Surveys streamline performance management

By Sue Loukomitis*

With increasing demands on Local Government to deliver more with less, it is not surprising that a far greater emphasis is being placed on performance management. Simply put, performance management is designed to ensure that the goals of an organisation are consistently being met in an effective and efficient manner.

Performance management can focus on performance of the whole organisation, a particular department, or processes to build a product or service. Linking employee or unit performance to the strategic goals of an organisation should be the bread and butter of any managerís work.

Tight links to high level goals

The trend in Local Governments across the nation is to move towards tighter performance management with stronger links to corporate plans. In Victoria, the State Government has undertaken community satisfaction surveys for all Local Governments to help give a basket of indicators to measure the organisationís progress and give it some base benchmarking data.

Many Local Governments have taken this approach a step further and conducted their own specialised surveys on the services they deliver to their community.

The CEO Ė along with the elected Council and local community Ė can clearly see how a certain part of the organisation is working to meet its high level strategic goals. Indeed, it is impossible to see how any organisation can accurately gauge community views effectively without a survey.

Options for internal reviews

How do internal units measure their success?

Areas such as finance, information technology, and administration, that is areas that service people within the organisation really need to know how they are perceived by the rest of the organisation. Silence does not always mean that people are happy. Sometimes it is quite the reverse.

Surveys of a unitís internal clients can be key part of performance management. These can take the form of internal satisfaction surveys, internal climate surveys, or 360 degree evaluations. In a 360 degree evaluation, people are reviewed from below, from their peers and from their managers.

These types of research can be confronting for some people, but they can also really assist in removing obstacles to improved operations. They can help foster honest discussion and focused reviews. Backed by solid research, good performance management plans can then be created. This can assist managers in improving performance at the individual and team level.

Rather than be wary of the use of performance management surveys, Local Government managers should be prepared to embrace it.

*Sue Loukomitis is a Director of Auspollís Centre for Local Government Research. She can be contacted on (03) 9776 9900 or toll free on 1800 640 817.