The Smarter way to better Business

Performance management: It's all in the timing!
by Paul Bergquist

Those of you who are familiar with the theories of group behavior may have heard the expression "forming - storming - norming - performing". This expression, in essence, indicates that a group has life-cycle periods not very different from that of a single human being.

Remember your childhood? Childhood was all about belonging to your group, the family. It was about learning the basic skills, like the language, and it was about trusting your leadership, your mom and your dad.Then there was puberty. It was time to challenge that leadership and define your own role within the family --or on the outside. This transition period was not without its controversies for most of us.

And finally, you have now reached that adult period in your life where you live in mutually dependent coexistence with the people around you. Well, at least in theory :-)

Groups move through the very same stages.

There's a "childhood" stage where the important thing for any group member is to belong to the group and learn the group's "language". Then, there's a puberty stage where leadership is being challenged, and finally, either group members find a way of dividing roles and responsibilities that help them perform as a unity, or the group, as it is known, dissolves. As with the human being, these stages may last for only a brief period in time or they might just take "forever."

So, what has this to do with the timing of the introduction of a performance management system such as Balanced Scorecard to your organization?

It may very well turn out to be one of the most crucial factors determining the success or failure of your performance management initiative!

If BSC is introduced at the "childhood" stage of a corporate leadership team's life-cycle, and particularly if it is actively endorsed by the group's leader, it stands a fair chance of becoming the "preferred language" of that team for the remainder of its existence.

If introduced at the "puberty" stage, however, performance management risks being used as a means of control or challenge, thus being considered dangerous by at least some of the group members.

The chances of a successful implementation at this stage is, therefore, a lot less probable. This will be due both to active resistance against the scorecard concept as such and to group members wanting to conceal or pump up actual results (if these results may be "used against them").

Introducing BSC in a mature and well functioning group where people trust and respect each other, and where there's a mutual understanding of interdependency, improves drastically the chances of scorecard success.

This assumes, of course, that you're able to convince them that there's more to be achieved by introducing this new tool than leaving things as they are. This will be the real challenge at with these guys. Such a mature group will, however, be more likely to respond positively if facing an important threat to its existence, such as a major change in the business environment or flat out poor results.

Just remember that the success of performance management at this stage depends on the group's ability to maintain that trust, respect and unity.

That might just be the greatest challenge.

Copyright 2005, Axsellit AS
This article may be freely linked to, but not copied.

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