Participation or imposition…

ADLT 620 – HRD Overview – Session 7

It was interesting to look at the ideas of performance management (PM) as put forward by Gilley et al. (1) in parallel with Weisbord’s views on whole systems work and the ideas of Future Search. At first they seemed like they were divergent perspectives. I don’t think that Weisboard is against PM. I just think it is how it is implemented that he may be concerned with. Gilley seems to indicate a top down approach with managers having key roles. Whereas, I think Weisboard’s approach would indicate a participatory process in establishing all aspects of a PM system.

I recall in Weisbord (2) where he told the story of the quality circles first developed in Japan and how when there was a focus on quality there was significantly higher productivity than any prior output quotas set by management. To me, the issue seems to be is if the culture is ready for a participatory solution in implementing the PM system. I would imagine there would be more commitment and if one of the goals is really to develop employees, then if the employees were are part of developing the system, the would be more committed.

Personally, Weisbord’s approach is one I would prefer. However, I also realize that it is probably rare to find a culture that would be ready for such an approach. I think part of the question is being able to look at where the balance of the Theory X/Theory scale is in myself. I think that we also don’t have so many cultural examples of Theory Y as models to look towards. We probably automatically revert to a default model 1 behavior, or unilateral control. To do something like a large group/whole system in the room process for looking at performance would trust the diagnosis to the group of stakeholders rather than the ‘expert’. I am intrigued by such an approach. I have done some work with groups as a facilitator where I have set up a process for and allowed the group to arrive at outcomes, both in planning initiatives as well as learning events. In both times of events I have been awed by the outcomes. They have almost always been much more than I could have dreamt, much less pulled out of one of my pockets…


Gilley’s HPT system seems to put the onus on the expert to diagnose and implement the HPT system. To me the HPT model we look at in class is a tool that a consultant, internal or external, could use as a part of diagnosing a system. I see this as a tool for an HRD practitioner that could be used in different ways.


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