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The challenge of performance, leadership and change

Lambert, Tina (2009). The challenge of performance, leadership and change. Doctor of Business Administration Thesis, Charles Darwin University.

Document type: Thesis
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Author Lambert, Tina
Title The challenge of performance, leadership and change
Institution Charles Darwin University
Publication Date 2009-07
Thesis Type Doctor of Business Administration
Supervisor Redman, Murray Keith
1503 - Business and Management
Abstract This dissertation explores an intervention with a public sector group. It considers the issue of performance management and development, the strengths and weaknesses of current arrangements and how it could be improved. The project allows for a rare opportunity to look at a system which essentially has remained embedded for a considerable amount of time. An action research approach was used based on constructivist research philosophy. Principles and practices of action research and grounded theory aided in the design of the project by using a participatory approach, allowing issues to emerge and using reflection techniques with mentors and critical friends. Mind mapping was a significant tool in managing and ensuring outcomes were grounded in the data.

The project identified the difficulties confronted by organisations and their people. From an organisational perspective, change is a constant, and looking for ways to help people improve performance and leadership capabilities is a given. On the other hand people seemed change fatigued, had limited time and experience high workloads and pressures. In an environment which is high on control and constantly undergoing restructures and reviews, is it realistic to expect people will display high levels of performance, innovation, leadership, flexibility and learning? What did seem to be apparent was a disconnect between people and the organisation in attempting to recreate a sense of belonging and ownership in the ever changing work environment. Systems like performance management in the main remain unquestioned even though the value added for individuals, groups and the organisation is dubious! Everyone goes through the motions of filling in forms and ticking boxes.

Attempts were made to help the group to reflect and learn using action learning and group behaviour approaches. In depth reflection and learning seemed difficult for the group. The reflective process using mentors and critical friends for the researcher had demonstrable value in helping to gain insights for the self. The intervention generated local theory in the areas of: the mixed message factor; the ‘me’ factor; the non-performance factor; the inhibited communication factor; the blame and complain factor, the ‘stuckedness’ factor, the leadership “suppressor” factor; and the ostrich disconnect factor. Aiding a group to understand its worldview and repetitive behaviour patterns may help with change. Being stuck and resistant to change limits learning and reproduces what has always been done. All that is achieved is disconnection from the whole and dysfunctional behaviours.
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