Possible objections to performance management that are often mentioned include:
1. It evokes resistance
The introduction of performance management evokes resistance because it reduces existing freedom of action. This observation is correct: freedom of action is indeed reduced. However, in the context of the methodology, this is seen as desirable. Managers cannot confine themselves to flashy activities, but must manage the everyday practicalities.
2. Performance management is (too) instrumental
Performance management does indeed rely on an instrumental approach; however, this is embedded in the management style. Monitoring performance periodically with figures is certainly part of it. But it is not good if this encounters resistance; the ownership principle must therefore be taken seriously. It is also not good if performance management leads to a complicated information structure. The starting point is just that a simple but consistent supply of information can ensure that managers are no longer drowning in figures. Many other approaches to performance management run aground precisely because they are trying to measure ‘everything’.
3. A more formal approach is not wanted
The organization is already operating with performance indicators and a new and more formal approach to this is not wanted. If the other approach works, there is of course no reason to switch. If the approach does not work, a change may, however, be of benefit. But one cannot partially introduce the method. Management must realize in advance that performance management requires the necessary discipline and that all steps should be consistently taken.
4. Discussion takes a lot of time
Discussing ‘the figures’ will require a lot of time. After all, the position of the indicators does not indicate what actions need to be taken. Other indicators provide few clues for direction or change in the short term, for example, because one is dependent on environmental factors that are difficult to influence. Such objections are correct, but can made in against any system of indicators. That does not mean that a group that regularly discusses the indicator positions, is not being useful and is not willing to take a more pro-active stance.
We would not want to downplay these or other objections. Those who find the objections valid are recommended to compare the existing situation without performance management with a situation in which performance management is functioning. Even the latter situation will never be completely satisfactory.
Change management approaches
In particular, in the book ‘The cockpit of the organization’, a number of change management observations are given as to how to overcome these and other objections as much as possible. Taking these into account allows performance management to be smoothly introduced into an organization.
All types of organizations
In our experience, this can happen in all types of organizations, both profit and non-profit and independently of their size. Performance management really works. Organizations that introduce it are financially more successful, more innovative and deliver higher quality work (see e.g. Rucci, Kim & Quinn, 1998; Schiemann & Lingle, 1999; De Waal, 2002b).
The organization must be sufficiently calm
The only practical limitation we would like to mention is that the organization should be sufficiently calm in order to apply the ownership principle. Organizations in an acute crisis situation do not meet that precondition and a comprehensive dialogue between management and employees is then not possible.
What is the practical result?
Management can introduce performance management / an organizational cockpit with confidence in other situations. What is the practical result of a performance management tool like Board and Bizzscore over time? That can be said in one sentence: once performance management has been introduced, anyone can see for themselves what contribution he or she must make and to what he or she must really be committed.