and my rsearch eventually led me to my current company, Pilat HR Solutions.

    But it is the two big challenges that really now excite me (1) the immense change to how we communicate, interract, and adapt to changing circumstances and demands, and (2) the behavioral engineering power and the predictive analytics power of contemporary technology.  Combined these create one of the most exciting periods ever for achieving quantum leaps in the effectiveness of PM. 

    Effective OD initiatives managed by highly techno savvy OD practitioners; underpinned, powereed and enhanced by contemporary technology; and, supported by robust skill training for employees and managers can have dramatic bottom-line impact.

    — Clinton Wingrove EVP & Principal Consultant, Pilat HR Solutions "Futurist, pragmatist, passionator"

  2. Still working in the 50’s with Management by Objectives

    MBO and MTTP were and still are the BASICS – if the rules of engagement change then change is the challenge, always has been and always will be. HR are probably one of the most resistant groups to change simply because of the type of people that work in HR – they are carers – and carers like to keep things the same. (A generalistic statement I know but does have a lot of truth in it)

    The challenge to change the way we manage remains the same, and until we can learn to communicate in a common language, using a set of known business communication rules we will remain in no man’s land.

    Adding complexity to communication means we must now start to introduce a new business language with formalised rule sets to allow us to build upon globalisation, but having tried to involve both HR and management in these ideas, have found the resistance to change impossible to overcome.

    It will take more than one brave organisation to make the move before the TRIED AND TESTED badge of honour allows the majority of HR to allow similar change to begin, I fear.

    So I leave you with a thought – if communication is not the problem then hearing what is being said is. If you don’t want to hear, or have your views, and are not willing to listen to alternative views and consider the possibilities, then you can only ever work in the past. If the future is where we need to be and that involves risk, then you need to consider doing something that is different. If you are prepared to try something different then you must be prepared to fail without blaming others. If the people who need to change don’t speak your language – What chance change?

    Well now that’s cheered everyone up – I’ll go back to work….

  3. What employees think of performance management

    Hi Clinton

    I believe that creating a high-performance culture starts by diagnosing what's good and bad about the status quo. One of my colleagues published 'Performance Management Review' two weeks ago. It uses employee survey results from thousands of employees and highlights that employees are well supported by line managers, but may not understand what their company is seeking to achieve.

    I hope it contributes to the debate.


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Clinton Wingrove

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