Do answers to the performance management revolution lie in sport?

Over the past 5-10 years, business and large corporations have been revisiting the best ways to manage staff and develop their people as one response to the changing demands on the organisation.

These changing demands are internally driven by the so-called generation “x” and “y’s” , the fading numbers of baby boomers within the decision making ranks, and a move to ‘short-termism’ rather than being tied to the long-term plans and planning process.

Externally driven by rapid technological advances, stakeholders who seek results without the tolerance, patience and loyalty of the past, and globalisation which has the capacity to suck everything and everyone into the vortex.

Various industries and various sectors within industries are grappling with change and the speed of change.

There is little question that one way to not only cope with change, but also to be able to embrace it and use it to competitive advantage, is to have a nimble, agile, multi-skilled, team -oriented workforce.

For the workforce to be highly effective, meaning the business or organisation continue to get results, then the leaders must be tuned into the pulse of its people, and provide them with the necessary environment, culture and leadership to meet and beat the daily challenges.

A recent article in HBR, provides a good historical picture of how leaders, business and staff relationships have evolved to where it is now.

The article centres its attention on the annual performance review process and provides examples of the revolution away from a process that was very successful and championed by Jack Welsh in the 80’s at GE to Kelly Services and then Adobe being acknowledged as the first major firms to break with this approach, only 4 – 5 years ago.

Other companies in the US and around the world have quickly followed with a recent Deloittes report suggesting only 12% of major organisations have not made any move away from the annual performance appraisal.

Nonetheless, the HBR article points out that it is not all plain sailing. While there are a number of advantages that have accrued to those using different models for staff engagement, staff feedback, staff assessments, there are still plenty of challenges. In fact, some of the early adopters of throwing out the annual performance appraisal, have returned to it in different hybrid forms.

In my future articles and blogs, I will address the issues raised by various reports into Performance Management as I believe sport has some very valuable lessons for business, business leaders to understand and adopt into their practices.

It is an area which I dealt with on a daily basis, coaching international sport – not always successfully, but therein always lay the foundations for learning and change.

I look forward to sharing with you the lessons I have learned, and now take into corporate arenas.

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