In my last blog, I discussed some of the systemic problems with performance management but they are dwarfed by the most fundamental stumbling block – the people involved!

If performance really is about potential without the bothersome issue of interference (The Inner Game of Tennis/Work – Gallwey), then anybody who manages others needs to really understand what interference is and how to deal with it.

My view is that most of what gets in the way of achieving goals exists at a level below observable behaviour, so put your lists of behavioural indicators away for a moment and ponder the following:

  • Poor values fit – some cultures suit some people better than others. If you are managing a clash of values, then front up to it and talk about it as it’s not going to go away by itself.
  • Limited self-knowledge – many people have capability and reputational blind spots; leadership is often about raising awareness in others without making them feel defensive. This is a subtle art and not helped by a box-ticking approach to feedback.
  • Limiting beliefs – everyone entertains beliefs about themselves – what they can and cannot do; what they think other people think of them and what they think their potential is. For many people these beliefs are the result of scripts that were written a long time ago, but that doesn’t mean that they are accurate or helpful.
  • Limiting self-image – scrape the surface and you might find all sorts of labels that people have incorporated into their identity. Some of these labels are useful but many have just been inherited and live on relatively unquestioned

Dealing with these things requires coaching skills. They take time to learn and mastering them isn’t meant to be easy – so if you want great performance, develop great performance managers!

Next time – why some people don’t respond to feedback.