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Enact Culture Through Performance Management

by | Apr 8, 2024

An Interview with Deborah Frost, Keynote Speaker, Turbocharging Performance


Deborah Frost

“I don’t much like talking about mistakes, but the biggest mistake I see Boards make is that they don’t join the dots.  They just aren’t clear that Performance Management is fundamental to building the culture you need to succeed”.

Deborah Frost, until recently CEO at Personal Group Holdings has seen it from both ends of the telescope, starting her own management consultancy business in 2003, working closely with SHROs and CPOs to re-design and re-energise performance management systems.  Over 15 years Deborah’s career led her to leading an AIM-Listed company as CEO and Board member.  This means uniquely Deborah has seen both the bottom-up and top-down approach to performance.


As a Board she says, your responsibility is to build and run a successful company.  Every time you meet as a Board that is your concern: what are we doing to deliver on our promise to shareholders and stakeholders?  Importantly, as a member of the Board you realise how much you surround yourself by hiring brilliant people to deliver, no CEO or Board can do it by themselves – it really is a matter of getting everyone aligned on a direction and committed to taking the right action.  And that’s the sweet spot, the link between culture and performance.

A high-performance culture achieves those outcomes: Direction, Alignment, Commitment.  Deborah goes on “I’ve worked with some CEOs who absolutely get it.  They’ve spent time ensuring that people throughout the organisation understand exactly what success is and where they fit in”.  But it can’t be a one-size-fits-all solution, performance is an alchemy of history, geography, economy, competitors, talent and leadership.  No one single approach will be applicable everywhere.

The Board’s perspective on performance management extends beyond financial metrics. It encompasses strategic alignment, risk management, talent development, and effective communication. By actively engaging in performance oversight, Boards contribute to the long-term success of the organisation.

There’s a risk in saying all this that Boards spend too much time looking with hindsight and oversight, and not sufficient time on foresight.  It’s easy to have a short-term mind-set, given that McKinsey’s report that the length of CEO tenures remains relatively low—just five to six years.  The pressure to deliver now can put too much focus on meeting immediate performance expectations.  But Deborah insists this is robbing Peter to pay for Paul.  If you’re not looking forward and thinking about meeting the performance challenges of the future the unspoken assumption is that the organisation is remaining static.  The reality is that nothing about the future can be taken for granted, delivery of performance targets today were set in motion last year or the year before that.

That balance: top to bottom; today vs tomorrow  – those axes are not stable.  But without doubt, performance management is the way that we turn culture into brilliant execution and delivery and we can’t take our eyes off that prize.

If you’re interested in hearing Deborah speak more on this subject, she is a keynote speaker at our upcoming Turbocharging Performance event.

Deborah is the closing Keynote Speakers on Friday 19 April:How the Board Sees Talent & Performance at Turbocharging Performance conference. 

Be inspired by our Flexibility & Choice theme for this year’s prestigious Relocate Think Global People Awards.