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We Ask the Experts

How can HR improve the performance management process?

MHR Burberry Murphy Premier Foods

In any organisation, having high-performing employees can be hugely beneficial to the business. For example, a blog post from People Mentor stated that staff who work on high-performing teams are likely to be more engaged and motivated – traits that can often translate into increased commercial success. The post claimed that high-performing teams are far more independent at work, so they don’t continuously need to be fed information or solutions to problems. With the benefits of this in mind, performance management plays an active role in keeping staff on track and ensuring that workers are performing to a high level.

The CIPD describes performance management as something that “aims to monitor, maintain and improve employee performance in line with an organisation's objectives.” The professional body for HR practitioners explained that rather than this being a single activity, it is a group of practices that should be looked at in a holistic manner. When looking at what this aims to achieve, a blog post from HR specialist firm Four Vision explained that performance management can help HR to track staff performance, from things such as indicating whether employees need more support or not or can handle higher-level training, for example.

Organisations that focus on a regular performance management process can reap the benefits, as data has shown. In fact, a Betterworks survey found that employers focusing on continuous performance management outperformed their competitors at a 24% higher rate. The data also found that when organisations have a continuous performance management programme in place, they are 39% better at attracting talent and 44% better at retaining them – benefits which could hugely help organisations.

With these benefits in mind, it is crucial that HR thinks about how they can improve the performance management process. For this month’s burning HR question, we spoke to our Advisory Board experts to find out how the people function can improve the performance management process. Read their thoughts below.

Jeanette Wheeler,
Acting Chief HR Officer,
MHR International

“To ensure any improvements to performance management processes are successful internally, HR needs to first work with the wider organisation to ensure there is a strategy, focus and intention behind their performance management approach and expected outputs. By rebranding ‘performance management’ as ‘performance strategy’, we turn the reactive into the proactive, giving stakeholders at all levels something to champion, and creating a shared understanding of the purpose behind these processes.

“It’s also vital that any improvements to performance processes are people-focused, encouraging organic, human conversations at the heart of each encounter. We often see the opportunity to develop desirable key skills such as resilience, creativity, resourcefulness and flexibility inadvertently shrunk by imposing ‘one-size-fits-all’ performance structures across an organisation, and whilst a balance of this can ensure an element of consistency and fairness, too much of a rigid structure will ultimately inhibit self-sufficiency and engagement across teams and individuals in these processes.”

 

Jeanette Wheeler,
Acting Chief HR Officer,
MHR International

“To ensure any improvements to performance management processes are successful internally, HR needs to first work with the wider organisation to ensure there is a strategy, focus and intention behind their performance management approach and expected outputs. By rebranding ‘performance management’ as ‘performance strategy’, we turn the reactive into the proactive, giving stakeholders at all levels something to champion, and creating a shared understanding of the purpose behind these processes.

“It’s also vital that any improvements to performance processes are people-focussed, encouraging organic, human conversations at the heart of each encounter. We often see the opportunity to develop desirable key skills such as resilience, creativity, resourcefulness and flexibility inadvertently shrunk by imposing ‘one-size-fits-all’ performance structures across an organisation, and whilst a balance of this can ensure an element of consistency and fairness, too much of a rigid structure will ultimately inhibit self-sufficiency and engagement across teams and individuals in these processes.”

 

Amir Kabel,
Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion,
Burberry

“Performance management is often a process that not many organisations think about when it comes to D&I and company D&I strategy. There is an opportunity to ensure a process that all employees go through can be inclusive and as much as possible, bias free.

“Find ways to remove bias in language and in conversations. This can be done to ensure your language isn’t gendered or perpetuating stereotypes. Also think about how accurate, objective and bias-free the feedback [is]. If you [can’t] articulate your reasoning very clearly, then bias may possibly be in play.”

Amir Kabel,
Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion,
Burberry

“Performance management is often a process that not many organisations think about when it comes to D&I and company D&I strategy. There is an opportunity to ensure a process that all employees go through can be inclusive and as much as possible, bias free.

“Find ways to remove bias in language and in conversations. This can be done to ensure your language isn’t gendered or perpetuating stereotypes. Also think about how accurate, objective and bias-free the feedback [is]. If you [can’t] articulate your reasoning very clearly, then bias may possibly be in play.”

Dawn Moore,
Group People and Communications Director,
Murphy Group

“HR can improve the performance management process by making sure they look at it holistically. By that I mean performance management covers a broad spectrum – how an organisation needs to grow and [nurture] high performers, how it deals with underperformance and how it sustains performance.

“This broad remit means a number of different interventions and types of support it requires to be effective is very broad. Managers also need support and coaching on how to deploy the different types of performance management effectively at both individual, team and wider business level.

“If we are true to the view that people are critical to the success of any organisation, regardless of sector, then effective and holistic performance management is critical to every organisations’ success.”

 

Dawn Moore,
Group People and Communications Director,
Murphy Group

“HR can improve the performance management process by making sure they look at it holistically. By that I mean performance management covers a broad spectrum – how an organisation needs to grow and [nurture] high performers, how it deals with underperformance and how it sustains performance.

“This broad remit means a number of different interventions and types of support it requires to be effective is very broad. Managers also need support and coaching on how to deploy the different types of performance management effectively at both individual, team and wider business level.

“If we are true to the view that people are critical to the success of any organisation, regardless of sector, then effective and holistic performance management is critical to every organisations’ success.”

 

David Wilkinson,
Group HR Director,
Premier Foods

“Performance management is often written about in HR circles, but it is much more than an HR programme. Done well, it is a vital management tool for colleague engagement with a company's purpose and successful business outcomes. There are a handful of principles key to a successful performance management system:

  1. Get buy-in and commitment from senior leadership – they are sponsors and should be advocates of the system.

  2. Any goals set by employees should be linked to the overall business purpose and strategy.

  3. Balance financial goals with behavioural ones, such as team leadership, development, and culture. These will work in tandem to improve the business.

  4. Make it inclusive – everyone must take part for the process to be effective, and we should all have goals and to keep track of our performance.

  5. Finally, the process should be simple and ideally based around an IT platform for ease of reporting and consistency.”

David Wilkinson,
Group HR Director,
Premier Foods

“Performance management is often written about in HR circles, but it is much more than a HR programme. Done well, it is a vital management tool for colleague engagement with a company's purpose and successful business outcomes. There are a handful of principles key to a successful performance management system:

  1. Get buy-in and commitment from senior leadership – they are sponsors and should be advocates of the system.

  2. Any goals set by employees should be linked to the overall business purpose and strategy.

  3. Balance financial goals with behavioural ones, such as team leadership, development, and culture. These will work in tandem to improve the business.

  4. Make it inclusive – everyone must take part for the process to be effective, and we should all have goals and to keep track of our performance.

  5. Finally, the process should be simple and ideally based around an IT platform for ease of reporting and consistency.”

Hear from Amir Kabel at HRGV Live 2022, featuring two days of virtual insight, discussion, and peer-led learning.

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