Isn’t every business about doing as well as it possibly can? So why then do so many businesses see “Performance Management” as something for HR. All too often the term “Performance Management” is bandied about without any real meaning. Performance Management itself is subject to a number of misconceptions and misunderstandings, and is not something can be easily explained away with a simple word or phrase.
Somewhere along the line the meaning appears to have got lost. Astoundingly Performance Management is often seen as something that is not integral to business, not important in the larger scheme of things, or something that must only be completed for paperwork’s sake. Many businesses carry out performance reviews once at the start or the end of the year, and proceed by telling employees how they feel that they have performed and how they can improve. It’s a start but is this really conducive to good performance management?
To be truly effective performance management needs to be viewed as a system like any other business system. Performance management systems do not just consist of one performance review a year, but they should create a continuous cycle of evaluation and feedback throughout the year.
What is a Performance Management system?
Ultimately, performance management isn’t something with clear cut parameters or end points that need to be achieved, but rather something that is more like a fluid process that can be adapted to each individual business and integrate with other aspects of the business, as well as helping to progress organisational goals and individual performance.
An effective performance management system can usually be achieved when it is viewed as a strategy that links every aspect of an organisation through its culture, communications, human resources policies, and style, while always considering broad issues as well as more focussed ones alongside day-to-day tasks and working relationships.
There are a number of components of a performance management system that can be used and adapted to different business styles and organisations. For example, performance appraisals are one of the most recognised tools of performance management and involve a meeting between and employee and a manager. However, these are not just a simple question and answer session, but should be more of a free flowing conversation that allows two-way feedback and addresses the performance of the individual as well as the way the individual feels they are valued, the understanding of their duties, and the way they are managed.
Learning & Development Opportunities
Other ways of implementing an effective performance management system including encouraging an environment with 360 degree feedback where feedback is consistently generated from all levels of the organisation, not just one manager’s opinion of an employee. Also important to effective performance management systems are learning and development opportunities, as employees can only ever progress and add value to the business when they are given the opportunity to invest in their own personal development. You might also think about quantitative targets and performance related pay as more physical aspects of a performance management system, but there are a number of downsides to consider.
Ultimately, an efficient and effective performance management system is one that works best with your business and allows you to achieve your goals while seamlessly integrating with other aspects of the business to highlight areas for improvement and areas of great benefit.
My mission is to dispel the myth that Performance management is something that businesses need to do to keep HR happy. HR are there to help the business make it happen but the business must own the process. Performance management is all about helping the business to achieve what it sets out to do and to maximise its assets and resources. It requires focus, clarity and honesty and a genuine desire to improve. Everyone benefits and the process must be driven by the strategic goals of the business.
The key to Performance Management success is for the key business decision makers to determine if they are interested in managing their business performance as conducted by their staff rather than simply recording it in monitory /output terms. There are many and varied ways to go about performance management. To a degree that is an irrelevance as none will be truly successful without top level understanding and commitment. Once that mindset is determined HR’s role is to propose/develop Performance Management systems that are relevant and appropriate to the business, train managers and staff, and help make it happen.
Make no mistake Performance Management isn’t a quick fix or easy it requires focus, clarity and honest face to face communication including addressing sensitive issues. Whilst the business case is undeniable, well meaning, Performance Management Systems often fall down because managers feel they feel ill equipped and/or give the excuse that they have no time to spend on the process/paper work. I can hear the outcry from here. Yes there is a lot of paperwork and the meetings do take time.
Of course HR must take responsibility to ensure that the systems in place meet the needs of the business. However, in my experience where a business tolerates managers failure to conduct performance review meetings due to lack of time that business has failed the managers. Any business that understands the need for Perfomance Management will have planed its implementation in the same way that operational activities are planned. If conducting performance reviews is a job responsibility, given equal status to operational responsibilities and managers are held accountable, in the same way as they are their operational responsibilities, the systems will work.
As with any other work responsibility the parties must be supported by a workable system and must be trained/supported to build up their skills and experience and most importantly the value of what they are doing must be evident. Feedback is essential to understand that the investment is worthwhile and to maintain commitment to the process.
hchr is an independent HR consultancy based in South Wales providing outsourced HR services to local businesses including the management of employee performance. For more information about hchr’s services, call on the number below: