Leadership Development & Performance Management – The Search for Meaning

By James Jones | Small Business

Leadership Development & Performance Management – The Search for Meaning image peter fonda and dennis hopper in easy rider2Leadership Development & Performance Management – The Search for Meaning

Leadership Development

Research undertaken by the CIPD recently found that 72% of organisations reported a deficit in leadership and management skills, even though two-thirds of organisations claim to provide training for their managers. However, as I pointed out in my previous article, this training may not be delivering much value.

The report also highlighted that only 36% of organisations say that individuals promoted into managerial roles receive additional training, with 51% saying ‘sometimes’, and 12% providing no training at all for new managers. Central to these failings is that efforts to foster positive manager behaviours are being undermined by the lack of a consistent message of what organisations expect of leaders.

Commenting on the research, Ksenia Zheltoukhova the CIPD’s research associate, stated that:

It’s time for business to identify and address the roots of bad management, recognising that a more consistent approach to training and supporting leaders at all levels of an organisation is needed to drive sustainable performance.

Performance Management

According to Mercer’s 2013 Global Performance Management Survey, conducted on 1,050 organisations in 53 countries, ”just 3% of organisations worldwide report their overall performance management system provides exceptional value”. Top of the list, in terms of the key drivers behind this, is the skill of managers in how successfully they set employee goals, provide feedback, evaluate performance, and link performance to critical talent management decisions.

Only 58 per cent of managers were deemed ‘marginally skilled in providing career development coaching and direction’, by survey respondents, and, only 7 per cent of managers were felt to be ‘highly skilled at having candid dialogued with their direct reports about performance’.

In summary then, what the research by both the CIPD and Mercer is telling us is that businesses feel there is a deficit in leadership and management skills, and this is impacting on how successfully employees are performance managed and developed in the workplace. But a major part of the problem is the lack of clear strategy when it comes to developing leaders within the workplace. So what is it then that businesses can be do to try and deal with these issues?

The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

In order to try and improve this gap between leadership skills and performance management, businesses need to think differently about what they believe makes managers truly effective, and then develop a learning and development strategy around this. As pointed out in this article:

The best companies for leadership recognise that … high levels of emotional intelligence, commitment to continuous learning and analytical thinking are now critical at every level of the organisation.

At every level of the organisation, staff are looking for more meaning in the work lives and management need to be aware of this if performance management is to be effective. The traditional notions of “carrot and stick” to motivate staff will not deliver high performance, it is only likely to produce donkeys. Instead, managers need training and developing on what is required to manage the workforce in the modern economy.

The MAP to Success

Within this video, Daniel Pink talks about research which goes against the dominant thinking that if you want people to perform better you reward them. Within his presentation he talks about research that has consistently shown that in tasks that require even “rudimentary cognitive skill”, offering people larger rewards leads to poorer performance. This is because traditional rewards aren’t always as effective as we think, they narrow the mind and focus; meaning that people can be less creative. Instead, if you want to foster a creative workplace, people need to have the following in their working lives:

  • Mastery – the desire to become better at something that matters
  • Autonomy – the urge to direct our own lives
  • Purpose – the need to contribute to something greater than ourselves

In effect, what businesses need to do, is develop a clear performance management strategy that equips managers with the tools to deal with staff in the knowledge economy of the 21st century. This will allow them to foster environments were creative, right-brain thinking is encouraged and people are self directed. Employees now will not blindly follow what they are told by their managers, and will instead look for more purpose and meaning in their working lives, as such businesses need to recognise this if performance management is to improve.

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