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Expert Interview: Jarlath Fernando, Analyst – Strategy Planning at Dubai World – Imdaad, UAE



The KPI Institute’s reports Performance Management in 2014 and Performance Management in 2014: GCC Special Edition continue the standards established by the previous editions, which consist in gathering and compiling opinions from practitioners, academics and consultants alike, in order to gain a balanced perspective on the state of the discipline. In 2014, Mr. Jarlath Fernando, Analyst – Strategy Planning at Dubai World – Imdaad, UAE was one of the professionals who offered us rich insights into Performance Management practice. 

“The ultimate objective of Performance Management is to make informed decisions, take corrective actions and make relevant adjustments to continuously improve the overall performance of an organization”.

  1. What does the term Performance Management mean to you?

Performance Management is a combination of methods, tools and processes used to align the individual, departmental and organizational levels within a company, in order to ensure the achievement of the organization’s strategic objectives. It involves formulating and defining clear objectives, well-defined and well-articulated goals, setting up of relevant KPIs and monitoring the achievement of clearly-specified targets. The ultimate objective of Performance Management is to make informed decisions, take corrective actions and make relevant adjustments to continuously improve the overall performance of an organization.

  1. What drives interest in Performance Management?

As an upcoming practical discipline in the organizational arena, factors that drive interest in the field of Performance Management would be as follows:

  1. a) Improving organizational performance: aimed at increasing efficiency, productivity, process improvements, and the need to make informed decisions by taking corrective actions.
  2. b) Alignment to the organizational strategy: alignment of individual and departmental objectives to the overall strategy, in order to ensure all activities and resources are in line with set targets.
  3. c) Extreme pressure from external competitive forces: in order to cope with increasing dynamism and competitiveness, Performance Management should be seen as an advantage enabler in the form of informed decision making by availability of analytical data and increased commitment from the leadership team.
  1. What are your thoughts on the relationship between Performance Management at organizational, departmental and individual level?

In theory, organizational, departmental and individual levels need to be aligned leading to superior performance. However, in reality, this may be challenging in terms of aligning different objectives and measures between different levels.

All too often, it has been observed that there are various practical and implementation difficulties between setting up of mutually agreed objectives, putting in place the designed measures and tracking their performances. As a result, employee involvement in the whole performance management exercise fails, leading to a hostile culture. Thus, it is very important that there is alignment between the differing levels in an organization and coherence in the various objectives and measures used in achieving organizational strategic goals.

  1. What are the 2014 key trends in Performance Management from your point of view?

Introduction of Innovative tools in the performance management field, data analytics, increased focus on customer-centric issues & interest in the strategic planning area.

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

Optimal KPI selection & review practices, data gathering via software integrations and effectively dealing with the various cultural aspects involved in implementing Performance Management techniques in an organization.

  1. Which companies would you recommend to be looked at, due to their particular approach to Performance Management and subsequent results?

Apple, Google, Microsoft, Samsung, Barclays Bank, TCS, Abu Dhabi Govt. are some of the organizations that I would recommend.

  1. Which are the main challenges in today’s Performance Management practice?

The main challenge observed is slowness in the adoption of performance management systems, caused mainly by resistance to change and misunderstanding of the tools and processes involved. Another challenge observed is that there is often more focus on financial aspects only. In regions such as the GCC, it is often difficult to obtain data for benchmarking purposes as well.

As mentioned above, other common challenges come from KPI selection, alignment of objectives and measures, target setting or Individual Performance Management.

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

Heightened awareness and exposure of the tools and processes, coupled with creating a proper environment in the organization by nurturing a performance-oriented culture in the organization and mutual involvement of the employees in the whole exercise.

  1. What would you consider best practices in Performance Management?

Using well defined KPIs, Balanced Scorecard, effective data analytics, 360 degree evaluation, setting clear performance targets etc.

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

Emphasis should be on areas such as Strategic Planning, Strategic Management, project alignment, data analytics, change management etc.

  1. Which are the limits in order to achieve higher levels of proficiency in Performance Management among practitioners?

The barriers to achieving high levels of proficiency would be mainly two-fold, as follows:

  1. Management : lack of commitment from the leadership team, lack of expertise and experience, focus on the achievement of financial metrics;
  2. Employees: low level of awareness, lack of adequate managerial training, resistance to change, defensive culture.

Other major factors could also relate to financial and budgeting restrictions, poor time management & rapid changes occurring in business environment

  1. If you are to name, in a few words, the main aspects governing Performance Management today, what would they be?

Since Performance Management is yet to evolve as a widely practised management skill, the main aspects could be considered as follows:

  1. Organisational level: strategy planning, strategy formulation & well trained performance managers;
  2. Operational level: formulation of relevant KPIs, implementation of BSC, data analytics
  3. Individual level: performance reviews, monitoring, evaluation and feedback.
  1. What is your opinion on the emerging trend of measuring performance outside working hours?

In my opinion, it may not be a healthy trend, as measuring performance outside normal working hours may lead to disturbances in the work-life balance, which is highly craved these days by modern-day employees. In the absence of any well-defined policy set by the organisation, measuring performances beyond regular hours would lead to stressed and burnt out employees.

  1. Are you using any kind of personal performance measurement tools? If yes, please describe how this has influenced your life.

Yes, I am using BSC as part of performance appraisal methods in our organisation. This whole approach has bought focus and emphasis on continual improvements in my role in various aspects, as well as the need to continuously update my knowledge and skills.

  1. Do you have any tips for successfully managing one’s work-life balance? What are your thoughts?

Good time management skills, along with effective communication, as well as supervisory skills are highly essential in managing one’s work-life balance, besides having the requisite technical knowledge. It is also important that every employee should be made well-aware of his roles and responsibilities and be given enough power to make decisions.

  1. Which are the recent achievements in generating value as result of Performance Management put in practice in your organization?

I would suggest that the biggest step towards achievement has been the continued improvement in employee culture towards performance management. Now, the BSC is being used to drive actions within the organisation, and it is the central focus for achievement of results. Projects have been identified and aligned to with the Balanced Scorecard, enhanced understanding of all metrics, improved and quicker decision making is today possible, mainly due to the implementation of the Balanced Scorecard.

For more interviews with specialists in the field, peruse through our reports Performance Management in 2014 and Performance Management in 2014: GCC Special Edition!

Should you be interested in having your interview featured in one of our publications, contact us at [email protected]!

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