Talent Management: Applying the Performance Cube to Sick Leave


“Why workers call in sick” a  27 March, 2011, Vancouver Province article by Derek Abma. Highlighted for me the need for a broad appreciation for what it takes to perform well.

The article, which reviewed a recent study by BMC Public health, highlighted several useful points:

  • “… workers in various industries were more likely to take sick leave in the days following unpleasant experiences with colleagues or bosses, and also … avoid a workday anticipated to particularly stressful.”
  • when the problem is with the boss – 3.63 times more likely to make a sick call
  • when anticipating a very stressful  work situation – 2.27 times more likely to call in sick
  • problems with colleagues – 4.68 times more likely to call in sick

This information provides an interesting adjunct to the fairly well known “performance cube” (competence – know how, focus – what what and why, and, want to – motivation and emotional focus).

I find the performance cube useful in developing a series of questions to examine role performance issues and opportunities in doing TM work. This study drives home that misalignment in any one of the performance cube dimensions has demonstrable effects on role performance.

This is why organizations are attentive to performance management – they sense the linkages and attendant leverage on business performance. However, the typical performance management schemes (annual/quarterly goal setting and reviews) misses dealing with kind of issues reported on in this article. Yet I would suggest that this is the performance management action. Not deal with these kinds of matters and you run the high risk of having a relatively handicapped performance management system.

This sort of performance issue falls upon the organization’s leadership – this is what they get paid (in part) to take care of. This takes skill, patience, time, and perseverance; all of which are in short supply in all too many situations due to being busy, not having the skills and even ambivalence within leadership hierarchy.

There is a “mantra” in OD and much business and HR literature about the benefits of “engagement”. The performance cube is one approach to outlining the ingredients to this desirable outcome. What the article drove home for me as an intensified insight includes the following:

  • organizations are social entities – so relationships with others is what matters
  • if people are struggling with their relationships with others, their, their colleagues and the organization’s performance is adversely affected
  • individual performance is accomplished within a social setting – high personal performance is the result of a performance supportive social context.

The “DUH” for me is these insights are the very attributes and benenfits of “division of labour” system that Adam Smith so eloquently explained several hundred years  ago. He got it! He truly understood what it took to provide a high performance system.

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About 123stilllearning456

As a management consultant I am passionately interested in talent management and risk/uncertainty issues. In the area of talent management I propose that we seek strategies that look beyond the staffing/employee centric frames of reference. I have been frustrated at the "closing down on possibilities" by these more conventional staffing/employee centric approaches. I have been impressed where people have found systematic solutions to their talent management issues by going beyond the conventional approaches. In the area of risk and uncertainty, I am interested in making this topic relevant to more normal decision making situations. My conceptual foundation is to use the micro-economist's fixed/variable cost theme. I also think it is important to look at these issues for people through their emotional and psychological lens. As a premise I think risk and uncertainty only exist where there is a person who cares about possible events and its consequences. Hence, risk and uncertainty are social based concepts (no sentience, no risk and uncertainty). A major influence on my thinking in this area is Nassim Taleb of "Black Swan" fame. This BLOG provides me with an opportunity to express my thoughts on topics that interest me. As this is an online diary, content is more important to me than polish. I apologize if this distracts from readers' enjoyment and learning. Still I find this a useful way to live up to my namesake, learn more from others and hopefully provoke creative thoughts and ideas in others.
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