Philip Whiteley's Blog

August 13, 2010

Managing for performance would be a culture change

Filed under: Uncategorized — felipewh @ 1:33 pm

Commentator and former Conservative MP Matthew Parris called for it to be made easier for management to dismiss incompetent staff, following abolition of the default retirement age, writing in The Times on 7 August. He seems unaware of how momentous such a move would be. For organisations to be able identify their incompetent staff – and their competent ones – would require a revolution in the entire approach to governance and management. Very few are geared to doing this, because most are run by bean-counters, not people managers. This accountancy-based approach treats all staff as just a cost, not differentiating between good performers and others.

In the case of the call centre industry, for example, capable staff are expressly forbidden from helping customers, because of rules put in place by the spreadsheet brigade. Earlier this year, Kraft took over Cadbury, projecting ‘cost savings’, blithely ignoring the potential costs of losing valuable staff. Sure enough, some 140 executives promptly left. Are they valuable? I don’t know. But I’m sure as anything that Kraft don’t know either.

Abolition of ageism and the retirement age may encourage employers to manage for performance. This will require a revolution in the culture of management, as well as the attitudes of employee rights campaigners. Proper management of performance is prevented more by recent fads in management, than by greater employee rights.

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