New Approaches to Performance Measurement – June 2018

Facilitated By: Alice Francis

Alice Francis of Approach Human Resources Ltd was our guide for a day discussing Performance Management. In a far-ranging session, Alice provided ‘lessons from Lego’, how to build an onion and questions of life and death regarding the future of performance management. It was an informative and thought-provoking day.

Having considered what we all understood by the term ‘performance management’, we went straight into action. The Lego exercise provided three groups with the same task – building a boat by following Lego’s own instructions – but, it transpired, with three different instructions regarding how the task was to be undertaken. It was instructive to see how varying time pressures, or those to do with logging mistakes, for example, led to such different outcomes in terms of ‘success’ on the task.

The exercise highlighted the different ways in which performance management systems focus people on different outcomes – for themselves and for their organisation. Systems have varied from highly data-intensive and form-filling to the more recent approach of timely ‘constructive conversations’. We also discussed whether and how salary and reward should be linked to performance, or considered separately.

Following on from that we considered the issues to do with performance management systems as the trends have changed and this led into the concept of Alice’s onion – a model for an ‘ideal’ system. At its core is the Big Goal for the system. If an organisation is to put time, effort and money into managing performance, what do they hope to get for that? The other layers are shown on the diagram, with communication providing the outer skin that determines how effectively the system can be implemented.

We ended the day thinking about the implications for those of us in L&D – how should the system, however ‘utopian’, be implemented and how should measurement of the past be converted into the future focus on development needs?

Alice Francis can be contacted at: or 0118 380 5038.

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