Blog post

What is Performance Management?

UPDATE 2019!! We have created a new performance management feature Real Time Reviews, book a call and we can show you!

Check it out here: Real Time Reviews

The mention of Performance Management stirs up different emotions among employees and managers and mostly these feelings are negative.

In 2015 Microsoft and Dell abandoned performance reviews – according to Fortune “Microsoft and Dell are ditching employee performance reviews” by Geoff Colvin @geoffcolvin OCTOBER 29, 2015, 12:16 PM EDT.

Sensational headlines like this spark conversation around the people management world. The number of times I have heard  recently from HR Consultants, “”””Our clients are considering moving away from performance management” is now in its hundreds.

If this is the case what are they moving towards ? I agree with the Geoff Colvin article, who asked Dave Calhoun about it, a former GE executive, he was CEO of Nielsen and a fan of the system, (GE’s Session C’s I presume?) which he used at Nielsen. His response was simple: The whole point of performance management “is to force a conversation,” he said. “Many managers absolutely hate to tell employees, rigorously and honestly, where they stand”. I totally agree with David Calhoun performance management tools no matter what they may be, should be designed to force a conversation between the Manager and employee.

So does that mean the emphasis of performance management should be placed on training the managers on how to communicate with each other using the tools that they are prescribed as to force a performance conversation? I think the answer to this question has to be yes.

Personal performance  is only one of the factors of company success there are other factors;

  1. The economic market place
  2. The companies product or service
  3. Culture of the organisation
  4. The objectives that are set by the organisation

So,  let us presume the product/service is good and the economic environment is also good.  Once these have been established we can then start looking at 3 & 4

When you begin to look at the culture, companies objectives and employee and managers performance you now need to include a few more areas;

  1. Culture
  2. Behaviours expected from all
  3. The overall companies objectives and agreed targets
  4. The current and required skills and education of the employees
  5. The jobs and resources that are need to be completed in order for targets to be met.
  6. The motivation of the work force to meet the set targets.

These in many companies are rarely looked at or when looked at they are, they are looked at once and very rarely reviewed on an ongoing basis.

Culture is a completely different topic that I won’t go into here, (but will come back to it in a later blog) culture is predominantly driven by management and employee behavior.

Let’s take items 2-6 and look at these in the context of company and employee performance.

What does 2-6 mean (or now 1-5)

1. Behaviours


3.Skills education and training

4.Job specifications

5.Employee and management motivations

  1. For a persons performance to be accessed accurately you need to have a behavioural framework to assess a persons ongoing behaviour against. In progressive companies you will have a behavioural framework where people are recruited and managed against on an ongoing basis. Sometimes companies can call their behavioural frame work “values”. Mostly even when progressive companies adapt this approach they only establish their behaviours or values in a once off intervention and normally completed by Senior Management and rarely get reviewed. In my opinion these behaviours should be reviewed at least annually to ensure they are up today with the objectives and direction of the company
  2. The overall objectives of the Company should be set at least once a year and should reflect 5 years, 3 years and one year (with more time spent on the one year). Even through the course of the year these objectives could change quarter on quarter and month on month an your review system should be flexible to react to this. When Company objectives are set they should then be cascaded from the CEO to their mean and all the way down the organization so at the entry level the persons objectives should reflect the Company objectives in some way. The Companies agreed behaviors ethics values or ethos should be reflective from senior management to entry level. For this to work the minimum has to be quarterly conversations between employees and their managers.
  3. Skills education and training. This in most organizations gets assessed when a person joins the company and is taken into consideration when a skill or very is required to do a job. This in my opinion needs to be assessed at least on a yearly basis depending on the persons job or their motivations for advancement. This can be completed yearly or at anytime a person changes job within the organization and is commonly known as a training needs analysis or “TNA”.
  4. Job Specifications. Again most companies can have or do hold job specifications for most jobs but these specifications rarely get reviewed in fact most organizations’ job specs get created at the onset of the job and never get reviewed. Everyone’s job specification should be reviewed annually and should be initially reviewed by the individual and agreed by their manager.
  5. Employee and Managers Motivations. Of all the measurable and observable areas this is most important and most often left out when assessing people at work. Motivations of people change all the time and it is foolish to think that the motivations of a new graduate are anyway like the motivations of a man or a woman with 3 kids and in their 40’s in fact everyone’s motivations can change weekly but should be at least observe red or assessed monthly in my opinion.

So in my opinion in short for the most effective management system you should have ;  yearly review objectives, training needs, job specifications  and company behaviours. ; Quarterly review team and individual objectives and ;Monthly review individual behaviours (against your framework) and personal motivations against company objectives.

So I still agree with Dave Calhoun performance systems at a minimum need to force a conversation between an employee and their manager at least once a month, the content of this conversation will differ depending on the level and job type.

On the subject of ratings and how that might be deal with I will talk about in later blog!

In short performance management is really about the ongoing management of people.  If you think you can rollout a successful performance management ecosystem in a company by just adopting a prescribed automated system and have it working effectively after one year you are kidding yourself.

Adam Coleman

CEO HRLocker


Adam Coleman
hief Executive Officer

What is Performance Management? was last modified: October 22nd, 2021 by Adam Coleman

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