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John Pope

John Pope Associates

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Book Review: Beyond performance management by Jeremy Hope and Steve Player

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‘Beyond Performance Management’ is a book that has been needed for a number of years. 

Jeremy Hope and Steve Player point out that many ‘must-have’ management tools have in the past proved unsatisfactory and that only about 30% of change programmes built using them have succeeded: they also back up their views with independent research.
 
The authors selected 40 of the better known ‘tools and approaches’ that are typically employed when undertaking a new initiative, a major programme and/or initiatives requiring a substantial financial investment.
 
They also explored five major issues that are important to senior managers: strategic planning; shareholder and customer value; lean cost management; performance measurement; performance evaluation and learning and development. 
 
Under the performance evaluation sub-heading, for instance, the writers cover topics such as:
  1. Performance appraisals: Their frequent failure to work effectively is attributed to the reluctance of managers to confront issues such as unsatisfactory performance or identify ways to bring about change
  2. Recognition and reward: The authors point out the importance of tailoring such processes to the work undertaken by the people involved
  3. Executive compensation: Because excessive compensation and bonuses can cause business disruption, the book refers to the importance of ensuring that top managers make the greatest contribution towards building lasting value
  4. Profit-sharing schemes: To ensure these work effectively, it is important to identify individuals’ performance potential and avoid any feelings of ‘entitlement’ by creating inter-dependent teams.
But a short section on total quality management is what makes this book a really worthwhile read, in my view.
 
It makes the obvious and often sadly neglected point that detailed and comprehensive processes and procedures, bureaucratic inspections and possession of ISO 9000 accreditations are not necessarily a guarantee of quality, which must instead be embedded in the organisation.
 
Overall, however, this is a challenging book. The authors make statements that will stimulate those familiar with the subject to re-think their ideas. But they also set out strong principles in a stimulating way and provide lots of examples to back up their arguments. 
 
Heavy going though it was, I still enjoyed reading it and will definitely be re-reading it in future.
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John Pope

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