5Performance ManagementHow We Fail to Maximize Our Employees' Abilities and Talents

To command is to serve, nothing more and nothing less.

Andre Malraux, French novelist1

For the success of your business you must enable and empower your people to maximize their abilities and strengths, and to maximize their performance.

When it comes to an employee's performance in a professional context we often hear the term “performance management” being used. I believe just by using the word “management” within this term it causes many employees to underperform and many managers to underdeliver in their responsibility to get the best out of their people. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “management” as “the act or skill of controlling and making decisions about a business, department, sports team, etc.”2 I suggest the “etc.” includes people. So, if we are going to control and make decisions around performance, I think we are causing our staff and the business to underperform. Underperformance and wasting talents are real issues—if you are not convinced, ask your customers, both internal and external. So many companies and managers try to control their people and make decisions for them; it is no wonder their staffers turn off and adopt a passive or indifferent attitude.

We have to rethink performance in the workplace. Instead of trying to control our people and make decisions for them—which, let's face it, creates a very narrow and mundane mindset—we need to do exactly the opposite, ...

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