Why do we keep talking about managing the performance of others

13 June 2019 | Less than a minute to read

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Why do we keep talking about managing the performance of others

13 June 2019 | Less than a minute to read

< Back to blogs

A client of mine recently mentioned that he was looking for some management training for his team. I asked him if it was management or leadership skills that he felt they were lacking? Often we talk about these two terms as if they were interchangeable. That they mean the same thing and it is only a matter of semantics.

We keep talking about managing the performance of others, but is this even possible?

How many of us can truly put their hand up and say that we can manage our own performance let alone someone else’s?

If you look up a definition for the word management you will read things like, control, direct, decide, plan, organize, budget, co-ordinate. Is this something that we want someone else doing to us? It certainly isn’t a way to get the best performance out of anybody.

If you do a google search like I did before I started writing this article you will see 100’s of different opinions and definitions about leadership what it means and how it is different but inextricably connected to management but then you will still see things written like this…

“10 types of management styles for effective leadership”

Am I the only one confused?! If leadership and management experts can’t agree and don’t understand the difference between leadership and management, how do we expect business owners and directors to know the difference and which skill sets they need to nurture amongst their team  

What are we looking for when we say we are looking for management training? Is this a completely different skill set to Leadership training?  

I would say yes. That these terms can not be interchanged, that they are not inextricably linked. That they fundamentally mean different things. It doesn’t help and adds to the confusion that individuals who are aspiring to lead others in their organization are given the title of manager. And we still talk about managing others.

A foreman in an industrial-era factory didn’t have to give too much thought to how inspired or engaged the workers were. Their job was simply one of management. Organize the work, assign the right people to the necessary tasks, co-ordinate the results. The focus was on efficiency and productivity.

In today’s workplace though, there has been a shift. The ‘workers’ are now recognised to be the most important asset in any organization. Businesses realize that their focus needs to be on the performance of its people as well as efficiency and productivity of their processes and systems. It seemed logical that managers could simply manage this as well. They could manage individual performance. That we could control, direct, organize, systemise and co-ordinate performance. But the reality is you can’t manage individuals to perform at their best. Performance is a leadership skill not one of management.   

We are still trying to blend these two roles. Managers are expected to manage operations, process and systems to maximum efficiency as well as nurturing talent, developing skills and inspiring individuals all leadership skills.

We need leaders to Influence, impact, coach, guide, mentor, inspire, motivate and engage because this is how you get the best performance out of others. This is how you develop talents and skills.

Isn’t it time that we stopped talking about managing performance? That we recognised this kind of language is confusing, misleading and hiders individual development. What if we separated out these two roles? And we trained our managers to manage, organise and plan things and we trained our leaders to listen, empower and engage. What if we looked to our leaders for feedback, praise and development rather than our managers?

It turns out what my client needed was a mixture of both leadership and management training for different individuals. Being able to divide these two roles empowered him to match individuals needs with the right training.