Understanding Performance Management

Posted: November 24, 2010 in leadership
It is the month of November and I guess most organizations are putting finishing touches to their annual reports while preparing new plans for next year.  On the Human Resources Management front, line managers are likely to be engaging their teams and evaluating their work performance over the last half of 2010.


Performance appraisals have always been used interchangeably with Performance management.  In the dying embers of this year, we at Corporate Aims Services wish that performance management and performance appraisals should be understood as separate activities or terminologies and should be treated differently and implemented as such.

Employee Performance management has become the one most important activity in the workplace for achieving success in all business management processes.   Because employees are the most valuable resource of an organization, they can make or break a business.  Their performance therefore is parallel to the overall performance of an organization.  The effective management of employees’ performance however does not and should not depend only on the job performance of that employee but the overall performance of the employee in the workplace.  Hence, performance management goes far beyond the evaluation of the job performance of employees.  Employee behaviour and employee conduct are other performance indicators that can be managed and improved to make employees more productive in the workplace.

So throughout this month, we shall explore various performance management issues with the intention of providing solutions to effective performance management.  In today’s article however, we intend to discuss what constitutes employee performance management in general and its relevance to an organization.

Measuring Employee Productivity
If the sustenance of a business depends greatly on the people who work in it, then it is important to continuously seek to have the people perform at higher levels.  One simple way this can be done is the continuous measurement of the level of their performance with respect to minimum allowable targets of productivity.  All life forces depend on one primary principle which is the principle of growth.  Everything is made to grow.  Growth can be likened to process improvement and the principle of growth basically explains productivity.  Anything you put an effort into must yield some dividends.  When it does yield dividends, we say you have been productive.  When the opposite occurs, we say you have been unproductive.
But in measuring employee productivity, the entire scope of employee performance comes to play.  Areas of job performance, behavioral performance and employee conduct must be assed periodically to ensure continuous improvement.  In limiting performance management to only job performance through performance appraisals, organizations lose sight of the more important ingredients of employee performance which is behaviour, attitude and conduct.  Employee behaviour, attitude and conduct constitute the deeper areas of performance management.

Every organization has the opportunity to mold employee attitudes the way they want.  It can be done through employee orientation programmes.  A minimum of a week of intensive employee orientation upon the commencement of employment or work in a new organization can make a great difference.  Currently, orientation programmes have been reduced to introducing new employees to staff and shown around areas of the organization.  If orientation continues to be seen as a guided tour in and around the organization, the opportunity to shape the mindset or attitude of our new employees will be lost.  And when we miss the opportunity during their entry into the organization, we may never regain that opportunity.  What this means is that employee performance management begins or should begin as soon as new employees enter the organization.
I can’t surely talk about attitude without touching on ethics.  Ethics have a lot to do with professionalism.  Every profession has its ethical standards.  Workplace ethics may be defined as a set of formal and informal standards of conduct that guide behaviour at work.  Appropriate workplace ethics always ensures a disciplined and safe environment for effective work.  In workplaces that require a high level of accuracy and personal judgment, the enforcement of strict ethics guidelines would be a major tool to ensuring employee productivity.  Indeed, ethics is basically about doing the right thing at the right time.
While molding employees into what an organization expects of them, you may be wondering how to deal with the already corrupted employees.  It is simple but quite expensive.  Take employees through corrective institutional training to imbibe in them the accepted standards.  Don’t stop there.  Evaluate their performance and behaviour periodically in a specialized programme, using fair and effective appraisal systems.  In many cases, employees are appraised only on their specific performance in their jobs.  The evolved best practice in performance management currently is to also appraise employees on expected or standard behavioral traits that evolve from organizational values and norms.  Employees must live and reflect organizational values and hence be evaluated on such values.  Then employees can also be appraised on their own specific, stated and agreed personal goals and objectives over the appraisal period.
Performance Management Processes
The performance management process begins with educating all stakeholders such as employees, supervisors and line managers etc on the specific performance evaluation processes.  Education is on the various aspects of the process, forms to be completed and time frame of the programme as well as key performance indicators.  Another process is the private performance appraisal conference which is held before the appraisal period between an employee and his/her direct supervisor.  Appraisal conferences ensure that the employee and the supervisor or manager agree on the specific terms of the performance appraisal process.  They agree for example on the appraisal period, key performance indicators to be evaluated, expected behaviour and employee’s personal growth objectives or goals.  The performance appraisal conference also ensures that employees understand their specific roles and behaviour as expected of them and the consequences of performing below expected targets.

After the appraisal conference, the next is the actual performance evaluation process.  Actual performance is measured against expected performance and employees graded.  Depending on the outcome of the evaluation, an employee may be assisted to perform better, rewarded for performing well or sacked (terminated) for continued non performance.  Assisting employees to perform better may take several forms.  These include training, retraining, implementing employee assistance programmes or the discipline of employees through prior agreed disciplinary procedures.  Next week, we shall discuss Performance Planning, Contracting and the determination of key performance indicators for employees in an organization.

Source: BFT


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