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The concept that people’s work performance can somehow be managed by others is one that dies hard.  “Management by Objectives”, “360 degree appraisal”, “Competencies” are words disturbing enough to strike fear into the most committed of employees.  The very words performance management  are much used as a euphemism for a capability, or even a disciplinary, dismissal process.  They can even be a cover for bullying.

Small wonder then that the prospect of a performance appraisal is viewed with trepidation by those who are appraised – despite an association with the word “praise” – and those who have to appraise. Many managers intuitively shrink from the appraisal interview; consequently the process is more common in the big corporate organisations than in SMEs – perhaps one reason is that those requiring appraisals are distanced from those implementing them. Unsurprising then that performance management so often fails to deliver its promise.

Yet without some good practices in setting expectations and agreeing targets, and in identifying and implementing personal development,  enterprises are unlikely to optimise individual and teamwork. A competitive edge is by definition thin and easily lost.

Today’s focus is increasing towards personal development, coaching, and learning as cornerstones of performance management. The individual employee as, Jill Hills outlines here, is likely to play a much more proactive role in a performance management process. The underlying assumption is that both parties, employer and employee, have information to share and ideas to bring to the table. Listening has to replace the temptation to tell.

For more detail you might like to read the relevant chapter in our book Human Resource Practice (6th Edition out soon), consider the experience and performance of “Best Companies” and, for ideas on listening, work by Charlie Green, such as Trust Based Selling.