Articles: Blog

"How we manage, is not necessarily aligned with what I believe about people; how I feel we should manage", Chief Executive in workshop.

The Chief Executive and the Lightbulb: How we think about performance management

As I talked, I noticed that the Chief Executive was no longer listening.  She had gone into that state of deep thought, staring up and away into the distance; thinking intensely: thinking about something – I had no idea what.

I decided not to disturb those thoughts for the moment, but to let her ponder, while I continued to talk to the rest of the management team about ways to manage their strategy and performance better. After all, whatever she was thinking about looked important.

I wanted to let her think through whatever it was she was thinking about.  After all, I could always go over things with her later.

After almost ten minutes, I noticed her head and attention was returning to the room. She was nodding slowly to herself, as people do when they have resolved some deep problem, or had realised something important. As her eyes eventually returned to me.

I stopped talking and said, “Sarah, you were clearly thinking deeply about something – may I ask, what was it?” 

She replied:“What matters is how we think about performance management… and what we believe about performance management.”

“It was something you said three slides back. You said:   ‘It is not simply what we do with performance management that matters. What matters is how we think about performance management… and what we believe about performance management.’” 

She continued,

“It was that that set me thinking. Thinking about all the assumptions I make about how I manage this organisation. How we manage this organisation….

“How we manage, is not necessarily aligned with what I believe about people; how I feel we should manage;, and what we are about as an organisation.”

 …it made me realise that how we manage, is not necessarily aligned with what I believe about people; how I feel we should manage and what we are about as an organisation.”

It was one of those lightbulb moments; moments when someone steps out of the problem they are in, to see the wider picture.

They start to question why things are done as they are today.  Underlying beliefs, assumptions and ways of thinking start to change. They start to see a new, better, way of thinking and working.

This is about how we manage: how we choose the management system we want to operate, for our people and our organisation.

Sarah had had one of those moments.

Sarah is a real Chief Executive (though I changed her name).

Sarah and her management team were in day one, of my 3 day Strategic Balanced Scorecard workshop programme.: a programme designed to train, help you develop your 4G Strategic Balanced Scorecard and think about how you manage your organisation.

Sarah faces real issues of Board members, her team, managers, stakeholders, regulators, strategy and planning.  She tackles funding, costs, partners, customers and suppliers.  She works on motivation, culture, teams and people.   All these things, and more, need managing in the organisation. They need attention; they need to work together and perform.

Sarah had realised that the management systems and processes and approaches we operate are based upon a series of beliefs and assumptions about what is “right” and how we should operate.  However, many of those assumptions and beliefs are 20, 30, 40 or even more, years old.

Those assumptions and beliefs are so deeply embedded in how we work, that we take them for granted.  Yet they are no longer appropriate for how we work and manage in the second decade of the 21st century.

Some organisations are already using, applying and learning from these better ways of working and managing:  approaches that create the space for people to perform.  They include new models and ways of working, based upon new beliefs and assumptions about what is right and what we believe about people and our organisations.

Sarah’s lightbulb was the insight that led to changing how she managed her organisation and people: to make changes so she, and her team, could start to manage how they would wish to manage, and be managed.

If you would like to learn how others are finding better ways to manage.  If you are looking for insights and lightbulb moments that will help you and your organisation manage better, then get in touch.

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