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Academic Interview: Martin Kunc

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dataIn 2017, the Performance Magazine editorial team interviewed Martin Kunc, Associate Professor of Management Science at the Warwick Business School, United Kingdom. His thoughts and views on Performance Management are detailed below.
The main challenge today is to have a balanced approach to performance management and to avoid falling into “performance managerialism”.

Trends

  1. Which were the 2016 key trends in Performance Management, from your point of view?

Analytics has become an important aspect in the discussion of performance management as a tool to design performance management systems and as a decision support system for performance management. The amount of data that these provide offer an organization’s leaders the opportunity to find every pain point, every weakness and also garner enough information to build a remedy.

  1. What are your thoughts on the integration of Performance Management at the organizational, departmental and employee level?

Performance management is still a predominant aspect at the organizational, departmental and employee level, and it has proven to have quite an impact.

  1. Which will be the major changes in managing performance, in the future?

Managing performance will become more sophisticated with the introduction of multiple dimensions based on the rise of analytics and data. However, the cognitive aspect of managing performance is still years away of being fully understood.

Research

  1. What aspects of Performance Management should be explored more through research?

The predominant aspect that should be explored more is the integration of cognitive dimensions in performance management, especially the impact of complexity on managers’ cognitive abilities to fully utilize performance management.

  1. Which organizations would you recommend to be looked at, due to their particular approach to managing performance, and their subsequent results?

I believe that Google should be more closely looked at, taking into account its many results in the field of performance management, as well as its approach to it.

  1. Which of the existing trends, topics or particular aspects within Performance Management have lost their relevance and/or importance, from your point of view?

I have noticed that financial performance has completely lost its relevance due to the stronger impact of the stock market performance.

Practice

  1. Which are the main challenges of Performance Management in practice, today?

The main challenge today is to have a balanced approach to performance management and to avoid falling into “performance managerialism”, e.g. the abuse of measures to drive behavior.

  1. What should be improved in the use of Performance Management tools and processes?

I think that the integration of soft variables needs to be improved substantially and that there should be less reliance on hard transactional data.

  1. What would you consider as a best practice in Performance Management?

One best practice is reflected in the fact that we can use performance management to liberate the potential existing in organizations, rather than using it to constrain organizations, which would be performance managerialism.

Education

  1. Which aspects of Performance Management should be emphasized during educational programs?

Educational programs should place more emphasis on performance management with a multi-dimensional focus, incorporation of analytics, the understanding of soft variables and the use of systems thinking. My book – Kunc, 2008 Management Decision paper stands as a reference point, for anyone that is curious.

  1. What are the limits that prevent practitioners from achieving higher levels of proficiency in Performance Management?

Some of the limits that prevent practitioners from achieving higher levels of proficiency in performance management are: narrow mindedness, reliance on financial and transactional data, and spreadsheet modelling. Narrow mindedness prevents them from broadening their horizons and working with different types of people; reliance on financial and transactional data limits their information coverage; and spreadsheets can be misread.

Personal Performance

  1. What is your opinion on the emerging trend of measuring performance outside working hours?

This is very bad from a privacy perspective and it will reduce productivity inside working hours, because feeling under constant pressure to perform will decrease employees’ productivity, and it will make them feel that they are losing their privacy.

  1. What personal performance measurement tools do you use?

This is a private matter and I feel that it should be the same for everyone.

Specific Question – Academics

  1. We are developing a database of subjects/degrees in Performance Management. What are your suggestions relevant to the database (i.e. subjects/degrees such as the Master’s in Managing Organizational Performance)?

I would like to suggest a Master in Business Analytics or related degrees. For example, the Warwick Business School has undergraduate courses in international management and management, a doctoral programme in Business Administration and a post-grad degree in Business Analytics.

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