Sun | May 16, 2021

Letter of the Day | The basic laws of performance

Published:Wednesday | October 23, 2019 | 12:00 AM


In the book, The Three Laws of Performance, a scenario was presented where someone was seen looking for an item. When an inquiry was made if the item was misplaced in that general area, the person looking did not answer in the affirmative but instead indicated that that was the area where the light was brightest.

Translating this to leadership and the desire to effect change, leaders too often pursue solutions to problems that are not necessarily the ones with the best chance of delivering the desired results (though difficult and sometimes in uncharted territory), but the ones they are most familiar and comfortable with.

It has often been noted (and reinforced) the impact that small and medium-sized businesses have on economic activity and employment opportunities. Over the years, support has been given in one form or another to this sector. The question then must be, “Were the desired results achieved?”

Do we continue to look for the solutions where the light is brightest?

I wonder what the impact on productivity (as measured by output per unit time worked) would be if all the persons employed in small and medium-sized businesses were effectively engaged and enrolled.

No one realistically expects small and medium-sized entities to have the level of resources to do formal employee engagement surveys. While those data-based tools provide deep insights to employee engagement and motivation, the absence of those more formal tools does not and should not translate to an environment where the most basic of effective engagement actions/approaches are not practised. We will continue to miss economic growth targets if productivity levels are not improved.


There is an extensive body of knowledge that shows the correlation between a workforce who is engaged, feels respected, have a say in how work is done, given responsibility and increased productivity.

Will the average worker give of her best when the ‘boss’ tells her ‘anything that comes to his mouth’ (to use a Jamaican parlance)?

How can the average worker give of her best when, despite working for many years, she has never contributed to the NHT and has no practical pathway to homeownership, as her employer see that as a cost and/or not important? How can the average worker give of her best when her employer fails to provide the most basic personal protective equipment to assure personal safety and minimise injury?

As we pursue greater economic growth and the attendant benefits, the answers may not solely lie in structural reforms and access to low cost capital (the brightest light) but in the interpersonal relationships between managers/supervisors and their subordinates to allow all to deliver outcomes at the optimal level.