Expert Interview: Musa Bulus, Senior Strategy Analyst at the Central Bank of Nigeria
The KPI Institute’s Performance Management in 2014 report is built on the belief that a balanced approach in such research endeavors can only be achieved by triangulating the opinions of practitioners, academics and consultants alike. In 2014, Musa Bulus, Senior Strategy Analyst at the Central Bank of Nigeria, was one of the practitioners who offered us rich insights into performance related research and trends.
“Performance Management is the art of reviewing how well an organization has performed.”
- What does the term Performance Management mean to you?
Performance Management is the art of reviewing how well an organization has performed. It is a field of management that considers the performance of an organization, as well as the individuals, given an agreed target. To the public sector it considers the performance in the following areas:
- Political performance (how well a political party does);
- Organizational/Municipal Performance;
- Managerial performance;
- Unit/department/group performance;
- Programs, policies, initiatives performance;
- Individual performance.
A performance management is said to be effective if there is an effective feedback mechanism.
- What drives interest in Performance Management?
In the private sector, the desire to know where the organization is vis-à-vis its competitors drives the interest in performance management. For the individuals, reward could facilitate the need for performance management. In the public sector, it helps the government to know how well it is doing in its programs, projects as well as its efforts to care for its citizens.
- What are your thoughts on the relationship between Performance Management at organizational, departmental and individual level?
High performance individuals will lead to a high performance department, which will ultimately lead to a high performance organization. However, the overall performance of individuals in the organization can fully impact the organizational performance only when the strategic objectives of the organization are rightly cascaded to the department and then to the individuals. Organizations can only benefit from the high capability of their employees if their potential is properly aligned towards achieving the organization’s mandate.
- What are the 2014 key trends in Performance Management from your point of view?
Performance Management is beginning to gather the attention it requires and many organizations are now thinking about measuring their performance holistically. In my view, the key trends in performance management in 2014 revolve around the following:
- The behavioral implications of performance measurement;
- The use of performance measurement in the public sector and the effect on performance;
- The role of performance measurement in the management of transformational change;
- Fit between organizational context, strategy and performance measurement.
- What aspects of Performance Management should be explored more through research?
The aspect of Performance Management that should be explored in research is how organizations could use Strategic Performance Measurement System to re-adapt their strategy and close the execution gap during strategy implementation. Another area that needs research is developing a performance measurement system that dynamically relates to the volatile environment through its feedback and feed forward mechanism.
- Which companies would you recommend to be looked at, due to their particular approach to Performance Management and subsequent results?
I have not been privileged to view the Performance management system in any other organizations apart from the organization I am working in. In my view, a model performance management system is the system that is able to come out with the right performance metrics, that system which measures the organizational objectives and builds intelligence from the metrics that are used for decision making, and which gives the organization a competitive advantage.
- Which are the main challenges in today’s Performance Management practice?
The challenges depend on the sector that the Performance Manager is reporting on. When it comes to the public sector Performance Manager, the challenge he/she may be confronted with is determining the informational expectations of the various stakeholders in order to build a performance measurement system that meets these needs. In most organizations, performance is considered from the financial perspective only and does not consider the other aspects that lead to sustainable performance.
In most public sector organizations, performance management is considered as a nuisance, especially when the organization does not see the reason why it should report on performance.
- What do you think should be improved in the use of Performance Management tools and processes?
Most Performance Management tools are concerned with what to measure and how to structure the PMS, i.e. they try to answer the question ‘‘How to design the PMS?.” Some are only concerned about the metrics that are generated, they do not take into consideration the intelligence factor, needed in building the tool. In most instances, the tools do not have a feedback and feed forward mechanism.
I expect significant improvement in the performance management tools in the following areas:
- Intelligence generation mechanism should be built into the system in order to assist management in its decision making;
- A scenario generating mechanism should also be built in the performance management system that could help management in planning for uncertainties;
- A feedback and feed forward mechanism should be built into the system.
- What would you consider best practices in Performance Management?
What I consider best practice in Performance Management is a Performance Management System that comes out with timely, relevant metrics and also adds intelligence to them, which helps management in making decisions.
- Which aspects of Performance Management should be emphasized during educational programs?
The aspects of performance management I think that should be emphasized during educational programs are:
- How to determine the KPIs;
- How to build up a dynamic performance measurement system;
- How to evaluate the performance gap during strategy implementation;
- Business Intelligence from the Performance measures.
- Which are the limits in order to achieve higher levels of proficiency in Performance Management among practitioners?
The major limit in achieving higher levels of proficiency in Performance Management is the inability to cascade organizational strategic objectives down to the various divisions/units and then to the individuals. This failure to properly cascade the strategic objective affects the organization’s ability to execute its strategy.
- If you are to name, in a few words, the main aspects governing Performance Management today, what would they be?
Good performance management governance should make room for the following:
- Stakeholders engagement – they should agree on the metrics for performance measurement;
- Stakeholders information mapping for public sector organization (this indicates the metrics that are needed to supply the stakeholders with the expected information);
- Strategic communication and awareness;
- A feedback mechanism to re-adapt the strategy;
- Dynamic strategic performance measurement;
- Strategy renewal and re-adaptation.
- What is your opinion on the emerging trend of measuring performance outside working hours?
Measuring performance outside working hours may not be as easy as thought, it is like telling a staff that no matter where he or she is, he is being monitored. This kind of performance measurement will put staff under pressure to deliver and also affect his social life, which could affect his ability to deliver in the long run.
- Are you using any kind of personal performance measurement tools? If yes, please describe how this has influenced your life.
- Do you have any tips for successfully managing one’s work-life balance? What are your thoughts?
Managing one’s work-life balance is actually not an easy task. One is bound most often to abuse his social life because of the pressure in the office and the need to meet up with a specific target in the metrics. My tips for successfully balancing my work-life are:
- Never postpone an assignment, execute it as it comes;
- Monitor your personal performance weekly and adjust before it is too late.
- Which are the recent achievements in generating value as result of Performance Management put in practice in your organization?
We have been able to develop a performance measurement system that monitors the organization’s performance. We have been able to distinguish between the organization’s operational performance from its strategic performance.
The operational performance was developed from the act that sets up the organization, whereas the strategic performance comes up from the strategic direction of the organization over a medium term period. The strategic objectives are actually cascaded to various Departments and each department is expected to execute its mandate in order to ensure that the organization achieves its various strategic objectives.
This has helped us to know whether we are on course to achieving our strategic objectives.
For more interviews with specialists in the field, peruse through our report Performance Management in 2014! Should you be interested in having your interview featured in one of our publications, contact us at [email protected]!