Benefits of Performance Reporting
David Anker has been blogging about the shortfalls of performance reporting. His argument is that performance reporting isn’t performance management, an argument I wholeheartedly agree with.
However, performance reporting is not without its merits. Below are a number of reasons why it can be useful.
But first what do we mean by performance reporting? Here, I define performance reporting as sending information on performance up the organisation to supervising management or functions, or outside the organisation to stakeholders.
I have broken these into several different reasons. The first set are to do with the reporting elements: –
- Legal reasons – some reports are mandatory as returns to the company’s house
- Accountability – to hold people to account
- Current situation – to make people report formally on the current situation
- Communicate to stakeholders
- Special reports – these are reports designed to shape perceptions
- Good governance
The second set are to do with creating the basis for performance management.
- As a basis for performance management
- To enable evidence based decisions
- To manage expectations by reporting progress so far
- To motivate people to achieve certain goals
- To obtain insights and manage knowledge
- To identify actionable insights
- As a precursor to feed-forward planning
- To learn from the past to inform future decisions
- To identify low and high performance and performers
Then we can also talk about all the other factors, the “comfort blanket” and making us “look good”.
But the real issue is what we do with the reports. Reporting has a benefit in itself from the first list, but reports are only the start of the governance or performance management process. People have to come together to review the reports, to understand what they mean before decisions are made. That process usually requires greater insights than the data provides, requiring further analysis and judgement. So the management of the review process is an important additional step if good decisions are to be made and the right actions taken.
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Mike, absolutely agree with you on first defining what we mean by Performance Reporting, and your definition is the first clear articulation of this. That is most helpful. Hence, the obvious merits for your first class of reasons 1 through 7.
I am not so sure about reasons 8 through 16 though! So rather than picking one or more, what would be perhaps more useful would be a definition of what we mean by Performance Management!. Now my final blog (yes, Part 6 to come – and I’ll be glad when it’s finished as well!) will offer up what I believe is as thorough a definition as I am capable of, but our “glib” phrase up to now has been “Act on the Right Things”, and “Act in the Right Way” (having properly established Performance Measurement characterised as “Measure the Right Things” and “Measure the Right Way”).