It is that time of the year again ! Expectation is in the air. HR is busy rating people as the Good, the Bad and the Ugly while employees are waiting with bated breath for the revelations on their performance and the valuation of their effort. As somebody who is a 100% believer in the power of concerted performance and its impact on companies, businesses and the society, I am always disappointed with the way companies waste such a powerful tool for merely justifying differential compensation and expectation management.
While I agree with the premise of linking compensation and rewards with performance, I see that only as an incidental outcome and not ideally as a desirable outcome. The process in most companies is definitely endangered with a faulty administration of the linked premise. Performance is driven by passion and compensation and rewards cannot buy passion. The logic is more relevant in the case of executive compensation. Likewise linking non - performance to an exit on the premise of "perform or perish" again appears to be a skewed notion. Performance and consistent and sustained performance cannot be delivered by people living in constant pressure of survival. A too constant a pressure for performance is indeed a shortcut to an overheated organization headed towards a quick decay. I feel that performance ought to be linked to more of personal achievement factors intrinsic to the job and not necessarily extrinsic factors. In fact while linkage of rewards and compensation to performance is inevitable, a continuous focus on the process of performance and achieving performance is what can make all the difference between an organization and a high performance organization.
So what drives performance ? One Word - Passion. Period.
Passion being a precursor to Performance thus being a given, the challenge moves to the design of an organization structure which employs passion at work. Build passion into jobs and the entire fabric falls into place. Unfortunately there cannot be hardwired formula for an organization's software - Hard is easy - soft is not !
- As organizations progress or aspire to progress towards high performance they have to take the quantum leap of transforming themselves to be more focussed on the softer side. Passion gets developed on its own and in time. How can companies which are in a tearing hurry, wait for employees develop a passion for their jobs ?
- Passion is more personal - its cause and effect is not affected by extrinsic rewards & compensation. Passion is surely linked with a sense of achievement - a sense of joy, a sense of jubiliation. The sense of jubiliation again is not aimed at playing for the crowds. It is aimed at the play to one's own self. It is linked to self esteem and a sense of self worth.
- In an organization in a steady state, the transition to a high performance organization can be frustrating. While the organization structure - people, practices, technology and information are the essential prerequisites in the organizations journey to the next level, the application of passion for performance rests on liberation. A freedom from the control centricity of the organizations, freedom from conformity and freedom from whatever the structure aims to achieve.
The solution to this bind presents itself through developing organizational units which can be called Centres of Passion. The CoPs unlike perhaps like Centers of Excellence shall be operational units focussed on achievement of the core objectives of the organization.
A High Performance organization presupposes systems, practices precedences. So while marketing has a passion for developing business and reaching out to new markets, new customers on a daily basis, the finance gets into the passionate search for funds for fueling this acquisition...the HR gets passionate with ensuring a supply of the right people for the jobs. Objective Setting gets redundant, measures get redundant - nothing but performance matters - performance takes the centrestage.
- The agenda for the management changes from motivating for higher targets to that of balancing passions. Teamwork gets a new meaning with teams negotiating ways out in helping others achieving the common passion.
- Conflicts get constructive on their own. Innovation, creativity, productivity and profits get unleashed bringing forth the necessity for restraints and balance.
- The bureaucracy gives way to enabling processes. The movement gets for the emphasis shifts to foward movement from an iterative or backward moving processes.
- The role of a CEO changes from aspiring to managing aspirations.
The synergistic change will certainly bring about a total positive and exponential turnaround in the companies fortunes.The future of such companies is insured. It is sad that the organizations today are designed around an absolutely reverse logic. Conflicts and suspended animation are inevitable in such organizations.
For building organizations around the core premise of employing passion for performance, the tenets of traditional organization theory will have to be turned on its head. Thus instead of recruitment or talent acquisition the organization will have people queing up to be part of organizations which share their passion. Measurements of ability abound...passion defies measurement, yet is easily evident.
Performance does not call for assessments and appraisal. Assessment is for merely bringing visibility to a managers efforts and for course corrections and feedback. The linkage to rewards and compensation is merely a commercial necessity !
So next time this time of the year gets close - just get passionate !