There’s an obvious ambivalence among both managers and employees when it comes to performance management. While performance appraisals can justify wage increases, there’s also a certain amount of angst connected to being evaluated and evaluating employee performance. The compensation boost and the dreaded annual performance appraisal meeting suggest that a number of performance management strengths and weaknesses exist.
Communication and Expectations
A well-developed performance management system forces employers to communicate their expectations to employees. Providing job applicants and prospective employees with job descriptions and specifications are part of the first stage of communicating what the company expects. This signals the employer has given thought to the qualifications it expects employees to contribute. Without a clear understanding of the intent of a job description, employees may believe the job description is an all-inclusive list of duties and responsibilities. Job descriptions are outlines of job responsibilities -- they're not intended to be checklists nor exhaustive lists of job tasks. Employees who follow job descriptions to the letter may find themselves struggling with lack of career mobility. Job descriptions can be both the strength and weakness of a performance management system if they are inflexible and especially if they discourage employee initiative.
Performance standards are one of the strengths of any performance management system because they set specific guidelines for employees. In organizations that rely on performance standards as strict guidelines for evaluating performance, there’s a standard for every job duty and task. A performance standard for data entry personnel, for instance, might be to maintain 80 percent accuracy for at least three quarters out of four. Data entry workers who manage to achieve 95 percent accuracy on their assignments for the entire year know they’ll receive an evaluation that indicates they exceeded the company’s expectations. On the other hand, data entry personnel who have difficulty with consistently maintaining accuracy may fall short of the company’s standards and, therefore, be subject to performance improvement measures.
Employers that provide leadership training to supervisors and managers responsible for conducting performance appraisals improve the effectiveness of their performance management systems. However, when the leadership training doesn’t address fundamental issues in performance management, it turns into a simple classroom activity on the mechanics of presenting information during a supervisor-employee conference. Employers strengthen their leadership training by including learning objectives concerning the philosophy of performance management.
Employee Self Assessment
Self evaluations within a performance management system are both strengths and weaknesses. Employees capable of looking at their performance in an objective manner using their job descriptions, personal records of achievement and their performance throughout the review period, obviously understand the importance of being earnest in their self assessment. When employers merely use the self assessment process as part of the performance management system to claim they value employee input without actually incorporating comments from employee assessments in the manager’s appraisal, they become a weakness within the company’s overall performance management system.
Ruth Mayhew has been writing since the mid-1980s, and she has been an HR subject matter expert since 1995. Her work appears in "The Multi-Generational Workforce in the Health Care Industry," and she has been cited in numerous publications, including journals and textbooks that focus on human resources management practices. She holds a Master of Arts in sociology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. In addition, she earned both the SHRM-Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP), through the Society for Human Resource Management, and certification as athe Senior Professional Human Resources (SPHR) through the Human Resources Certification Institute. Ruth also is certified as a facilitator for the Center for Creative Leadership Benchmarks 360 Assessment Suite, and is a Logical Operations Modern Classroom Certified Trainer . Ruth resides in North Carolina and works from her office in the nation's capital, Washington, D.C.