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What is performance management in HRM, its Meaning and Definition

Performance management is an important aspect in HRM. It is used to create a work environment where people are motivated to provide their best performance and does the quality work.

Meaning: The performance management is a tool which is widely used by managers to monitor and evaluate the work performance of employees.

Definition: The performance management is defined as a continuous process of identifying, measuring and developing the performance of the employees in the organization.

Often people misconstrue performance management with performance appraisal. However, performance management is quite different then performance appraisal. It is extension of performance appraisal after the feedback or review of the performance.

The three additional steps in performance management are :

a) performance interview

b) archiving performance data

c) use of appraisal data.

Types of Performance Management in HRM

The types of performance are determined based on the vertices included in the appraisal or review system. It can range from the self assessment of the employee to the review from different members of the organization such as managers, peers as well as sometimes extend to check the review of customers and investors.

  1. General Appraisal- In this type of performance management there is continuous communication between the manager and employee regarding the performance throughout the year. They communicate about the per-set goals, the objectives, the performance feedback and set the new goals.
  2. 360-Degree Appraisal- In 360-degree appraisal the feedback about the performance and behavior of the employee is provided by peers and the manager of the employees.
  3. Technological Performance Appraisal- This appraisal is totally based on the technical knowledge of the employee. The technical expertise and capabilities of the employee are throughput and identified by the manager.
  4. Employee Self-Assessment- The employee compare their own performance with the standard performance expected from them. The manager has discussions with employee   about their performance achievement or failure.
  5. Manager Performance Appraisal- This system is design for the appraisal of the manager. Here the feedback from the team members and client is collected to evaluate the performance of the manager.
  6. Project Evaluation Review- This is considered the best way to identify the performance of employee at work. After completion of each project the performance of the employee is evaluated and based on the review another project is assigned to the employee.
  7. Sales Performance Appraisal- A specific monthly or yearly sale target is assigned to the employee at the beginning of the year. At the end of the financial year the sales person is judged on the set target and the sale result of the employee. In this system it is important to set a realistic sales target for the employee.

Objectives and Purpose of performance management system in HRM

The objectives of the performance management system are as follows:

  • It enables the employee to achieve the work performance of set standards
  • It helps to identify the skills and knowledge required to perform a job efficiently.
  • It is very important factor to motivate employees and boost employee empowerment
  • It provides a communication channel between team and supervisor. It makes the goal setting process more transparent.
  • It identifies the issues which leads the low performance and also resolve the issues by providing suggestion about development interventions.
  • It provides data for several important decisions such as promotions, strategic planning, succession planning and performance based compensation.

The purposes of the performance management system are as follows:

  1. Feedback Mechanism: The purpose of performance management system is to develop a systematic feedback mechanism. It creates a pathway through which the employees become aware about their contribution in the organization in terms of performance. It also conveys the employee about the improvement required in the performance to meet the set standards.
  2. Development Concern: It addresses the development issues in the organization. It recognizes the skill and knowledge development required in the organization and facilitates the training programs which are appropriate.
  3. Documentation Concern: It creates a data base for the organization in which all the information about the employees is collected. The information about the performance level, skills, knowledge, expertise and regular rewards received by the employee is maintained in this data base.
  4. Diagnoses of Organizational Problems: The up and down in the performance of the employee is recorded using performance management system. This record helps to diagnosis the organizational problems. It provides idea about where the work is going wrong and what improvements are required to improve the performance status of the organization.
  5. Employment Decisions: Based on the performance management records various important decisions are taken by the management. The decision includes arrangement of training and development programs, promotion, increase or decrease in compensation, hiring decisions and many more.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of performance management

The advantages of the performance management system are as follows:

  1. Documentation: With the help of performance management system you can generate a performance document for every employee for particular financial year. This paper can be maintained in the employee file to cover the performance graph of employee throughout the working years.
  2. Structure: It creates a formal structure for communication between supervisor and employee. It makes it necessary for supervisor and employee to take out time and discuss about the performance as well as bring out a solution to improve performance.
  3. Feedback: Employees are often interested to know the feedback about their performance in the organization. Here performance management system makes it mandatory for the supervisor to provide timely performance feedback to the employees.
  4. Clarify Expectations: Using performance management system managers can clarify about the performance and behavior expectation which employees should understand.
  5. Annual Planning: It plays vital role in the annual planning of hiring, training and development practices and goal settings.
  6. Motivation: As a part of comprehensive compensation strategy the performance management system is very helpful to motivate the employees to improve their performance.

The disadvantages of the performance management system are as follows:

  1. Creates Negative Experience: The system can create a negative experience for the employees, if the performance appraisal is not done in a fair way and feedback is conveyed in a wrong way.
  2. Time Consuming: It is very overwhelming for the managers to evaluate and manage the performance of hundreds of employees working the organization. The process becomes time consuming and not worth it.
  3. Natural Biases: As managers are responsible for several steps in the performance management system a natural bias from the managers end is expected. The natural biases can result in the rater errors.

Performance management feedback

Performance feedback is the most important part of performance management system. It is used by the organization in the following ways:

Areas to Improve: On timely basis the management and the supervisor provide the information to the employee about the areas in which they can improve their performance. It includes tips, ways and coaching for performance improvement.

Game Plan for Improving: Motivation and direction is provided through feedback in order to create a game plan to improve performance.

Achievements and Accomplishments: In performance management system, feedback includes both positive and negative information about employee performance. Manager can declare the achievements and accomplishment of the team member in public meetings or on the common communication platform to motivate the performing employee. A one-to-one meeting is suggested to convey the negative feedback to the employee.

Attitudes and Behaviors: The attitudes and behaviors of the employee are also addressed during the performance management. Through performance feedback the managers put forward the favorable behavior expected from the employee to make a team work success. The upbeat attitude of the employees keeps the organization thriving and inspired.

Goals for Next Year: In the yearly feedback meetings the managers discuss with the employee about the upcoming challenges and work responsibility. New goal and objectives are set for the employees for next financial year. The standard performance expected for the employee is also conveyed in the performance feedback meeting.

Examples of Effective organization performance management

The regular performance management system sometimes does not provide the expected results. Thus there is a need to innovate in the approach towards performance management. Cargill Inc is one of such company which used a creative way to effectively use organization performance management for the betterment of the company. Cargill Inc is a food producer company in Minneapolis. It was very difficult for the company to motivate and engage their 155,000 employees located worldwide. In 2012, the company introduced ‘everyday performance management’ system which acted as a turning point for the organization. The system is used for on job conversation which is a part of feedback and daily work encouragement for the employees. The principles of ‘everyday performance management’ system are  a) Effective performance management is not an annual thing it is an ongoing process b) the quality of the performance can be predicted using day to day activities and not feedback forms c) the most important factor of effective performance management system is the relationship between employee and their manager d) It is essential to design a flexible performance management system to meet the different business needs of the organization.

The leadership team of Cargill recognized that in order to see the visible difference in the performance a dedicated efforts of several performance management cycles is required. The process of performance management was implemented with the involvement of senior leaders and participation of the employee. The HR team of Cargill kept special focus on a) Encouraging the managers who carry out day-to-day performance management by regular rewards b) Documentation of tips and experiences of implementation of new performance management system in the organization c) The teams were accountable for the implementation of day-to-day performance management in the organization d) Special efforts were taken to build up the skills required to implement the new performance management system such as skills to deliver feedback, develop effective two-way communication and coaching.

Here is the way the ‘everyday performance management’ system

 How often to communicate?


Not prescribed; ongoing; based on the needs of manager and employees.

Who initiates/ accountable for feedback communication?


What are topics of communication?

Goal alignment, goal adjustment. goal progress and feedback,

How much documentation?

Documenting each conversation and comments is encouraged.

Use of technology

Simplified, normal notes, e-mails or memos.



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