Use per­for­mance to in­crease pro­duc­tiv­ity and dis­ci­pline

Finweek English Edition - - INSIDE - BY FRIK LAND­MAN Frik Land­man is the CEO of USB Ex­ec­u­tive Devel­op­ment (USB-ED), a public com­pany of Uni­ver­sity of Stel­len­bosch Busi­ness School that de­liv­ers man­age­ment devel­op­ment pro­grammes in the con­text of the pri­vate and public sec­tor as well as civil

Arapidly chang­ing world has cre­ated a so­ci­ety crav­ing speed and ac­tion. In a tur­bu­lent en­vi­ron­ment, fu­ture lead­ers face in­cred­i­ble pres­sures to de­liver im­me­di­ate re­sults, to do more with less and to man­age an ever-in­creas­ing per­sonal work­load. The pace and ur­gency of daily de­mands could make it dif­fi­cult to per­form in the fu­ture.


Ex­ec­u­tives have a huge chal­lenge to cre­ate so­lu­tions to en­hance the per­for­mance of the peo­ple in their or­gan­i­sa­tions. Those in man­age­ment should know by now that they need to de­velop their per­sonal mas­tery as lead­ers to man­age com­plex prob­lems and to en­gage with their peo­ple in or­der to cre­ate sus­tain­able per­for­mance.

There are no quick so­lu­tions, and the easy way out usu­ally leads back in. It is there­fore very im­por­tant to cre­ate a cul­ture of per­for­mance over a pe­riod, rather than try­ing to en­force dis­ci­pline from the top with short-term so­lu­tions and threats.

The ad­van­tage of a cul­ture of per­for­mance, over man­age­ment en­forc­ing per­for­mance, is that you get the buy-in of the em­ploy­ees and ev­ery­one can ‘see’ and ‘live’ the benefits of the new cul­ture. It is how­ever very im­por­tant that man­age­ment re­alises that the change in cul­ture starts at the very top. This is where many man­agers fail. They do not un­der­stand that it all starts with them and that they should set the ex­am­ple.


Con­tem­po­rary re­search con­firms that there is a di­rect cor­re­la­tion be­tween a cul­ture of per­for­mance and a cul­ture of dis­ci­pline. This means that it is easy to ob­serve in or­gan­i­sa­tions with a strong cul­ture of dis­ci­pline that there al­ready ex­ists a strong cul­ture of per­for­mance.

A good ex­am­ple of this was doc­u­mented when a fork­lift driver at South African Brew­eries (SAB) saw that the la­bels of the beer bot­tles that he had to load on the truck were not straight. He stopped the fork­lift and went to the de­pot manager and said that he would not load the beer on the truck, as skew la­bels were not in line with their agreed cul­ture of per­for­mance.

The de­pot manager then in­structed the fork­lift driver to load the beer, but the fork­lift driver still re­fused and asked the de­pot manager if he could have the tele­phone num­ber of the CEO of SAB to get his per­mis­sion to load the beer.

Need­less to say, the beer was never loaded. This is a good ex­am­ple of where a cul­ture of per­for­mance ex­isted, en­hanced by a cul­ture of dis­ci­pline.


It is im­por­tant f irst to de­ter­mine the cur­rent cul­ture in the or­gan­i­sa­tion. Un­for­tu­nately, many man­age­ment teams are in de­nial and do not want to ad­mit that there is a prob­lem with the cul­ture in their or­gan­i­sa­tions.

Only af­ter a thor­ough anal­y­sis by means of a thor­ough ques­tion­naire that mea­sures the cul­ture in the or­gan­i­sa­tion, do man­age­ment teams re­alise the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion at the com­pany for the first time and that much work needs to be done to cre­ate a cul­ture of per­for­mance in the or­gan­i­sa­tion.


Do not ex­pect that there will be a high level of pro­duc­tiv­ity in an or­gan­i­sa­tion if there is not a cul­ture of per­for­mance. Ev­ery per­son in the or­gan­i­sa­tion must be able to ‘see’ the benefits of this cul­ture, but should also be held accountable to per­form ac­cord­ing to this agreed stan­dard, with con­se­quences not en­forced by man­age­ment, but ini­ti­ated by fel­low em­ploy­ees (fork­lift ex­am­ple).

When a cul­ture of per­for­mance is es­tab­lished over time, man­age­ment can also look for­ward to a cul­ture of dis­ci­pline. The ex­is­tence of the two di­men­sions in or­gan­i­sa­tions is a proven com­bi­na­tion for ex­cel­lence.

The ul­ti­mate con­se­quence will be sus­tain­able per­for­mance that will have a pos­i­tive im­pact on the mo­ti­va­tion and en­gage­ment of the em­ploy­ees at all lev­els.

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