At TrainingZone Live this morning, Michele Owens of the Olympic Delivery Authority gave an interesting example of how people reacted to different approaches:

“When we first used 360 degree feedback, we used it as a performance management tool. It was not popular. So we left it for a year.

“When we introduced it again, we presented it as a development tool. Completely different, people loved it – and even come to me to ask if they can do it.”

It is a good lesson. It reminds me of a discussion I had with a doctor about two surgeries he knew. One used ‘performance management’ to deal with any problems and had a support staff turnover around 50%. The other focused on creating a good working environment and supporting people. They hadn’t lost a member of staff in years.

It comes back to MacGregor’s Theory X and Theory Y. The standard approach to Performance Management is implicitly based on the Theory X idea that people are lazy and need to be managed to perform. Instead Theory Y poses that people are self-motivated and eager to do great work.

Remember that lesson from ODA: People don’t generally enjoy being performance managed, but they love being developed & improving their ability and performance.

So the key question: Is your organisation’s approach based on believing in your people?

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