The Performance Generator: a toolkit for people managers

The Vlerick Centre for Excellence in People Performance has published a practical guide to managing employee performance called The Performance Generator. This toolkit is full of questionnaires, frameworks and exercises – all developed from extensive research conducted over the past several years.

Managing people in a professional way is a major challenge for every organisation. But doing so can work wonders: good teamwork can result in better productivity and more creativity, and team spirit is a time-honoured source of positive energy. Still, for a group of people to work together constructively, managers have got to get the team members’ noses all pointing in the same direction – without losing sight of their individual concerns and expectations.

So, how do you strengthen the capabilities that are so vital to managing people and performance? According to The Performance Generator, the first step is to generate positive energy – so that employees are motivated and eager to perform. This can be done most effectively by creating empowering jobs, binding people and rewarding talent. Then, the all-important second step is to channel or direct this energy into activities that contribute to the organisation’s objectives. Two key ways to accomplish this are through effective goal-setting and by stimulating high-impact feedback.

5 Crucial Skills

These, then, constitute 5 skills that are crucial to generating employee energy and focusing it productively. The Performance Generator provides tools to support people managers in developing these abilities:

  • Creating empowering jobs – focusing on the link between empowerment, job content and motivation, so that the employees’ talents can be used optimally
  • Connecting and binding people – focusing on how to maintain social relations and build bridges. Including the various steps managers can take towards creating high-performance teams
  • Rewarding talent – because remuneration is more than salary alone, managers can play a leading, tone-setting role in rewarding talent
  • Setting goals – well-defined objectives focus team members on what is important and guide their efforts in fruitful directions
  • Giving feedback – and to have an ongoing impact on performance, objectives must be combined with constructive, effective feedback

More Research Findings

Over the past few years, Vlerick’s Centre for Excellence in People Performance has conducted three intensive research studies into Performance Management:

  • From HR’s perspective (2006) – this study revealed the Performance Management (PM) success factors from HR’s viewpoint: the use of objectives, PM training for everyone involved, and maintaining PM as an ongoing process
  • From the Employee’s perspective (2008) – this study noted that employees perceive large differences in leadership quality, while they also relate leadership quality directly to PM involvement. Formal PM has added value above informal people and performance management
  • From Line Management’s perspective (2010) – the two previous studies lead up to this investigation of Line Management’s perspective. Line managers definitely feel that HR support is important to PM effectiveness. Furthermore, line management seems to encourage HR to become more active in providing support, mainly by greater formalisation of, and clearer communication about, the PM process

With regard to HR support for the PM process, Prof Koen Dewettinck draws a couple of lessons from the study’s examination of performance evaluation discussions: “Line managers believe that evaluation discussions are indeed important – but they feel a lack of support from HR and from top management as well. The managers think they are conducting these discussions well, but their employees still see a lot of room for improvement.”

The HR department, in particular, does not score very well in our study. Maybe HR should also ask itself how it can strengthen its own competencies?

Prof Koen Dewettinck, Vlerick Business School


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