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Work Culture And Performance Improvement Tips

Updated: October 23, 2010 3:39 pm

There is an old but an abiding saying that “one cannot run faster than the train on which one is travelling”. This needs to be perennially kept in mind, while discussing the work culture and performance improvement. No matter, how one plans performance enhancement and participation in a job, it is ultimately the team work and the work culture, prevailing in an organisation, that determines final achievement. Performance excellence models, designs, structures and processes, provide the framework. The culture of an organisation determines the actual proficiency in the implementation of any plan or a task.

                Any worthwhile, performance improvement measure, should put in place, or at least some operational parameters laid down, as to who is to supervise the same and at what level they would be located. This should be unambiguously spelled out. The purpose of the entire exercise should be to achieve the organisational goals, missions and values. The issues of vision, mission and goals needs to be given paramount attention. They should not be left hazy and unclear.

                Vague goals would naturally lead to vague results. Nothing in life is immutable. Theories and methods of working can be refined and improved. But environmental considerations play a lot of role in determining the shades, the colour and the thrust of the achievements.

                At one time in India, socialist theories and nationalisation were the buzz words. Now there is an obsession with privatisation, liberalisation and more free enterprise. Going headlong in one direction, can do little to exclude the reality, that competition, can be both fair and unfair. The sooner it is realised, that the markets cannot be perfect and static, the better it would be for the country and each individual.

                In due course of time, competition can overtake the enthusiasm of the proponents of the market economy. Under these circumstances, it is important to keep under strict control, the tendencies of unresponsiveness and irresponsible and unfettered use of powers in any organisational scheme of things, whether in the private or public sector. The question arises, as to what are they and Where does all this leave us, so far as system improvement module is concerned?

                Here are some suggestions for putting the things in right perspective and focus. The performance improvement measures in the governmental or private sectors are very often undertaken as if governance, both in the government and private sector, is somewhat of an undisputed enterprise.

                This is conceptually unsustainable, because the governance, as a process, is as vibrant and lively as life can be. There is a clear need to divide one’s career into viable segments. For each segment, we should outline a desirable profile. It is a difficult and a tall order, because, at each age and every position we hold in life, we would need, to outline for ourselves as to what kind of person we want to be or want to appear to be. Then we need to work backwards to decide as to what kind of calibre and competence would be required to reach that level.

                To be conscious, of what we want to be, is the first step in reaching your goals. The same principles are required for developing the careers of others in any organisations. Of course, for running a huge organisation or for that a small one, would further require, identifying its purpose and the resources, it can command. Some kind of reward and punishment system, is a must, in any organisation, as, at each stage, goals, as well as resources available would have to be identified and utilised to the optimum.

                Continuity, connectivity of competency and personality profile, while moving, from one stage to another, and indeed throughout one’s entire career, as well as the career of others, working under or with us, is absolutely crucial.

                Organisations divide the careers of their employees into different segments, depending upon the competence, profile and qualifications of the individuals, so that round pegs, are not fitted in square holes. However basic individual, professional characteristics and traits, remain the same in all individual, though some variations of range and depth, can be caused by training and exposure to new ideas and environments. Performance measurement and improvement can take place, substantially in professional competence.

                Improvement in personal characteristics needs consistent and continuous efforts. Nevertheless, coordination between and among the portion of one’s career, should always be kept in view, both by the individual concerned, as well as his organisation, so that the skills gained in one are not lost or unutilised or under-utilised. This would have to be fitted in the organisational goals, missions and values.

                It would require articulation in clear terms, so that each individual is clear about his role in any organisation, and the inputs that are expected from him in terms of selfperformance and development measures.

                The lack of above factors is the chief reason for failures of most organisations, which itself is a kind garden-umbrella term, under which many macro and micro organisations, often pulling in different directions exist. This is the reason, when people jocularly say that public work, is nobody’s work.

                Accounting for the performance or for improving one’s competence should be a part of any organisation performance improvement, is only possible through performance planning, performance feedback, coaching, counselling and finally performance appraisal. Performance improvement management systems vary from place to place and from organisation to organisation.. Each has its own raison d’être and its own rationale and serves a useful purpose. It is open to each organisation, to make a conscious choice or choices. But one needs to be clear in one’s own mind. A conceptual clarity is a must. No performance improvement system is either possible or workable, unless one is clear on the job substance and the job configuration. This is corresponding, to management of an expert system. Nevertheless, for effective functioning, standards need to be evolved and monitoring systems put in place. At each job, it is important to list the inputs and so that required output could be anticipated.

                Equally all performance, including an individual performance is bound to be affected, by approach by the team of which, one is a member. Wherever any work requires a team work and not an individual performance, an integration of collective performance and individual performance capabilities, would need to be brought about. The concepts and techniques of performance or accomplishment improvement, get amplified in every age. The performance improvement systems require a second look and restructuring, depending on parameters of design, process, structure, interpretation and implementation with constant objective of introducing new improvement features from time to time, depending upon the aims and goals. This may appear difficult but is an achievable target. Any performance improvement evaluation, is as significant as the people managing it, want it to be.

By Joginder Singh

The writer is former Director, CBI

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