Performance Measurement for any Application: Benefits and Concerns

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    Performance Management for any Application: Benefits and Concerns

    © Copyright Carter McNamara, MBA, PhD, Authenticity Consulting, LLC. Adapted
    from Field Guide to Consulting and Organizational Development

    Suggested Pre-Reading

    of Performance Management Process for any Application

    Sections of This Topic Include

    4 Key Benefits of Performance management
    15 Other Benefits

    4 Key Benefits of Performance Management

    1. PM focuses on results, rather than behaviors and activities
    A common misconception among supervisors is that behaviors and
    activities are the same as results. Thus, an employee may appear
    extremely busy, but not be contributing at all toward the goals
    of the organization. An example is the employee who manually reviews
    completion of every form and procedure, rather than supporting
    automation of the review. The supervisor may conclude the employee
    is very committed to the organization and works very hard, thus,
    deserving a very high performance rating.

    2. Aligns organizational activities and processes to the
    goals of the organization

    PM identifies organizational goals, results needed to achieve
    those goals, measures of effectiveness or efficiency (outcomes)
    toward the goals, and means (drivers) to achieve the goals. This
    chain of measurements is examined to ensure alignment with overall
    results of the organization.

    3. Cultivates a system-wide, long-term view of the organization.

    Richard A. Swanson, in Performance Improvement Theory and Practice
    (Advances in Developing Human Resources, 1, 1999), explains
    an effective performance improvement process must follow a systems-based
    approach while looking at outcomes and drivers. Otherwise, the
    effort produces a flawed picture. For example, laying off people
    will likely produce short-term profits. However, the organization
    may eventually experience reduced productivity, resulting in long-term
    profit loss.

    4. Produces meaningful measurements
    These measurements have a wide variety of useful applications.
    They are useful in benchmarking, or setting standards for comparison
    with best practices in other organizations. They provide consistent
    basis for comparison during internal change efforts. They indicate
    results during improvement efforts, such as employee training,
    management development, quality programs, etc. They help ensure
    equitable and fair treatment to employees based on performance.

    15 Other Benefits of Performance Management

    Performance Management (PM):
    1. Helps you think about what results you really want. You’re
    forced to be accountable, to “put a stake in the ground”.

    2. Depersonalizes issues. Supervisor’s focus on behaviors and
    results, rather than personalities.

    3. Validates expectations. In today’s age of high expectations
    when organizations are striving to transform themselves and society,
    having measurable results can verify whether grand visions are
    realistic or not.

    4. Helps ensure equitable treatment of employees because appraisals
    are based on results.

    5. Optimizes operations in the organization because goals and
    results are more closely aligned.

    6. Cultivates a change in perspective from activities to results.

    7. Performance reviews are focused on contributions to the
    organizational goals, e.g., forms include the question “What
    organizational goal were contributed to and how?”

    8. Supports ongoing communication, feedback and dialogue about
    organizational goals. Also supports communication between employee
    and supervisor.

    9. Performance is seen as an ongoing process, rather than a
    one-time, snap-shot event.

    10. Provokes focus on the needs of customers, whether internal
    or external.

    11. Cultivates a systems perspective, that is, focus on the
    relationships and exchanges between subsystems, e.g., departments,
    processes, teams and employees. Accordingly, personnel focus on
    patterns and themes in the organization, rather than specific

    12. Continuing focus and analysis on results helps to correct
    several myths, e.g., “learning means results”, “job
    satisfaction produces productivity”, etc.

    13. Produces specificity in commitments and resources.

    14. Provides specificity for comparisons, direction and planning.

    15. Redirects attention from bottom-up approaches (e.g., doing
    job descriptions, performance reviews, etc., first and then “rolling
    up” results to the top of the organization) to top-down approaches
    (e.g., ensuring all subsystem goals and results are aligned first
    with the organization’s overall goals and results).

    Concerns About Performance Management

    Typical concerns expressed about performance management are
    that it seems extraordinarily difficult and often unreliable to
    measure phenomena as complex as performance. People point out
    that today’s organizations are rapidly changing, thus results
    and measures quickly become obsolete. They add that translating
    human desires and interactions to measurements is impersonal and
    even heavy handed.

    Learn More in the Library’s Blogs Related to Performance Management

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