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Understanding performance management

Performance management is more than a buzzword. This book attempts to dispel the clouds of confusion surrounding this concept. Mark A Stiffler in his book Performance: Creating the Performance-Driven Organisation attempts to clear out any misunderstanding or plain lack of understanding about performance management.

In the introduction, Stiffler states that it is not just another book on performance management but the first one. Stiffler personalises both, the subject and the book, by way of issuing something of a caution early on when he makes clear to the reader that he has his opinion on the ‘sorry’ state of performance management. Disputes and arguments may be possible about the ‘first book’ claim. However, it may be hard to overlook the fact that in later parts, the author lays importance on the individual rather than the organisation. This pattern emerges throughout the book. Stiffler first makes his remarks on the organisation and then suggests solutions that are individual-centric.

The author picks out the popular approaches to performance management and tries to explain what has gone wrong; either with them or in the way they are followed. By chapter three, Stiffler has finished with pointing out fallacies in general practices and the rest of the book concentrates on solving the problem of performance management. To quote him, “We’ve outlined the problem in general terms. The rest of the book focusses on the solution….”

As Stiffler starts taking the reader through the solutions, he explains a middle-of-the-road approach, which he says is the way an organisation and its employees can be blended. He gives out the five major components of an unified approach: align, measure, reward, report and analyse. He says here that the employee must be rewarded and given credit when it is due. This he adds is the only component that does not have an organisational side to it.

Title : Performance: Creating the Performance- Driven Organisation
Author : Mark A Stiffler
Publisher : John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken, New Jersey, 2006,
Pages : 204
Price : Rs 1,278

He then explains each component of the approach in detail through the remaining chapters. After this, he mentions an obvious yet important point; an approach is as good as a model and not successful until an organisation actually goes ahead and follows it. Here he offers a set of instructions to the organisation. According to him, an organisation need not race against others to be the first to implement a model. “There is no finish line,” he says. He also points out how a small amount of progress may help an organisation earn larger rewards.

It is noticeable that in this chapter too, the author maintains the importance of the individual to an organisation. He provides an entire set of things to be considered while formulating an “action plan.” He makes sure that he mentions the idea of the organisation customising all models and approaches. This is another factor common throughout the book.

Towards the end, the author lists out a set of critical factors for success. According to him, having an action plan is essential, so also the environment in which the plan can be executed. In this chapter, Stiffler talks about the differences in organisational culture and how the top management needs to be as committed as any other department which is part of the plan’s execution.

In conclusion, he states that in spite of executing a plan, the organisation is going to face some problem or the other. However, it calls for understanding the problem, its reasons and the possible solutions and then trying to solve it with the co-operation of all individuals in the organisation.

If there was one thing lacking in this book, it was the case studies and real life examples of organisations which have either succeeded or failed in their performance management programmes, regardless of what strategies they followed. All in all, the book could be rated as a must read for a decision-maker in an organisation, irrespective of its size or the industry vertical that it operates in.

— Rishiraj Verma

 
     
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