Should HRM stop with performance management?
Is it time time for the HR manager to take leave of performance management? Prof. Dr. Jaap Paauwe, Academic Director of the TIAS Advanced Human Resource Program, lists a number of considerations in this column.
Many people see the assessment cycle as the heart of HRM. The cycle of setting goals, providing feedback, performance appraisal or assessment interviews, including the consequences thereof in terms of appreciation, rewards and additional training/education. So it was a big shock when, just before the summer, management consultancy Accenture announced that it was stopping with assessment interviews. Prominent players such as Microsoft and GE also indicated their intention to stop with the annual assessment cycle and that they are looking for alternatives.
It does have something artificial about it. Assessing an entire year of hard work - or not so hard work - in an hour-long interview (though the line manager often takes less time for it). A number of headings also need to be dealt with and given a mark or letter. The result is an overall assessment with possible consequences for career, promotion and incremental pay rises.
Of course there are alternatives. For instance, a number of companies have replaced the one-off performance appraisal and/or assessment interview with a dialog between the line manager and the employee which has a far more continuous character. Several times a year consideration is given to agreements, the state of affairs, realized goals and any extra support needed. Moreover there is far more reciprocity, two-way communication and constructive discussion, instead of a rushed and unsatisfactory end-of-year interview.
360 degree feedback
In itself, the present discussion about whether or not to abolish performance appraisal and assessment interviews or to set them up differently is nothing out of the ordinary. Every experienced HR manager knows that the assessment system loses its luster and the organization wants something new.
Consider the hype of some ten to fifteen years ago surrounding 360 degree feedback assessment systems. These became very popular, until practice showed that at a given moment those concerned assessed each other with a degree of nuance. After all, at some stage it will be your turn, so you mustn't be too negative about your colleagues. The result: the same gray and poorly differentiating picture as with traditional assessment systems.
Positive effect proved
In brief, the specific form of performance appraisal and assessment system is not really so relevant. Important is, that the heart of HRM is formed by performance management. Setting goals, providing feedback and on those grounds stimulating the further development of the employee are central here.
It may be a comforting thought that the positive effect of setting goals, providing feedback and stimulating development, has been amply proved by academic research. The rest is a creative interpretation which is subject to fashion and consequently change.
Advanced Human Resource Program
Prof. Dr. Jaap Paauwe is Academic Director of the TIAS Advanced Human Resource Program. With this program you will be better able to tackle complicated HRM problems and you will develop into a strategic partner in the board room.
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This article has been taken from P&Oactueel, www.penoactueel.nl, with the permission of the editor.