Manila Bulletin

Com­mit to de­liver a level of per­for­mance

- By JE­SUS ESTANISLAO

ALL in­di­vid­ual con­tri­bu­tions to­wards at least one strate­gic pri­or­ity in the en­ter­prise trans­for­ma­tion road map need to be “mea­sured.” This means, they have to be quan­ti­fied; more­over, they must be made within a spec­i­fied time pe­riod.

Mea­sure­ment can be tricky. To avoid com­pli­ca­tions and am­bi­gu­ity, they have to be sim­ple and straight­for­ward. This means, there has to be a num­ber, which is used as a yard­stick of ac­tual per­for­mance de­liv­ered. In this re­gard, it is ob­jec­tive: it is there for ev­ery­one to see, and if nec­es­sary to check and ver­ify.

In ad­di­tion, there has to be a time spec­i­fied within which the mea­sured per­for­mance is to be de­liv­ered. Gen­er­ally, the time given for per­for­mance de­liv­ery is one year. This is short enough to be mean­ing­fully ver­i­fi­able; and it is long enough to give in­di­vid­u­als some room for flex­i­bil­ity. De­pend­ing on cir­cum­stances, within a year, there can be pre-agreed reck­on­ing pe­ri­ods, e.g. every month, or every quar­ter, or at least every 6 months. These in­ter­ven­ing reck­on­ing pe­ri­ods can give a sense to ev­ery­one on how the in­di­vid­ual is com­ing along in the course of the year. It gives an op­por­tu­nity for mak­ing ex­tra ef­fort in case there is some need for catch­ing up.

All the above are the el­e­ments that en­ter into an in­di­vid­ual’s per­sonal, workre­lated scorecard. By such a scorecard, the com­mit­ment to con­trib­ute pos­i­tively to the pur­suit of at least one strate­gic pri­or­ity in the en­ter­prise trans­for­ma­tion road map is for­mal­ized.

The in­di­vid­ual agrees with the im­me­di­ate su­per­vi­sor the ac­tiv­ity that the in­di­vid­ual should fo­cus on. It is the sin­gle most im­por­tant ac­tiv­ity by which an in­di­vid­ual’s con­tri­bu­tion can be as­sessed.

The per­for­mance level that needs to be de­liv­ered is spec­i­fied in a quan­ti­ta­tive and easy-to-mea­sure man­ner.

A tar­get of per­for­mance to be de­liv­ered within a given sched­ule, e.g. a year, is also pre-agreed.

Such is the “per­for­mance com­mit­ment” that in­di­vid­u­als make with their im­me­di­ate su­per­vi­sor. It comes in the form of a “for­mal per­for­mance con­tract”; and per­for­mance bonuses may then be given to re­ward a higher-than-ex­pected per­for­mance. Al­ter­na­tively, de­mer­its may be im­posed, al­though in these cases every ef­fort has to be made to help in­di­vid­u­als come up to speed and de­liver the out­comes they had com­mit­ted to de­liver.

There are many dif­fer­ent ways of ad­min­is­ter­ing a sys­tem of per­for­mance con­tracts. Dif­fer­ent en­ter­prises may opt for more pos­i­tive ways of en­cour­ag­ing over­per­for­mance and beat­ing per­for­mance ex­pec­ta­tions, with­out al­low­ing the sys­tem to be gamed. The most im­por­tant out­come is for every in­di­vid­ual to be kept on their toes, to work as best as they can, and de­liver out­comes that would most sub­stan­tively has­ten the at­tain­ment of the strate­gic pri­or­i­ties they are ex­pected to make a pos­i­tive con­tri­bu­tion to.

Any such sys­tem must have some hard steel to it, pro­vided this is wrapped with as much vel­vet cover as pos­si­ble, so as to en­cour­age in­di­vid­u­als to keep try­ing more and at­tain­ing ever higher lev­els of ac­com­plish­ment.

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