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Home / News & Opportunities / Blog / June 2017 / JUSTIN NEALE - CONTINUAL IMPROVEMENT + SUPPORT = SUCCESS

Date: 22/06/2017

This is the last of three articles focusing on performance management. The final episode looks at Continual improvement and support.

Let’s take the example of an annual appraisal - a good method of assessing performance at a point in time for a given period. Let’s say objectives have not been met. The appraisal can be a vehicle to instigate an improvement plan. It is not a disciplinary; more a plan to achieve what was expected in a formal matter. 

Cole (1996) defines this type of appraisal as “…rational and orderly…that is an assessment of employee performance in some systematic and planned way.”

Cole’s workflow for this, in its simplest form, is to appraise, agree action and then make a decision which will be one of the following:

  • Job improvement plan
  • Promotion or transfer
  • Salary review
While this theory’s terminology is somewhat dated, its principles are still used in some format or another on a daily basis when managing performance and improvement. His method embraces the actions which have derived so many iterations in modern day business such as;

  • Plan, Manage, Review, Reward
  • Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve
  • Plan, Do, Check, Act
Prior to a formal process such as appraisal, the manager should always be aware of any changes in traits or team dynamics. There can be numerous indicators such as;

  • Absence and lateness
  • Change in personality
  • Decrease in work rate
Tyler (2007) demonstrates how behaviour can be attributed to problem areas. Tyler uses a pictorial known as “Multiple-cause diagram”, which relates indicators to outcomes (Figure 1). 


Figure 1: Multiple-cause diagram: The Open University Business School

For example, “errors and missed deadlines” can be an indicator caused by unfamiliar equipment, insufficient training, intense supervision and so forth. Understanding the root cause of performance issues will help to define the actions needed to change them.

Using proven methods to support the continual improvement process does not mean disregarding individuality and pushing a staff member out of their comfort zone wholly, but identifying methods and process that assist with the improvement cycle.

Encouraging the individual or team to perform in a different way, or with a different mind-set, by example or influence is not the same as telling them to do something “your way”.

“…do not try to change yourself – it is unlikely to be successful. But work, and hard, to improve the way you perform. And try not to do work of any kind in a way in which you do not perform, or perform poorly.” Drucker

Performance Management is not about just reacting to every issue in sequence, it is a continual review process that a manager should be conducting at all times – and on themselves too! This may be direct or subliminal, a formal process, a notice of change in a colleagues well being, a simple thank you or a reflection on an event.

The equilibrium in a team, department or organisation can shift dramatically and quickly. Understanding individual’s motivators, drives and insecurities – and enhancing, enriching or adapting them, will ultimately increase performance. Embracing continual improvement and offering structured, tailored, relevant and rational support can bring huge benefits to the team and organisation as a whole.

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Justin Neale

Managing Director | Functional ICT Consultant at JN IT Consultancy Limited

I love IT and I take no greater pleasure in seeing technology improve service or process delivery. I have been in this profession since the turn of the millennium and still have the same drive I did then; striving for perfection by delivering IT consultancy aligned with technical relevance and continual improvement, placing customer requirements at the heart of what I do.

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