Performance management and your management style


Last Modified  15 August 2016

  • One large room with separate work areas, or separate rooms for each syndicate
  • One flipchart
  • A large people/task diagram on a wall (made up of between four and six sheets of flipchart paper (see Performance management and your management style – tasks handout)
  • The managerial behaviours, written one per card (see Performance management and your management style – tasks handout)
  • Support material:
Time needed
Allow for about 1 hour 50 minutes to run this tool.
  • Step 1 – 20 minutes
  • Step 2 – 15 minutes
  • Step 3 – 15 minutes
  • Step 4 – 20 minutes
  • Step 5 – 30 minutes
  • Step 6 – 10 minutes
Suggested steps
Before the activity, construct a large people/task diagram (based on the diagram in the Performance management and your management style handout, and attach it to a wall. Prepare the managerial behaviours cards. Shuffle the cards and divide them into the number of groups you'll have. 
Step 1
Introduce the tool using the Overview as your guide. Arrange participants into small groups and ask them to tackle Task 1.
Step 2
Summarise the groups' conclusions in a diagram on the flipchart, pointing out that the style in which they interact with staff on performance can be categorised in four ways:
  1. maximum attention to the task, minimum attention to the person
  2. maximum attention to the person, minimum attention to the task
  3. minimum attention to both the task and the person
  4. maximum attention to both the task and the person.
Explain that most people's natural assumption is that the last category is the behaviour to strive for but that before they make any judgements, you want them to tackle Task 2.
Step 3
Ask the participants to tackle Task 2.
Step 4
Review Task 2 using the following notes as your guide.

Wendy is not only new to the role and the company, but also to the world of work. It is safer for you, and more reassuring for her, if you pay maximum attention to the task.

Jean already understands the routine parts of the job. She needs coaching on the less routine parts. Maximum attention to both the task and to her is the right approach.

Bill's technical competence is very high. Development in the increasingly important 'soft' skills indicates a need to pay more attention to the person than to the task.

It is easy to assume that Sally, because of her competence and experience, should be allowed to get on with the job – minimum attention on both counts. But Sally's case is not clear-cut because of the additional task you are delegating to her. And that makes hers the most real-life example because you will have to manage her on the original task with minimal intervention while on the new task, because of its risky nature, you will have to manage her in a 'high task/low person' manner.

This is the key message: vary the way you manage people, not just person to person but also task to task. That means that on Task A you may manage someone one way, and an hour later on Task B you may manage them a different way. So be clear as to how best to combine attention to the person and attention to the task, taking account of task complexity , staff competence on that task and the risk involved .

Lead a discussion addressing the extent to which participants currently vary their management style according to the criteria described above. You will probably find that many of them do some of it instinctively.

Ask them to think of the benefits of doing it both more frequently and more deliberately. Emphasise that this approach to managing people:
  • makes performance management more structured
  • makes it easier to combine performance management with on-the-job development
  • has a positive impact on their managerial credibility.
Step 5
After reviewing Task 2, ask participants to tackle Task 3.
Step 6
Review a selection of participants' actions, relating them to the points made in Task 2.