I recently asked an employer whether they are currently managing their human capital’s performance and using the performance outcomes to determine developmental areas. The employer confirmed that they do measure and manage performance as they analyse client feedback surveys on a monthly basis. Although analyzing client feedback surveys is correct, it is merely a small piece of the performance management puzzle. Linking performance management and human resource development should be an integral part of an employer’s HR
Practices as this is a tool that can influence an employer’s bottom line and create that competitive advantage we all yearn for.
Robert Bacal defines performance management as a continuous communication processbetween an employee and his/her immediate supervisor, determining clear objectives and clarity with regards to the following:
The employee’s key performance areas
How the employee’s job contributes to the objectives of the company
What are the standards and expectations in terms of the key performance areas?
Measurement of key performance areas
Barriers to performing optimally
How performance can be improved
Performance management should be formalized through a performance management system. Firstly it is important to clearly define the objectives of the company. Secondly these objectives should be translated into strategic outcomes for the different departments within the company. Only then can one start with the individual employee. Determine the “why” behind a position and how it contributes towards the overall objective of the company and only then develop the key performance areas for the position. Determine the weighting of each element in terms of the impact and/or importance in terms of achieving the overall strategy of the company. Determine the different deliverables in terms of the different key performance areas and how each element will be measured. Only after the above has been implemented does one start to measure performance through appraisals or interviews.
To summarize performance management is thus the day-to-day management of employees’ performance to ensure expectations are met in terms of specific job functions.
Human resource development is the process of developing an individual’s skills, knowledge and attributes within the workplace. This can be done by implementing
training interventions, informal or formal, or applying progressive discipline.
Before human resource development interventions can be identified it is crucial for an employer to determine and identify the need and/or areas of concern. This is done by analyzing the current workforce’s competencies against the identified key performance areas and the respective competencies and skills required. The analysis can be done by using various methods such as questionnaires, interviews and performance interview or - appraisal outcomes, to mention but a few. Using performance management to determine developmental areas is very effective, provided that the process is objective. Whichever method one opts to use when analyzing needs; the key is to collect accurate information which also contains enough detail, allowing you to make informed decisions. Few things are as frustrating as deciding on interventions based on inaccurate and insufficient data, only to later realize the actual shortcomings are still there and are now even more prominent, like a sore toe or finger. If done correctly, any time or money spent on interventions immediately becomes an investment instead of a mere expense; one starts viewing it as something that could increase that number on the bottom-line, instead of one that eats into it.
After developmental areas have been identified through performance management it is important to set clear objectives for the employee and prioritise interventions. This can be done according to the weighting of each key performance area of a specific job. Setting clear objectives will enable the employer to measure the performance and/or progress in terms of the interventions and objectives. As performance management is a day-to-day activity the employer will be able to monitor and assess the impact that the different interventions have on the individual’s performance.
The simple concept to remember is why, what and how. Firstly establish why the employee is not performing optimally. Secondly determine what the impact is on this business when that employee is not performing as expected. How many businesses out there bleed revenue due to minor deficiencies and do not even realize it? We need to assess the impact on the business. Lastly establish how you will improve the employee’s performance. When you become aware of shortcomings and you know exactly what impact it has on the business; deciding whether an intervention is worth your time and money becomes quick and easy.
In my opinion one cannot separate performance management and human resource development without sacrificing the effectiveness of the human resource development interventions. This is not merely an activity to ensure productivity but also to allow for personal growth of employees which will in turn affect their well-being and commitment to the company.
For more information on how to link performance management to HR development, please contact the LabourNet Helpdesk at
0861 LABNET (0861 522638).
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