CHAPTER 7Eliminating Performance Gaps

Every company CEO with whom I speak talks about some aspect of the performance of their people that they wish to change or improve. In Japan, more than elsewhere, attempts at changing people take on a Sisyphean quality. There is a tendency to ascribe failure to close performance gaps to the so‐called “uniqueness” of Japanese culture. However, as discussed in previous chapters, this is a red herring when it comes to other issues and the same is true when it comes to improving performance. The reason for failure lies not in cultural difference. Rather, there are two reasons:

  1. Prescribing an improper treatment to the cause
  2. Attempting to treat staff performance gaps before that of their managers

Even after implementing many of my recommendations in previous chapters to eliminate refraction layers, performance gaps may stubbornly persist. Once again, the principle of refraction still applies, even though a performance gap may appear to be a capability deficit among lower‐level staff. You must resolve performance gaps at a mid‐level of management as a prerequisite to addressing performance gaps perceived at more junior staff levels. Otherwise, you risk spending lots of time, effort, and money for little or no improvement.

Whenever a company experiences a performance gap, there is often a knee‐jerk reaction to order more training. Before you can even utter the words “personal development plan,” someone in human resources is already requesting ...

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