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Why Declutter Performance Management


I recently read a 2004 article by Lyle Potgieter, Head of PeopleStreme Human Capital titled “Trends in Performance Management”.  His conclusion at the time was “Performance management has progressed from Appraisals and Reviews to a valuable tool to drive business”.


While my personal experience suggests he may have been a little too optimistic, I agree there is potential for performance management to be a valuable tool to drive business if we learn from our mistakes and avoid them in the future.


Performance management is generally defined as “The process of setting and monitoring measures and objectives to provide a snapshot of how the organisation is progressing towards strategic plans and goals”.  In my view no performance management system will ever help achieve this outcome while it incorporates all of the following:

  1. Communications between a supervisor and employee

  2. Clarifying expectations

  3. Addressing poor performance

  4. Identifying development opportunities

  5. Identifying an organisation’s total training needs

  6. Resolving pay issues

… especially when overlayed with a compliance mentality based on managing to the lowest common denominator.


Just ask yourself does that sound like “a valuable tool for driving business”?


The evidence suggests not:  i.e.

  1. 95% of managers are dissatisfied with their performance management system

  2. 90% of HR Managers believe they do not yield accurate information

  3. 45% of employees don’t think they are an accurate appraisal of their work

  4. 30% of performance reviews ended up in decreased employee performance

I and a growing list of contemporary writers including Di Armbrust, Tim Baker, Sam Culbert, Roger Ferguson, Professor Nick Holley, Ted Mouradian, Dan Pink, Professor Paul Thompson and Graham Winter argue a fundamental change is needed. 

We all argue a great place to start is to declutter the process. I.e.

  1. Get performance management back to just communications and identifying development opportunities

  2. Keep the process and record-keeping simple. 

  3. Avoid a compliance mentality and managing to the lowest common denominator

  4. Move the other stuff like poor performance and resolving pay issues out of performance management and into other policy settings

  5. Start with this simple shift in thinking and in my experience extraordinary results will be achieved.


Are you up to the challenge?

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Mark Shaw

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