Executive Performance Assessments

BusinessmanFor all those performance management specialists out there, what is the most effective prescription to assess, manage and drive the performance of senior company executives?

Like all experts, we start off by saying “it depends”.

Performance assessment systems are usually built around achieving predetermined deliverables ranging from financial to non-financial and also including some discussion and feedback around behavioral competencies. We often overlay this system with various weightings that reflect our company values.

What are your thoughts on a system that only uses a financial concept to determine value add by an Executive without any consideration of behavioral competencies? There seems to be a trend in this direction, but let me qualify that, as it’s a trend only based on observation within my own environment. I am not quite sure if this is a Caribbean thing, or a Capitalistic thing, or if we just following the “God given instructions by a Board of Directors in their infinite wisdom”.

Should this myopic construct gain traction, we will be making a number of assumptions about senior executives and leadership on the whole. One such assumption is that once someone is in a position of executive leadership, there is little or no need to meaningfully or substantively review behaviours that may or may not reflect the company’s core values.

We assume at senior levels, behaviours like shouting at staff among an audience filled space, or asking a direct report to compromise data or not fully disclose data or fudging numbers, or passing the buck, or using confidential information in a reckless manner are not existent or not relevant. There is a plethora of behaviours that can mushroom without some level of applied scrutiny.

We have a generation that is growing at warp speed; they have access to more information in one week than someone had in their whole lifetime back in the 1800’s. Technical competencies are increasingly being conquered at a younger and younger age, but the warp speed growth does not seem to mirror itself as far as the behaviours are concerned. What do we end up with? We have very smart or intelligent individuals without true wisdom or humanity leading our companies, nations and by extension the world.

As our executives quickly rise through the ranks, they may not be humble, mature, and may not play fair and because there is no redress, they do what is necessary to achieve the financial objective and in the eyes of all, they are celebrated as a success. I venture to say that this modus operandi is certainly not sustainable for the organisation or for the individual; as my mother says “the longest rope has an end”.

It is sad but true that people who find themselves in situations like this where negative behaviours seem to bring success, need a failure to re-set reality, and they need to take two steps back to really make one step forward.  They require executive coaching to help them along the leadership path where they can gain and or develop the wisdom, learn the true value of people and the priceless notion of respect and discretionary effort by an engaged workforce.

Ken Blanchard and Marc Muchnick’s book called the “Leadership Pill” talks about integrity, partnership, affirmation and about the perfecting the blend where the highest achievement as a leader is “Winning the Respect and Trust of your Team”. We are all familiar with the sayings “What gets measured gets done” and “what gets rewarded gets done”.

If we are only measuring and rewarding financial or economic value, we actually impede our long term growth. What will we end up with some years from now with a reward and performance assessment system that is not aligned with our core values?

Denise Ali