Performance Management – A perspective

My friend sent me a story which is pretty popular. It can be found easily in circulation on internet.

The New Donkey and the Dog Story.

There was once a washer man who had a donkey and a dog. One night when the whole world was sleeping, a thief broke into the house, the washer man was fast asleep too but the donkey and the dog were awake. The dog decided not to bark since the master did not take good care of him and wanted to teach him a lesson.

The donkey got worried and said to the dog that if he doesn’t bark, the donkey will have to do something himself. The dog did not change his mind and the donkey started braying loudly.

Hearing the donkey bray, the thief ran away, the master woke up and started beating the donkey for braying in the middle of the night for no reason.

Moral of the story “One must not engage in duties other than his own”

Now take a new look at the same story…
The washer man was a well-educated man from a premier management institute. He had the fundas of looking at the bigger picture and thinking out of the box. He was convinced that there must be some reason for the donkey to bray in the night. He walked outside a little and did some fact finding, applied a bottom up approach, figured out from the ground realities that there was a thief who broke in and the donkey only wanted to alert him about it. Looking at the donkey’s extra initiative and going beyond the call of the duty, he rewarded him with lot of hay and other perks and became his favorite pet.

The dog’s life didn’t change much, except that now the donkey was more motivated in doing the dog’s duties as well. In the annual appraisal the dog managed “ME” (Met Expectations).

Soon the dog realized that the donkey is taking care of his duties and he can enjoy his life sleeping and lazing around.

The donkey was rated as “STAR PERFORMER”. The donkey had to live up to his already high performance standards.

Soon he was overburdened with work and always under pressure and now is looking for a NEW JOB.

I am sure most would have a kind of agreement with this story. Many may even find themselves in the story. I would like to see this story from a different perspective.

From Dogs’ View

Dog’s failure to performed the defined task was compounded with

  1. His inability to learn from experience
  2. He took his status as DOG – A perceived animal for safety

It is not difficult to find such workforce. General characteristic of such people would be

  1. There isn’t much to be done now.
  2. If someone can do my job let him do it, I can take rest.
  3. “Retiring” from job even before they have got retired.

Such people in system has problem in growing and they become someone who exist but not so important.

From Donkeys’ View

Donkey actually did a great start of attempting to do what other are expected to perform. Donkey was promptly rewarded as well. There few important challenges that existed.

  1. Donkey did not develop the overall competency of the Dog
  2. It only copied the dog behavior
  3. The task based performance would always increase the work load on those who perform the task better. The only people can overcome this is by investing their time and resource to build their competency for tomorrow.

Such frustrations are common among hardworking employees.

From the Farmer’s View

Farmer typically represents the Managers and leaders of the organization. They are very happy with the results that are transaction driven. The performance review process do not consider competency factor beyond identifying a standardize list of training that would be required by the employee.

What should we do then?

In today’s business environment, it is necessary that we build our competencies that would enable us to manage varied aspects of business. Hence the old moral of “keeping yourself to your job” is not relevant in most circumstance. This would possibly be relevant to only job roles where experts are required. The challenge is that we are not willing to expect that we are not expert. We somehow believe that if I am successful I have to be an expert. The reality is contrary to this.

While we would need to experiment and do different tasks, it is important that we build ourselves to be proficient in different field. The business organizations require more people who are proficient rather than experts.

  1. We need start looking at Performance Review beyond Appraisal for compensation change decision.
  2. The review of the performance must include Learning aspects of the job and outcome.
  3. Competency Development should be the focus of the Performance Management.
  4. Rewards must consider the competence building factors.
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