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Performance management: Valuable or a time waster?
Bontle Songo
HR Executive, DVT

Performance management: Valuable or a time waster?

Most employees have a negative perception when it comes to performance management. Some people feel that it is more acceptable when it is called employee evaluation, performance appraisal or performance review. No matter what your preference is, these terms mean the same thing and are interchangeable.

The primary focus of this process is to bridge skills gaps, hone current talent and ensure that employee skills and expertise are aligned with the company’s strategic goals and objectives. It is aimed at making a positive impact towards employees’ career growth and development.

Challenges with Performance Management

Performance management is a continuous process and is more effective and meaningful when you add a personal touch to it; this means conducting face to face reviews instead of automating the whole process. It requires a more consultative and joint approach which is not always the easiest thing to do in a consulting environment.

Employees in a consulting environment tend to feel isolated and abandoned as they don’t often get to see their line managers. As a result, they think these reviews are a waste of time since managers don’t always have a holistic view or understanding of what they do on a regular basis. In this case, they are more comfortable and confident when their clients or peers review them since line managers are considered subjective and biased. They also don’t have faith in the process and are of the view that it is not always constructive and lacks transparency since they are not involved in creating the criteria and agreeing on expected performance standards.

Consequently, managers in a consulting environment feel that performance management is a waste of time. It is too tedious, detail orientated and yet not making an impact in driving higher productivity or developing top performing teams. The logistics in this process is complicated as employees are scattered at different client sites, making it a painful effort to try and get to each one to provide personal support and give every individual a bit of quality time.

Managers are also under the impression that most consultants don’t need to be involved in this process as they are highly skilled professionals.

5 Benefits of Performance Management

Despite the challenges experienced by most in a consulting environment, there are some real advantages to performance reviews if done correctly:

  • Performance management is not just an annual event but an ongoing process that includes setting SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Agreed, Realistic and Time-Framed.
  • It provides clarity in tasks and duties. The Employee understands organisational goals and objectives and how these fit in with what is required of them to work together with the management team in meeting these objectives.
  • Managers have an understanding of the employee’s skills and experiences and assist them in honing these skills to ensure that employees reach their ultimate potential.
  • By providing employees with feedback on how they are doing can keep them motivated and engaged. Positive feedback helps employees to feel that they are making an impact on their organisation and their clients.
  • Performance management makes it easier for managers to review, recognise and reward outstanding achievements.
So how do you win the Performance Management Challenge?

By following these guidelines, your performance management reviews can ultimately become more effective, easier, quicker and more attractive to all company stakeholders.

  • Every employee appreciates constructive feedback no matter the length of experience. Performance reviews must be effective yet simple, easy and fun.
  • Performance management must be standardised, consistent, transparent and fair.
  • It needs commitment and dedication from both the manager and the employee, with SMART goals set and agreed on by both parties.
  • It should not focus on the negative only but include innovative ways of developing every individual employee’s potential.
  • Documentation should be simplified and shared with employees for consistent reflection and realignment.
  • Automate some of the phases in this process but don't remove the personal touch.