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Practitioner Interview: Gunnulf Rasmussen


gunnulfIn 2018, the Performance Magazine editorial team interviewed Gunnulf Rasmussen, Group Vice President at Corporater, Norway. His thoughts and views on Performance Management are presented in detail below.

Performance Management is the fine art of really understand the business drivers, to put strategy into firm plans and activities, and by this methodically approach help individuals sign up for their specific contribution to overall targets.

Short bio

  1. Please provide us with a brief description of your professional path.

I started out with a Master Degree in Computer Systems and Cybernetics. After 2 years in consultancy with a very steep learning curve, I joined 4 colleagues to establish a privately-owned company I managed for 10 years. The professional journey took me to large enterprises in the field of IT and system development.

I have been lucky to manage a variety of businesses, from IT and ERP, into Collaboration, Integrated Operations in the Oil Business and Telemedicine. Before joining Corporater for just a months ago, I managed an Innovative Well Service Business for Enhanced Oil Recovery.

  1. Which were some of the most important moments in your professional development?

At 19 years old, I found myself being a platoon leader during compulsory military service in Norway. The fact that I should manage people more experienced, more mature and more knowledgeable in all areas but military skills than myself, inspired me to dive into the field of leadership.

I tried to find the answer to the ever-recurring question: Why should they follow me?

  1. Do you have any role models, personally and professionally? How do you feel they have influenced you?

I can’t really name a specific individual person that I would say has left their mark on me.

  1. Were there any books, movies or other influences that were significant to your professional path? In which way?

The book The Trusted Advisor, by David Maister, managed to put in words what I tried to achieve in my consultancy career. A humble approach, putting the clients first. Beside strong customer intimacy, I would never hesitate to walk in the shoes of the Consultants themselves.

What did they need from me?  In return, what experiences did they make? What ideas and concepts should be exploited further? How could we continue to build a high-performance culture, and earn the role of the trusted advisor?

Do not chase the money, do the right things, and money will follow. – David Maister
  1. How did you begin your career in the Performance Management field?

Performance Management has always been a part of my life, but if we emphasize the Performance Management Systems part, I joined Corporater for just a month ago, in May 2018. In my new position I will be responsible for Scandinavia and I will also be in charge for the headquarter functions.


Encouraging assertiveness and participation

  1. What does Performance Management mean to you?

Performance Management is the fine art of really understand the business drivers, to put strategy into firm plans and activities, and by this methodically approach help individuals sign up for their specific contribution to overall targets.

  1. What benefits do you see in using Performance Management?

From my management career, I have seen the strong drive from individuals to take part in a larger system, to understand how they can contribute to the big picture. I have seen the strong energy coming from truly engaged colleagues, that find their effort aligned with the purpose of the Company and need from the Customers.

I do not believe in just measuring the final results coming from Board of Directors. Empowered employees should be invited to scrutinize the mesh of activities and structures that finally help us getting where we want to be. This is the true buy-in for the organization and part of modern leadership thoughts in my world.

  1. Why would you recommend using a Performance Management system within an organization?

To achieve visibility to target objectives and activities, and to make organizations and teams aware of their contribution to the big picture. A well-tuned Performance Management system will help the business to execute their strategies.

  1. Which are the most challenging aspects in Performance Management?

Inevitable, the process of mapping all business processes to value creation, and the insight revealed, will call for change. This is not a question of lean management or not, but just a fact in this rapid changing business world.

People resist change. Engaged and professional knowledge workers do not embrace micromanagement either. So, it is not Performance Management itself that may cause trouble, but the way it is implemented.

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

Get buy-in from the organization. Make sure that senior management creates an organization willing to change. Celebrate improvement, innovation and high performing teams.

Allow experiments to take place. Simplify whenever you can. Let employees pay attention to objectives where they have influence.  A poor setup may alienate employees and drain energy from the organization.

  1. What is your approach to Individual Performance Management (talent management, succession management, individual assessments, compensation and benefits, etc.)?

I think this is an area where outsiders typically will try to fence in Performance Management. From my leadership experience over many years, I can’t justify that a strong emphasis on individual assessment and metrics for salary discussion has helped to create outstanding organizations. I would focus on teams, not individuals.

  1. How can a company’s management get the employees’ buy-in for the Performance Management system?

Try to involve employees and let them work on the fields relevant to them, like a bottom-up approach. The senior management will typically take care of the top-down approach, so make sure that initiatives get aligned.


Analysis, metrics and examination

  1. Which are the greatest achievements in generating value, as a result of Performance Management put in practice, which you have noticed so far in your career?

The process of really decomposing the value drivers, of actually understanding what the business is made of – that is the primary source of value.

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

More than advanced analytics on rigid data from rigid processes, I do believe that Performance Management could join the ride for digital transformation.

By carefully examine all the processes, and the data assets that forms knowledge, you are really into a situation where you can benchmark and define areas of improvement.

Providing metrics on true improvement has really helped teams to stay engaged and help business innovation take place.

Measuring is not the whip, it is the carrot!

  1. What do you think of the emerging trend of measuring your performance outside working hours?

Said with a smile, I do not measure my qualities of being a husband or a father. However, I do keep in mind a holistic approach to life, and set time aside for my wife and my kids.

We do fill that space with activities that we both have a passion for, like outdoor hiking, cabin life and my daughters’ spare time interest of horse riding and soccer.

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

I do fancy digital gadgets, and I like to put them into action. When it comes to a healthy lifestyle and exercise, I measure sports activities using my smart phone and sports watch.

Yes, I do think that defining realistic yet ambitious goals will help you get there in the end.  Minutes spent, the mileage achieved, and the intensity measured all indicates if you are doing the right things. Most of all, I love to exercise, so measuring is not the whip, it is the carrot!

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

People like me may tend to get too involved in their professional life, simply because we love to work.  Hence, it quite important to define days and time of the week where you are not working. I put my family leisure activities in my professional calendar, and I am really making an effort to take part.

  1. Can you think of a career advice you would offer to Performance Management professionals?

Performance Management is not about technology and software. It is indeed influenced by psychology, processes and leadership. As a Performance Management Professional, you will guide organizations through change.

Keep that in mind, and don’t let the tools you need be an obstacle, but an asset.  Let the tools adapt to the challenges, and don’t expect people to adapt to the tools.

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