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: –

  1. Legal reasons – some reports are mandatory as returns to the company’s house
  2. Accountability – to hold people to account
  3. Current situation – to make people report formally on the current situation
  4. Communicate to stakeholders
  5. Special reports – these are reports designed to shape perceptions
  6. Transparency
  7. Good governance

The second set are to do with creating the basis for performance management.

  1. As a basis for performance management
  2. To enable evidence based decisions
  3. To manage expectations by reporting progress so far
  4. To motivate people to achieve certain goals
  5. To obtain insights and manage knowledge
  6. To identify actionable insights
  7. As a precursor to feed-forward planning
  8. To learn from the past to inform future decisions
  9. 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.

Mike Bourne

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