Effectively managing human resource performance is at the core of why some organizations are successful and other organisations fail. The majority of organisations are far way from operating a sophisticated performance management system that drives the strategy of their organisations. Such kinds of organisations are doomed and their chances of long term survival look bleak.
Performance management is a process for measuring outputs in the shape of delivered performance compared with expectations expressed as objectives. In this respect, it focuses on targets, standards and performance measures or indicators.
First and foremost, performance management systems in most organisations are completely divorced from the organisation strategies. In such a scenario the performance management system saves no other purpose than misdirecting and misguiding the efforts of individual employees and the organisation as a whole. A poorly designed performance management system creates a dissonance. Surely how can your organisation execute its strategy if its performance management system is not aligned to the strategy of the business?
Regrettably in some organisations , a performance management system is portrayed as an HR baby rather than an organisational wide priority. In most cases there is no buy-in from key stakeholders. Besides these challenges, many performance management systems are not aligned with the business. Users of such systems are frustrated. In some organisations the system is used as a heavy stick for bashing the heads of so-called incompetent employees. This usually occurs because some systems are poorly designed to the extent of failing to distinguish among the poor performers, average performers and star performers.
A poorly designed performance management system can be manipulated by so-called free riders. The free riders are poor performers who are rewarded handsomely despite the fact that they are not making any significant contribution to overall organisation performance. Such kinds of people claim to be busy and they promote a busy syndrome culture in the organisation. Such a busy syndrome gives the false impression that performance is synonymous with busyness. So to avoid a situation whereby free riders are rewarded, your performance management system should be designed in such a way that it is tied to your reward strategy.
Performance management becomes misguiding in some organisations because it is done biannually. However, it must be noted that performance management is a process rather than a once-off event. So where it is done annually it saves no purpose other than being performed as an organisational ritual.
Performance management in some organisations is also mistakenly regarded as performance appraisal. Yet a distinction can be drawn between performance management and performance appraisal. Performance management is the process of managing and developing employee performance throughout the organization. Performance appraisal, on the other hand, is primarily a top-down assessment of an individual’s performance. In an organisation where performance appraisal is taken to be performance management it will be reduced to a tick boxing exercise that will yield no results for the organisation.
A poorly designed and implemented performance management system breeds frustration and animosity and hence drives undesirable behaviour. Some organisations implement a poor performance management system with poorly designed key performance measures and targets that are easily attainable rather than being challenging enough to motivate the employees. It is a matter of regret that those who are supposed to be the custodians of the performance management system are afraid to adopt and implement sound performance management systems.
A performance management system that is poorly designed not only breeds frustration but creates a reservoir of animosity and hostility in the organisation. The employees perceive it as nothing other than a noose hovering around their necks and hence they treat it with the greatest contempt it deserves.
Newturn Wikirefu is the Talent Acquisition Manager at Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd a management and human resources consulting firm.