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The overall performance of an organization can be enhanced by improving the performance of individuals. [ Photo / thepeoplespace.com ]

MANAGING PERFORMANCE

In the era of cut throat competition and globalization, organizations have realized the importance of awell-designed performance management system which plays a crucial role in streamlining the activities of the employees to realize the ultimate mission and vision. Performance management is a useful tool for aligning all the major organizational functions and sub-functions so the focus is directed towards attainment of organizational goals.

The role of Human Resource Management (HRM) in the 21st century and in the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) has undergone tremendous changes and its focus is on evolving such functional strategies that enable successful implementation of the major corporate strategies.

In a way, HRM and corporate strategies function in alignment. Today, HRM works towards facilitating and improving the performance of the employees by building a conducive work environment and providing maximum opportunities to the employees for participating in organizational planning and decision-making process.

The major activities of HRM are driven towards development of high-performance leaders and fostering employee motivation. So, it can be interpreted that the role of HRM has evolved from merely an appraiser to a facilitator and an enabler.

Performance management is a broader and a complicated function of HRM as it encompasses activities, communication, feedback and coaching for improved performance, implementation of employee development programmes and rewarding achievements.

The process of performance management starts with the joining of a new incumbent in a system and ends when an employee quits the organization.

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Performance management can be regarded as a systematic process by which the overall performance of an organization can be enhanced by improving the performance of individuals. It is a means for promoting superior performance by communicating expectations, defining roles within a required competence framework and establishing achievable benchmarks.

According to Armstrong and Baron (1998), Performance Management is both a strategic and an integrated approach to delivering successful results in organizations by improving the performance and developing the capabilities of teams and individuals.

The term performance management gained its popularity in early 1980’s when Total Quality Programs received utmost importance for the achievement of superior standards and quality performance. Performance management is an ongoing communication process that is carried between the supervisors and the employees throughout the year. The process is very much cyclical and continuous in nature.

Performance Management System

A performance management system includes the following actions.

  • Developing clear job descriptions and employee performance plans which includes the key result areas (KRA’) and performance indicators.
  • Selection of right set of people by implementing an appropriate selection process.
  • Negotiating requirements and performance standards for measuring the outcome and overall productivity against the predefined benchmarks.
  • Providing continuous coaching and feedback during the period of delivery of performance.
  • Identifying the training and development needs by measuring the outcomes achieved against the set standards and implementing effective development programs for improvement.
  • Holding quarterly performance development discussions and evaluating employee performance on the basis of performance plans.
  • Designing effective compensation and reward systems for recognizing those employees who excel in their jobs by achieving the set standards in accordance with the performance plans or rather exceed the performance benchmarks.
  • Providing promotional/career development support and guidance to the employees.
  • Performing exit interviews for understanding the cause of employee discontentment and thereafter exit from an organization.

Performance Management Process

A performance management process sets the platform for rewarding excellence by aligning individual employee accomplishments with the organization’s mission and objectives and making the employee and the organization understand the importance of a specific job in realizing outcomes.

 By establishing clear performance expectations which includes results, actions and behaviors, it helps the employees in understanding what exactly is expected out of their jobs and setting of standards help in eliminating those jobs which are of no use any longer. Through regular feedback and coaching, it provides an advantage of diagnosing the problems at an early stage and taking corrective actions.

It’s all about striking harmony between individual and organizational objectives for the accomplishment of excellence in performance. [ Photo / UK small business ]

Performance management can, therefore, be regarded as a proactive system of managing employee performance for driving the individuals and the organizations towards desired performance and results. It’s about striking a harmonious alignment between individual and organizational objectives for the accomplishment of excellence in performance.

Performance Management Objectives

Performance management aims at developing individuals with the required commitment and competencies for working towards the shared meaningful objectives within an organizational framework.

Performance management frameworks are designed with the objective of improving both individual and organizational performance by identifying performance requirements, providing regular feedback and assisting the employees in their career development.

It aims at building a high-performance culture for both the individual and the teams so that they jointly take the responsibility of improving the business processes on a continuous basis and at the same time raise the competence bar by upgrading their own skills within a leadership framework.

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 Its focus is on enabling goal clarity for making people do the right things in the right time. It may be said that the main objective of a performance management system is to achieve the capacity of the employees to the full potential in favor of both the employee and the organization, by defining the expectations in terms of roles, responsibilities and accountabilities, required competencies and the expected behaviors.

The main goal is to ensure that the organization as a system and its subsystems work together in an integrated fashion for accomplishing optimum results or outcomes.

Major Objectives

  • To enable the employees towards achievement of superior standards of work performance.
  • To help the employees in identifying the knowledge and skills required for performing the job efficiently as this would drive their focus towards performing the right task in the right way.
  • Boosting the performance of the employees by encouraging employee empowerment, motivation and implementation of an effective reward mechanism.
  • Promoting a two-way system of communication between the supervisors and the employees for clarifying expectations about the roles and accountabilities, communicating the functional and organizational goals, providing a regular and a transparent feedback for improving employee performance and continuous coaching.
  • Identifying the barriers to effective performance and resolving those barriers through constant monitoring, coaching, counselling and development interventions.
  • Creating a basis for several administrative decisions strategic planning, succession planning, promotions and performance-based payment.
  • Promoting personal growth and advancement in the career of the employees by helping them in acquiring the desired knowledge and skills.

Key Concerns of Performance Management

  • Concerned with the output (the results achieved), outcomes, processes required for reaching the results and also the inputs (knowledge, skills and attitudes).
  • Concerned with measurement of results and review of progress in the achievement of set targets.
  • Concerned with defining Organizational plans in advance for shaping a successful future.
  • Striving for continuous improvement and continuous development by creating a learning culture and an open system.
  • Concerned with establishing a culture of trust and mutual understanding that fosters a free flow of communication at all levels in matters such as clarification of expectations and sharing of information on the core values of an organization that binds the team together.
  • Concerned with the provision of procedural fairness and transparency in the process of decision making.

The performance management approach has become an indispensable tool in the hands of the corporates as it ensures that staff uphold corporate values and tread in the path of accomplishment of the ultimate corporate vision and mission. It is a forward-looking process as it involves both the supervisor and also the employee in a process of joint planning and goal setting in the beginning of the year.

Workings of Performance Management System

Any effective performance management system includes the following components:

  1. Performance Planning: Performance planning is the first crucial component of any performance management process which forms the basis of performance appraisals. Performance planning is jointly done by the appraisee and also the reviewee in the beginning of a performance session. During this period, the employees decide upon the targets and the key performance areas which can be performed over a year within the performance budget which is finalized after a mutual agreement between the reporting officer and the employee.
  2. Performance Appraisal and Reviewing: The appraisals are normally performed twice in a year in an organization in the form of mid reviews and annual reviews which is held in the end of the financial year. In this process, the appraisee first offers the self-filled up ratings in the self-appraisal form and also describes his/her achievements over a period of time in quantifiable terms. After the self-appraisal, the final ratings are provided by the appraiser for the quantifiable and measurable achievements of the employee being appraised. The entire process of review seeks an active participation of both the employee and the appraiser for analyzing the causes of loopholes in the performance and how it can be overcome.
  3. Feedback on the Performance followed by personal counseling and performance facilitation: Feedback and counseling is given a lot of importance in the performance management process. This is the stage in which the employee acquires awareness from the appraiser about the areas of improvements and also information on whether the employee is contributing the expected levels of performance or not. The employee receives an open and a very transparent feedback and along with this the training and development needs of the employee is also identified. The appraiser adopts all the possible steps to ensure that the employee meets the expected outcomes for an organization through effective personal counseling and guidance, mentoring and representing the employee in training programmes which develop the competencies and improve the overall productivity.
  4. Rewarding good performance: This is a very vital component as it will determine the work motivation of an employee. During this stage, an employee is publicly recognized for good performance and is rewarded. This stage is very sensitive for an employee as this may have a direct influence on the self-esteem and achievement orientation. Any contributions duly recognized by an organization helps an employee in coping up with the failures successfully and satisfies the need for affection.
  5. Performance Improvement Plans: In this stage, fresh set of goals are established for an employee and new deadline is provided for accomplishing those objectives. The employee is clearly communicated about the areas in which the employee is expected to improve and a stipulated deadline is also assigned within which the employee must show this improvement. This plan is jointly developed by the appraisee and the appraiser and is mutually approved.
  6. Potential Appraisal: Potential appraisal forms a basis for both lateral and vertical movement of employees. By implementing competency mapping and various assessment techniques, potential appraisal is performed. Potential appraisal provides crucial inputs for succession planning and job rotation.

Performance Management System as a Proactive Enabling Tool

By clearly defining both individual and team-based responsibilities in the form of Key Result Areas (KRA’s) as well as by creating an understanding of shared mutual accountabilities, a good performance management system enables, empowers and facilitates the development of staff members.

Managing the performance of the employees is one of the toughest challenges which the organizations are facing today as this completely depends upon the employee’s commitment, competence and clarity of performance. If managed efficiently through a well-planned reward practice and feedback mechanism, a performance management system can serve as an important tool for employee motivation and development.

A performance management system overcomes the drawbacks of the traditional performance appraisal system by maintaining a futuristic approach instead of assessing the past contributions of the employees for evaluating the performance of the employees.

Employee development

Performance management is a strategic tool and is holistic in nature as it pervades in every activity of the organization which is concerned with the management of individual, team and the overall organizational performance. The process is indispensable and very important for an organization as it is concerned with establishing a culture in which the individuals and teams can excel by continuously improving in terms of skill sets and the business processes.

Performance management facilitates improvement of quality of relationships amongst the members of the organization by encouraging the sharing of expectations and building a climate of openness and mutuality.

The significance of performance management has grown in recent times because most of the organizations are giving a lot of importance to employee development and talent management. The contemporary organizations are working towards grooming the competencies of the employees for maintaining leadership in the competitive market and performing outstandingly.

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About the Author

Dr Elijah O. Achoch is a seasoned Senior Executive with experiential and practical experience in Organizational Transformation. He has strengths in areas of Public Service Transformation, Business Process Re-engineering, Policy Formulation Analysis and Implementation, Strategic Leadership, Knowledge Management, Organizational Planning, Performance Management, and Improvement.

He holds a Doctorate (PhD) degree in Human Resource Management from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), a Master of Science (Msc) degree from the University of Manchester, United Kingdom in Human Resource Management and Development and a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.Hons) degree from University of Nairobi (UON).

Professionally, Dr.Achoch is a Certified Ethics Officer (CEO 131)- from the Ethics Institute of South Africa, a Certified Public Secretary (CPS(k)) from the Institute of Certified Public Secretaries (ICPS). He is a member of the Institute of Human Resource Management Kenya (MIPM (K), Member, Kenya Institute of Management (MKIM) and aChief Examiner in Human Resource Management – Kenya National  Examination Council (KNEC). He was also a Chief Examiner in Proficiency and Administrative Officers Examination, Public Service Commission of Kenya (PSC-K).

Email: [email protected]

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