Not so long ago I saw the leader of a UK council quoted as saying that their chief executive’s post was to be advertised for the first time with a performance-related element and that he hoped to extend that eventually to the council’s whole workforce.

As a systems/lean thinking enthusiast my heart sank.

Politicians cannot be expected to have expert knowledge of every subject that impacts on their roles.

But who advises them?

Someone should tell the anonymous leader

  • the greater part of anyone’s performance is determined by the organisation’s systems not how hard or effectively they try to work as individuals
  • relating pay directly to supposed performance profoundly misunderstands the psychology of human motivation
  • it is in effect associating performance with punishment and reward rather than people’s intrinsic motivation to do their best
  • it is divisive and makes it difficult if not impossible to optimise the performance of the whole organisation as workers struggle to optimise their own position.

Maybe the new CE will take the leader on one side and explain quietly that this is not the way to get the best out of their employees.  I live in hope.