Because performance management is such a popular term these days, you would expect lots of books being published pushing esoteric new methodologies or describing successful client implementations. I wouldn’t be surprised if I walked into my local bookstore and discovered “Performance Management for Dummies” on the shelf. Oddly, however, this hasn’t happened. There really aren’t that many new books on performance management and, frankly, the ones that I’ve seen lately aren’t very good. For the most part, the world doesn’t need a new methodology and most of the case studies are rarely detailed enough for us to learn anything from them.
That’s why I was pleased last week when I got my copy of “The Performance Power Grid” by Dave Giannetto and Tony Zecca, both of Cohn Consulting Group. A quick glance at the subtitle “The Proven Method to Create and Sustain Superior Organizational Performance” might cause you to be a bit skeptical; after all, it appears to be espousing both a new methodology and a series of case studies. But read a little closer and you’ll discover that the book is quite practical – and useful. In full disclosure, I was given an advance copy of the book and provided the authors with the following endorsement:
“Everyone is talking about performance management. While there are lots of books filled with esoteric theories about how to increase performance in an organization, The Performance Power Grid presents a simple but compelling proposition: If you want to improve your performance, make sure that you et everyone on the same page. Align the organization from boardroom to cubicle and your performance will improve. Practical advice that everyone should heed.”
Readers of this blog will not be surprised that I support their attempts at improving alignment.
But in spending more time with Dave Giannetto and listening to some of his clients, I’ve realized that the book has another compelling point to make: improving performance is not the same as sustaining good performance. To sustain performance – especially over long periods of time – we have to change behavior. And the only proven way to change behavior (outside of dictatorial controlling organizations) is to make people’s lives easier. In other words, people have to prefer the new way of doing things.
How do you do this? At the risk of oversimplifying the book, their answer is to figure out the subset of things that must be done in order to accomplish your goals and to prioritize all efforts on these few things. Giannetto and Zucca call these power drivers. In my own consulting practice, I use a similar approach in helping organization determine what their strategic objectives actually are and which ones are merely nice to have. This so-called wobble test uses the analogy of a four-legged table; if you can remove one of the legs (objectives) and the table doesn’t fall over (organization doesn’t meet its mission), the objective was not really needed.
If you’re interested in performance management, I encourage you to read the book. It’s a short, easy read. And who knows? It might even change your mind.