“Maximise results and improve the bottom line”. These buzz words are here to stay for quite a while longer as companies strive to work towards recovery in the wake of the recession. Referring as much to people as to systems, this focus has boosted business for professionals and consultants working in the field of Performance Improvement. In turn, we have seen new trends and methodologies emerging in this sector, offering ever better solutions and results to the corporate market.

This has been highlighted over the past year by international conferences in the Indianapolis, USA and Warsaw, Poland. In 2014, Indianapolis hosted the 53rd conference of the International Society of Performance Improvement (ISPI), which was followed by the 11th celebration conference of ISPI EMEA (Europe Middle East and Africa) held in Warsaw in September 2014, all of which Belia Nel was invited to speak and share her knowledge and experience in this field.

The central thread throughout these conferences was the endorsement of a proactive and systematic approach to performance issues by identifying the root causes of performance problems rather than just putting a band-aid on the symptoms. Overall it was evident that current methodology is taking a more holistic approach to performance, which is in line with the overall ISPI philosophy.

A further trend that emerged is that organisations are seeking solutions that have a proven track record to deliver results in performance and they prefer to engage with internationally accredited service providers.

Reset your performance results

Performance in any organisation is a complex issue that needs on-going attention. In most cases typical performance challenges include:

  • A high percentage of poor performers within the organisation;
  • The poor alignment of business goals and objectives to individual goals translating to excellent performance;
  • Line management’s lack of skill and objectivity to deal with poor performance and poor performers;
  • Poor work and performance discipline;
  • The perceived lack of fairness of the performance system in meaningfully differentiating between top and poor performance as it relates to both monetary and non-monetary indicators;
  • Out-dated performance management systems not catering for the post-technology generation; and
  • An inability or leniency of management to deal with poor performance, exacerbated by poor internal brand entrenchment.

For all of these challenges, robust and strategic solutions are needed to achieve results in today’s tough economic climate.

Work, worker, workplace, world

Poor performance should be addressed from a systemic and holistic perspective. This means the real inhibitors and enhancers to performance at work (processes and systems), workplace (organisational factors e.g. poor strategy alignment), worker (people) and world (external factors) levels should be identified first. This approach focuses on results, outcomes and added-value to be achieved, i.e. dealing with poor performers and improving organisational performance without the associated risks to the business.

Applying only a performance management system to address poor performance is too narrow and tends to be too reactive. Much better results are gained with a proactive and holistic approach which identifies performance inhibitors and misalignments during the performance process. This should then be followed by a rigorous analysis and solution implementation to address, improve and sustain performance.

Achieving super-performance

The ISPI has introduced a super-performance methodology which addresses both poor performance and poor performers. It’s a super-system that creates a fine balance between dealing with poor performers without alienating top performers who are usually responsible for 80% of organisational performance. Integral to the ISPI’s approach are the 10 International Standards for Performance Improvement that are fast becoming the benchmark for practitioners in this field worldwide. You can read more about it at http://www.ispi.org.

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