Do You Secretly Question the Value of Performance Management?

By Heather Campbell

“I’ve got to let you into a secret. I never liked the whole formal performance management thing – and it’s not just because the managers hate me for nagging them about it!”

The Head of HR who made this confession isn’t unique.

I’ve been there myself.

As a former Head of HR & OD in the financial services and utilities sectors, I spent many hours trying to convince leaders that performance management was their responsibility – not something that ‘belonged’ to HR.

At the same time, it’s been my role to devise the systems and processes that facilitated annual review meetings, objective-setting and personal development planning.

So, not surprisingly, those same leaders saw this as the evidence that HR did indeed ‘own’ the whole, sometimes rather cumbersome, process.

Increasing evidence suggests it’s been a whole lot of fuss with questionable value.

Some of the emerging statistics about the ineffectiveness of formal performance processes are concerning:

  • study by Wharton Business School showed that performance actually declined when people were compared to other employees.
  • Research cited in this Forbes article found that only 55% of employees feel that performance management works.
  • And Deloitte reported that 58% of HR executives in the US thought that performance reviews were an ineffective use of managers’ time.

So it’s no surprise that a growing number of companies are calling traditional performance management into question.

At the same time, it can be hard to find a meaningful alternative.

While I’m enjoying the debate, I certainly haven’t found a magical solution.

But I do have a way to make it easier for leaders to have conversations about performance – whether in formal or informal settings.

It’s a solution that can be used for coaching, giving feedback, setting objectives, planning development and all the other discussions that really lead to effective performance.

And as well as making the conversations themselves easier and more effective, it takes up less time into the bargain.

It’s been road-tested time after time by busy managers across a range of industries and it works.

I’m going to share more about it in my next blog post.

CommsMasters is the UK’s leading training consultancy specialising in building advanced leadership communication capability. We partner with our clients to improve organisational performance through developing their people. We do this by designing and delivering bespoke programmes using our unique combination of knowledge, experience and practice-based learning. If you’d like to find out more, give us a call on +44 (0)141 419 0183 or drop us a line.

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