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Present age is the age of performance; those days are by gone when performance concepts were just applied at the work places. Performance mania has engulfed all realms of life. Everyone wants to perform well than others in every sphere of life. Different techniques are being applied in order to improve performance. Particularly organizations are applying various methods to increase the performance of their human resources. Performance is a widened term; therefore, there is not a single method for improving it. A single method or focus on one dimension cannot help to sort out the performance related challenges. Thus, for meeting out the challenges of performance different paradigms of performance are applied.   

What is performance?

Albeit performance is a widened term and it cannot be defined in a single best way but couple of definitions/explanations are provided below to have an idea of the term.

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“Performance is getting the job done, producing the result that you aimed at. Nothing else matters. There are no prizes for coming second”. This definition of performance clearly states that performance means doing the work in an absolute manner without committing mistakes.

From the perspective of task, performance means doing something exactly in accordance with the standards which are set for accomplishing the task. Furthermore, the task is performed at reduced cost and promptly in order to accomplish it with in the time frame defined for it. However, for a performer it means to accomplish a task in such a way which is required from him according to the contract.

Importance and scope of performance:

From 1861 to 1944 around one hundred academic papers were written on the subject of performance but since 1950 thousands of research papers are being written on the subject. Above-stated statistics show the increased importance of the subject. Performance is so important that it is used and applied in all walks of life. It is a widened term; it covers range of activities such as sex, work etc. But its use in the world of business is unprecedented. State owned institutions, semi-governmental organizations and private enterprises all are crazy about performance. Different goals are set in order to ensure high performance. Profits, stock prices and over-all organizational efficiency are different scales to measure the performance of organizations. Organizations seek performance from their executives, employees and systems. But it is not a one way process where high performance is always sought from executives and employees. It is a two way process where organizations also contribute to enhance the performance of human resources. Training, restructuring, re-engineering, performance reviews are some of the measures which are used to boost the performance of human resources. Promotion, salary increase, bonus, recognition are the rewards which are awarded to those who perform well. Dismissal from job, retraining and relocation are the results which one may face if s/he does not perform well.

McKenzie’s Framework:

Before moving further towards the Jon McKenzie’s framework three terms are defined in order to understand the framework.

Efficacy: “The power, ability or capacity to produce a desired effect”.                

Efficiency: “The ratio of effective output to the total input in any system”.                        

“To perform in such a manner that minimum time or effort are wasted”.

Effective: “Producing a strong impression or response”.

Generally these three terms are considered synonyms to each other. In everyday life people overlap these terms with each other. But in reality there is difference in their meanings. Efficacy has mild meaning as compared to other two terms. Efficacy is used in terms of bringing results which are expected. Efficiency is more related with output input and supply demand. Furthermore, it is related to that performance in which little wastage of resources take place, all sorts of resources are included in it such as time, effort and money. Effectiveness/effective is doing right things. The difference between effective and efficient is that the first one is about doing right things and the second one is about doing things in the right manner.

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McKenzie in his book talks about performance and issues related to performance. Particularly he focuses on challenges of performance in 2nd, 3rd and 4th chapters. Moreover, he suggests ways to improve organizational performance, employees’ performance and performance of systems. It is clear from the title of the book “Perform or Else” that performance have taken the form of a mania in today’s organizations. McKenzie clearly points out that organizations expect performance from their executives and employees. World has gone crazy about performance, people in all walks of life have become performance manic. Therefore, in such circumstances performance is not just a term it has other things related to it such as efficacy, efficiency and effectiveness. These three terms define different levels of performance and has different scopes in regard of performance. McKenzie very well understands the performance mania which has spread around and associates these three terms with cultural, organizational and technical performances. His focus in these chapters is on improving performance, thus he highlights the challenges of efficacy, challenges of efficiency and challenges of effectiveness in order to make the base for suggesting ways to improve performance. All of them have different scopes, different solutions to improve performance and have unique characteristics for being applied at different places or situations.

McKenzie associates efficacy with cultural performance. The concept of cultural performance emerged in 1960’s. Concepts relating to theater were used for studying and developing this model of performance. Things which are related to theater and acting were studied thoroughly for understanding their roles in social relations. In the sphere of cultural performance McKenzie focused on those dimensions of performance which are mostly intangible. If a person makes a speech in front of people he will make it in such a way that it affects the audience and positive results may be derived out of it. This is a simple way to elaborate it; in a wider scenario McKenzie attaches cultural performance with efficacy and suggests that challenges of efficacy may be treated with the help of cultural performance.

Efficiency is attached with organizational performance in McKenzie’s book. Organizational performance has its roots in the beginning of last century. Ideas presented by Taylor had many elements of organizational performance. After the mid of last century progress was done in the field of performance studies and it led towards the concept of organizational performance and it was made clear that organizational performance does not mean Taylorism. Organizational performance deals with the matters related to employees performance, reduction of all kinds of waste in an organization and all other matters which are relating to maximization of output in an organization, department, system and of employees. Furthermore, feedback is focused in organizational performance.

Technological performance deals with effectiveness in performance. Technological performance stands for that performance which is measurable and exact as expected. High performance technologies are mention-able in this regard. McKenzie particularly mentions that during the last decade of the last century and in the present age such high-tech technologies are on boom due to their capacity to perform effectively.

Performance is a term that does not has a limited scope; it is applied in all facets of life. From serious stuff to leisure the ideas of performance are applied. It would not be wrong to say that the elements of performance may be seen in everything around. Due to the importance and advantages of performance everyone desires to perform well. But as it is discussed above that there is not one single shape of performance, it has multiple dimensions, forms and faces. Therefore, need is to have a different criteria for improving performance of different forms. John Mackenzie’s framework helps us to improve performance of various forms in organizations. Basically McKenzie has tried to explain that performance cannot be restricted up to few things. It is a large concept and it includes everything. For this reason he has mentioned challenges of performance in a wider scope and has suggested remedies to cope up with these challenges. He incorporates all of these paradigms of performance and has attempted to name them as performance.  

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