Performance Management - Meaning, System and Process

Definition of Performance Management

The role of HR in the present scenario has undergone a sea change and its focus is on evolving such functional strategies which enable successful implementation of the major corporate strategies. In a way, HR and corporate strategies function in alignment. Today, HR 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. Today, all the major activities of HR are driven towards development of high performance leaders and fostering employee motivation. So, it can be interpreted that the role of HR has evolved from merely an appraiser to a facilitator and an enabler.

Performance management is the current buzzword and is the need in the current times of cut throat competition and the organizational battle for leadership. Performance management is a much broader and a complicated function of HR, as it encompasses activities such as joint goal setting, continuous progress review and frequent 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. Performance management can be regarded as a systematic process by which the overall performance of an organization can be improved by improving the performance of individuals within a team framework. 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 management programs received utmost importance for achievement of superior standards and quality performance. Tools such as job design, leadership development, training and reward system received an equal impetus along with the traditional performance appraisal process in the new comprehensive and a much wider framework. Performance management is an ongoing communication process which is carried between the supervisors and the employees through out the year. The process is very much cyclical and continuous in nature. 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.

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.

To conclude, performance management can 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 accomplishment of excellence in performance.


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