The ‘forgotten’ part of performance management
I recently read an article in The Economist online http://bit.ly/aiSE5K about assessing the performance of fund managers. I found the article quite interesting, as we all know how people in the financial sector have been (and still are) rewarded based on their performance. And, what bank or fund has really performed in recent times?
The article mentions an idea called the ‘inertia benchmark’ – this the performance which would have been achieved if a fund manager did absolutely nothing. This measure could then be compared with the actual performance of the fund to assess if the actions of a fund manager actually yielded better results. This idea made me think do business owners and managers ‘forget’ the meaning of improved performance? As accountants we can create plans, monitor actions and report on performance against plans. And we know too how important it is to use the right performance indicators. In larger companies and many SMEs, reward systems are often linked performance ( banks and funds are a good example), and performance is often measured in terms of profit – again something accountants are good at measuring. So understanding, or more precisely, defining, the meaning of performance can have a big effect on rewards and the information needed to assess it. I wonder how many managers ask themselves what would have happened if the course of action taken was actually to do nothing. Yes, this would be tricky and identifying an inertia benchmark would be considerably more difficult than with a fund. But it might be good to consider such ideas when performance and reward systems are closely linked.