Lift­ing coun­cil per­for­mance

The Northland Age - - Local Life / Opinion - Cr John Vu­j­cich

A McKin­sey Quar­terly ar­ti­cle, The fair­ness fac­tor in per­for­mance man­age­ment, noted that per­for­mance man­age­ment sys­tems have a much bet­ter chance of be­ing per­ceived as fair when they do three things.

They must be clear about what is ex­pected from em­ploy­ees and spe­cific about how their work links with the over­all busi­ness pri­or­i­ties, while main­tain­ing a strong el­e­ment of flex­i­bil­ity; there needs to be an in­vest­ment in the coach­ing skills of man­agers so they can be­come bet­ter “ar­biters of day-to-day fair­ness”; and stand­out per­for­mance needs to be re­warded in some roles.

The ar­ti­cle said com­pa­nies should embrace the “power curve.” That is, 20 per cent of em­ploy­ees gen­er­ate 80 per cent of the value in most com­pa­nies. It also noted when work­ing in a col­lab­o­ra­tive team en­vi­ron­ment it’s risky to have size­able dif­fer­ences in com­pen­sa­tion among team mem­bers. “Cre­at­ing a per­cep­tion that there are haves and have-nots in a com­pany out­weighs any ben­e­fit that might be de­rived from hav­ing gran­u­lar pay dif­fer­ences.”

The sur­vey rat­ing of per­for­mance man­age­ment sys­tems across a host of fac­tors iden­ti­fied that the above three fac­tors re­ally stood out. Com­pa­nies hav­ing none, one, two, or all three of those fac­tors rated their per­for­mance man­age­ment sys­tems as seven per cent, 27 per cent, 43 per cent and 84 per cent ef­fec­tive re­spec­tively.

While the ar­ti­cle was fo­cused on com­pa­nies strug­gling with im­ple­ment­ing ef­fec­tive em­ploy­ment per­for­mance mea­sures, it is also very ap­pli­ca­ble to coun­cil in sev­eral ways. One of the coun­cil’s key KPIs is to im­prove the in­ter­nal cul­ture of the or­gan­i­sa­tion. This means, amongst other things, that we must have ef­fec­tive per­for­mance man­age­ment of staff. Given the McKin­sey find­ings it would be im­por­tant to en­sure that the same three fac­tors are in­cluded in our in­ter­nal per­for­mance man­age­ment sys­tem.

Specif­i­cally, coun­cil will need to have clear over­all ob­jec­tives it wishes to achieve, and the long-term plan is the main doc­u­ment for defin­ing this. Staff per­for­mance ob­jec­tives will then need to be linked to these ob­jec­tives.

Man­agers need to be given train­ing to im­prove their coach­ing skills. Coach­ing is multi-faceted — be­ing good at lis­ten­ing, show­ing em­pa­thy, will­ing the ques­tions, pro­vid­ing con­struc­tive feed­back, but specif­i­cally en­cour­ag­ing, build­ing up and mo­ti­vat­ing your team to achieve spe­cific goals and solutions. Great coaches build high-achiev­ing teams.

We also need to recog­nise hard­work­ing and ef­fec­tive teams, and in­di­vid­ual high-achiev­ers, and re­ward them in a man­ner that is fair and eq­ui­table.

If we are to lift the per­for­mance of coun­cil, we must change to a pos­i­tive cul­ture, fo­cused on de­liv­ery re­sults and build­ing teams. Both coun­cil­lors and staff have that col­lec­tive re­spon­si­bil­ity. Only then will we see an im­prove­ment in coun­cil’s over­all per­for­mance.

"If we are to lift the per­for­mance of coun­cil, we must change to a pos­i­tive cul­ture, fo­cused on de­liv­ery re­sults and build­ing teams. Both coun­cil­lors and staff have that col­lec­tive re­spon­si­bil­ity."

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