A few words on Performance Management

As I noted in an earlier post, the MBA course I’m currently taking is on Performance Management. Now that I’m a couple of classes in, with some great class discussions having taken place on the readings and case studies thus far I thought I’d post a few thoughts.

So what is Performance Management exactly?

The author of the text that we are using defines Performance Management as, ‘a continuous process of identifying, measuring, and developing the performance of individuals and teams and aligning performance with the strategic goals of the organization’.

So you may be thinking at this point, oh ok, performance appraisals; my company does those. Gotcha. So, what’s to know really? As it turns out, plenty! And, as you may have gathered from my rather smug sounding sentence above, it’s much more than performance appraisals.

As the definition above notes, a performance management system is a continuous process. It aligns employee objectives with organizational objectives and it involves goal setting and development. Performance appraisals on the other hand – described by the author as ‘the systematic description of an employee’s strengths and weaknesses’ – may be a part of a performance management system, but only a part of the larger, over-aching  system.

Ok, “appraisals” versus “systems” – aren’t these just semantics? You say potato, I say potato (this isn’t quite as effective in print, when you can’t hear the different pronunciation – but I think you catch my drift).

Perhaps; but, the take-away is really to understand that regardless of the labels, there is a distinction to be made between an organization who sits down with an employee once a year (or at some other interval, or worse yet on an ad-hoc basis) to tell them about how they have performed in the past – often independent of any larger team or organizational goals – and an organization that has a well constructed system to provide feedback and aid in continuous development opportunities that are beneficial to the employee and the employer alike.

As you could probably imagine, there is a tonne of additional detail I could share from the classes/text/case studies as well as from my own experience, but we shall save that for another day.


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