Experience shows that in many organizations management does not manage the performance of the workforce in an effective way. In many cases the attitude seems to be that as long as the work tasks are managed, rather than the people who do the work tasks, everything will turn out positively.
Performance management should not be equated with a yearly performance appraisal. Performance management is a process, while appraisal is a snapshot. A formalappraisal can fit into the process, but it takes on far less significance when regular and effective performance management takes place.
Five key components make up the process of effective performance management. They are:
1. Clear performance standards exist and they should be written, measurable and current.
2. There is on-going communication between the manager and the worker regarding the performance standards, and this should begin on the first day the worker becomes the manager’s responsibility.
3. The manager gives frequent feedback to the worker regarding performance.
4. The manager coaches the worker to sustain good performance and to improve poor performance.
5. The managers manage the consequences of both good and poor performance.
Most organizations that have been in existence for some time have some or all of the following tools available to assist in the managing the work:
a) Job descriptions (sometimes they may not be available for all jobs or they may be outdated)
b) Standards, such as quantity, quality, cost, time, etc.
c) Policies and procedures which guide the organization of the work place
d) A discipline policy tied to work place behavior and work expectations
e) A formal appraisal system
Managers and supervisors use performance management tools in varying degrees. Some have the attitude that as long as operations are proceeding satisfactorily, nothing needs to be said. It is only when output does not meet expectations that the manager or supervisor needs to take action.
Some of the reasons given by managers and supervisors for not seeing performance management as a major responsibility, or not doing it on a consistent basis are:
-Good performance is expected and therefore does not need to be discussed
-Some of the performance management components are missing (e.g. clear performance expectations do not exist or are not current)
-Fear of confrontation when performance is poor
-Fear of losing control when good performance is praised
-All that is important is “getting the work done”
The manager or supervisor may feel that engaging actively in performance management is meaningless since their views or evaluations will be overturned by someone in the human resources department, or the presence of a union inhibits effective performance management. (Most union contracts have a clause: “Management has the right to manage.”) Others do recognize the importance of performance management and carve out time in their busy schedules to actively engage in managing performance consistently in the work unit. When they do that, performance is much more consistent and positive.