Performance Management: What is "Performance"? (Performance Defined)

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

Organizations try to manage the performance of each employee, team and process and even of the organization itself. The performance management process is very similar, regardless of where it is applied. Information in this topic describes the general performance management process. The information is customized for each application in the topics Employee Performance Management, Group Performance Management and Organizational Performance Management.

Sections of This Topic Include

On Performance in Organizations
Performance Management Applies to More than Employee Performance
Additional Perspectives on Performance Management

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On "Performance" in Organizations

(Performance management is a relatively new concept to the field of management. Performance management literature typically starts out with various examinations of the term "performance". The following information describes how the term "performance" in this library is used in this library.)

Supervisors have conducted performance appraisals for years. Employees have attended training sessions for years. Organization members have worked long, hard hours for centuries. Processes, such as planning, budgeting, sales and billings have been carried out for years in organizations. But all too often, these activities are done mostly for the sake of doing them, not for contributing directly to the preferred results of the organization.

Performance management reminds us that being busy is not the same as producing results. It reminds us that training, strong commitment and lots of hard work alone are not results. The major contribution of performance management is its focus on achieving results -- useful products and services for customers inside and outside the organization. Performance management redirects our efforts away from busyness toward effectiveness.

Recently, organizations have been faced with challenges like never before. Increasing competition from businesses across the world has meant that all businesses must be much more careful about the choice of strategies to remain competitive. Everyone (and everything) in the organization must be doing what they're supposed to be doing to ensure strategies are implemented effectively.

This situation has put more focus on effectiveness, that systems and processes in the organization be applied in the right way to the right things: to achieve results. All of the results across the organization must continue to be aligned to achieve the overall results desired by the organization for it to survive and thrive. Only then it be said that the organization and its various parts are really performing.

Here's a story that further explains what "performance" really is in organizations.

Performance Management Applies to More than Employees

Typically, we think of performance in organizations, we think on the performance of employees. However, performance management should also be focused on:
1. the organization
2. departments (computer support, administration, sales, etc.)
3. processes (billing, budgeting, product development, financial management, etc.)
4. programs (implementing new policies and procedures to ensure a safe workplace; or, for a nonprofit, ongoing delivery of services to a community)
5. products or services to internal or external customers
6. projects (automating the billing process, moving to a new building, etc.)
7. teams or groups organized to accomplish a result for internal or external customers

Additional Perspectives on Performance Management

Defining Performance
Completing the Zen in Performance Management

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