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  • Mark Shaw

Performance Management Can Work

In response to Carolyn Rance’s article “Star Treatment”, I am continually amazed that HR practitioners continue to support performance management processes that are disliked, inefficient and continually reported as not adding value.

But as Carolyn challenges us to consider, how can all the talk be turned into effective action?

For more than seven years I have been involved in implementing an approach to performance management that is relevant, highly accepted, cost effective and adds value.

It starts by assuming most staff are good.  There is no risk of incorrect scores because there are no poor performers to score incorrectly.  Why?  Because by definition they are all good performers.  At the same time, apply a separate system based on risk assessment to poor performing or problematic staff and manage them accordingly.

This approach is readily accepted by managers, employees and unions.  Valued feedback and goal-setting are achieved and business risks and costs significantly reduced.  It demonstrates how to add value to the business by providing HR services rather than just applying HR processes on the business.  HR needs to add value to the business when we provide HR services rather than just imposing HR processes on the business.

Finally consider the words of Brisbane Bronco’s coach, Wayne Bennett; “When you always do what you have always done, you get what you have always got.”


The above was published in HR Monthly in October 2006 and is my response to an article published in June the same year. 

What has changed since then?

On the positive side:

It’s now 16 years since I have been involved in implementing an approach to performance management that is relevant, highly accepted, cost effective and adds value.

More and more contemporary thinkers including Di Armbrust, Tim Baker, Sam Culbert, Roger Ferguson, Ted Mouradian, Dan Pink, Ricardo Semler, Professor Paul Thompson, Graham Winter and me are providing alternatives.

My colleague and I published The 2% Effect (

A growing number of companies such as Accenture and Deloitte’s are changing the way they approach performance management.

The issue of HR being required to prove they are adding value rather than just imposing process is gaining traction.

On the negative side

Unfortunately the evidence continues to indicate too many organisations are still doing what they have always done and getting what they have always got.

Most HR practitioners are still supporting an out-of-date and ineffective performance management models, systems and practices.

Many line managers still remain frustrated with their existing performance management system (

The business case to support changing your performance management approach is clear.  Up to an 80% reduction in time, a 50% reduction in cost and up to a 30% increase in productivity has been proven to be possible.  It just needs you to stand up and say “Let’s stop doing what we have always done, and start getting what we have always wanted – a simple system that delivers value”.

Are you ready for that challenge?

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