Monthly Archives: December 2011

Performance Management, Is it Really that Tough?


The most common complain we hear from new managers, seasoned managers, experience managers, inexperienced managers is lack of performance by team members. Performance management has been an organizational issue for ages now and there are no quick recipes for the same. What needs to be understood by all of us is that with concerted efforts, we will be tackle this common problem very effectively.

What is Performance Management? 

Performance management is the process of creating a work environment or setting in which people are enabled to perform to the best of their abilities. Giving a twist to the same, is it performance managed by each individual which adds up to process performance which in turn adds up to organizational performance?  If we were to put a jigsaw puzzle together, we would understand how performance of each and every individual adds up at the end of the year to create that magic for the organization.

Performance is most often misunderstood as we tend to look at performance in terms of Individual Performance and Team Performance.  We need to understand that performance in any organization matters in 3 ways or works at 3 levels:

  1. Business or Organizational PM
  2. Process Performance Management
  3. Individual Performance Management
This is illustrated by the “Three Level Framework” by Rummler and Brache. This Framework looks at performance as
  1. Organization level
  2. Process level
  3. Job/performer level
Here is a very effective illustration of the same:

 

Level of Performance Goals Design Management
Organizational Level  Organization Goals Organization Design Organization Management
Process Level  Process Goals Process Design Process Management
Job/Performer Level Job Goals Job Design Job Management

 

In this particular blog, we will focus on individual/job/performer level before discussing the performance of Process/Organization at a later stage.  This particular level looks at the job and and the performers who carry out the job.

 

“If capable, well-trained people are placed in a setting with clear expectations, minimal task interference, reinforcing consequences, and appropriate feedback, then they will be motivated.” – Geary Rummler and Alan Brache, (1990)

 

After reading innumerable books on performance management, the most effective approach that I have found over the years is Management by Objectives by Peter Drucker.  “Management By Objectives” term was first popularized by Peter Drucker in 1954 in his book ‘The Practice of Management’.

Performance management using a management-by-objectives (results-based) approach has three phases:

•Phase 1 – Planning

•Phase 2 – Monitoring

•Phase 3 – Reviewing
This can also be referred to as the “Performance Management Cycle”
Planning:  The start of Performance Management Cycle is characterized by Planning.  Planning involves identifying, clarifying and agreeing upon expectations with the team member.  Most of the managers do identify expectations clearly and clarify them too but fail to put in proper mechanisms to measure results.  Hence, two very important things to do in the planning phase are:
  1. To put clear measurements in place to calibrate results
  2. Put in mechanisms in place to monitor progress.
We could be fire fighting every single day and not bother about measuring results in a consistent and timely manner to monitor progress.  This will have a negative impact on the employee if he/she is not forewarned,  in case results are not going in the desired direction much before the appraisal time.
Monitoring :  Monitoring involves evaluating progress made by the team member/employee in a consistent and timely manner for example, tracking the progress every day, week, monthly, quarterly etc.  Apart from tracking performance, monitoring also involves taking corrective actions as warrranted.
Review:  Reviewing performance and evaluating it go hand in hand.  Most of us believe in quarterly, half yearly and yearly review cycle.
We will be discussing each phase in detail over the ensuing blogs!
Happy Reading!

 

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More on Goals and Methods Matrix (Revisiting Turner and Cochrane)


I came across a very interesting piece while trying to research on different types of projects.  This includes stumbling on the “Goals-and-methods matrix: coping with projects with ill defined goals and/or methods of achieving them” by J R Turner and R A Chocrane  published in Vol II No 2 May 1993 in International Journal for Project Management.  I could not resist sharing a few points on the same with all of you.

Turner and Cochrane judge the projects based on two parameters:

  • whether the goals are well defined
  • whether the methods of achieving them are well defined

The resulting 2 x 2 matrix, which is called in this paper the goals-and-methods matrix, implies four types of project:

Type-l projects: for which the goals and methods of  achieving the project are well defined
Type-2projects: for which the goals are well defined but the methods are not
Type-3 projects: for which the goals are not well defined but the methods are
Type-4 projects: for which neither the goals nor the methods are well defined

This concept leads to the definition of four types of project:

Type-l projects: In these projects, the goals and methods are well defined. They are typified by large engineering projects.  These projects have been called the “Earth Projects” after the four traditional elements that is they are well defined with a solid foundation.

Type-2 projects: In these projects, the goals are well defined, but the methods of achieving them are not. They are typified by product-development projects.  These are “Water Projects” like a turbulent stream, they flow with a sense of purpose, but in an apparently haphazard way.

Type-3 projects: In these projects, the goals are not well defined, but the methods are. These are typified by software-development projects, in which it is notoriously difficult to specify the users’ requirements. The goals are known to exist, but cannot be specified precisely until users begin to see what can be produced, often during the testing stages.  These are “Fire Projects” much heat can be generated in the definition of the work, but they can burn with no apparent purpose.

Type-4 projects: In these projects, neither the goals, nor the method of achieving them, are well defined. They are typified by organizational-development projects. These are “Air Projects” they are very difficult to catch hold of, and deliver ‘blue-sky’ research objectives.

Turner adds a very interesting dimension to the project to diffrentiate a project from day-to-day operations. He says that the project should be:

1.  Unique (work done should unique)

2.  The organization should be novel

3.  The Change is unitary.

Turner and Cochrane suggests 3 breakdown structures for the projects.

In reverse order, they are as follows:

Product breakdown structure (PBS): This is a cascade of deliverables, in which the overall product or objective of the project is broken into subproducts, assemblages and components. It is a bill of materials for the project.

Organization breakdown structure (OBS): This is a cascade of resource types, skill types or activities. At high levels, the names may be similar to what are often called the ‘phases’ of a project: design, development, procurement, production, assembly, and testing. At lower levels, they are specific resource types: mechanical engineers, COBOL programmers etc.

Work breakdown structure (WBS): At any level of breakdown,  the 2-dimensional matrix of products and activities
define a task matrix, the sequence of activities required to deliver each product. The cascade of task matrices is the work breakdown structure for a project.

It is very interesting to see how Turner and Cochrane actually marry the breakdown structures and types of projects.

Type I Projects: or the “large engineering projects”  the PBS, OBS and WBS are all well defined.  Project managers treat Product Breakdown Structure and the Work Breakdown Structure as the same thing.  The Client Requirement Document or the Project Definition Report sets the basis of the project. The role of the project Manager is that of leader leading the skilled team through well defined set of activities

Type II Projects:  or the “product development projects”, the Product Breakdown Structure is well defined but Work Breakdown Structure that is the task matrix or precise sequence of events/activities involved in achieving a deliverable is not well defined. The Project Manager needs to put together multi-disciplinary team which should be very knowledgeable to define the methods required for the project to succeed.  The group needs to brainstorm to ensure that all angles or avenues are explored to choose the correct methodology for the project. Once the Task Matrix of the exact sequence of events is ready, the Project Manager should step back to ensure that the players are on their own.

Type III Projects: or the “Software Development Projects” the PBS is not well defined but WBS is partially defined.  The typical sequences of tasks required to achieve the deliverable are well known, but the precise form of the deliverable is not.   Hence the problem in Type III Project is more of defining the precise objectives and the purpose of the project. This calls for negotiation between project team and the project sponsor to understand the deliverable needed from the project.

Type IV Projects:  or the “Organizational Developmental Project” neither PBS nor WBS is well defined. The objectives, goals, methods and activities required need to constantly iterated.  The project manager needs to be very creative and strategic in these cases.

This piece of literature from Turner and Cochrane very clearly defines how we can overcome difficulties that we can face in projects which are not well defined in terms of Goals and Methods.  Absolutely fabulous piece of information shared in detail on the following link:

http://ife2010.wikispaces.com/file/view/or+methods+of+achievin+them.pdf

Happy Reading!

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First Understand the Type of Project! (Before Writing Project Charter)


Projects are often confused, misunderstood, overlapped, and go out of scope. It could be because of lack of understanding by the Project Manager to understand type of project he/she is tackling. Understanding the type of project is very important to understand the scope of the project (goals of the project) and also to execute the project in the correct manner.

A very useful matrix to understand the type of project is the “Goals and Methods” Matrix.  The Goals and Methods Matrix has been developed by Turner and Cochrane and it is of great help to understand only to understand the type but also the scope of the project.

Here is the “Goals and Methods Matrix”

Goals and Methods Matrix

Type I Projects:  Buildings and IT Installations

Type II Projects:  Software Development

Type III Projects:  Product Development

Type IV Projects:  Research/Organizational Change Projects

From the chart, it is very clear that large projects like building and IT installations projects have well defined goals as well as methods whereas projects involving around organizational change might not have well defined goals or methods.

If you are able to slot your projects in one of the square  then it is easy to estimate if  the goals and methods are well defined. When goals and methods are well defined, the Project Manager need not have to spend time meeting stakeholders time and again to titrate goals and for setting or changing objectives. But for projects which do not have a clearly defined goal or method, repeat meetings with stakeholders to gather more and more requirements, set objectives, and evaluate options becomes very important.

Each type of project is unique in its objectives, milestones, timelines and project charter. All projects cannot be dealt with the same project management techniques.  The Project Manager has to customize his approach based on the project he/she is handling.  Hence it is very important to define the appropriate project plan based on the project.

Millions of dollars are wasted year upon year by project managers who use the same approach for all kinds of project. Project Managers need to realize that one size cannot fit all the projects.  Detailed attention to Project Plan/Charter based on the project is the key to set the pace of the project and also in executing the project successfully.

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