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Role of the Manager in Performance Management

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An organisation's success is not just dependent upon having the right strategy and resources. It is also reliant upon the ability of its management to harness, direct and support teams and individuals to engage in delivering the organisation's mission and objectives.

Managers play a critical role in delivering performance. Managers need to be able to consistently deliver performance and results and get the best possible performance from the teams and individuals they manage.

Effective performance management enables employees and teams to understand the goals of the organisation and to identify how individual and team outputs contribute to the achievement of organisational objectives in line with organisational values. The integration of people, planning and performance with organisational objectives develops individual, team and organisational capability leading to higher performance.

An effective performance management process helps to establish and support the link between strategic business objectives and people's day-to-day actions and tasks. An effective goal setting system, combined with a process for tracking progression can contribute significantly to individual, team and organisational performance.

An effective performance management process enables first line managers to evaluate and measure individual and team performance and to evaluate performance and productivity.

This are achieved by:

  • Aligning each employees' day-to-day actions with strategic business objectives
  • Providing and make clear accountability related to performance expectations
  • Document individual performance to support career planning decisions
  • Establishing focus for skill development and learning activity choices such as skills matrix.
  • Creating documentation for legal purposes, to support decisions and conflict resolution

Many of the practices that ideally support performance also impact positively on job satisfaction, and employee engagement levels.

Some of the recommended performance management practices include:

  • Providing individuals and teams members with clear, constructive feedback
  • Define and communicate clear performance objectives.
  • Review performance and deliver incentives in a fair and consistent manner
  • Providing relevant learning and training development opportunities
  • Recognize and reward strong individual and team performance.
  • Link performance to compensation and recognition.
  • Identify clear career progress routes for employees.

Performance Management: A Definition

Armstrong and Baron (2004) argue that performance management is about:

'[a] strategy which relates to every activity of the organization set in the context of its human resource policies, culture, style and communication systems'.

Armstrong and Baron

They further argue that the precise nature of the strategy is dependent upon the organizational context and that it will vary from organization to organization.

Performance management is therefore strategic (i.e. it is about broader issues and longer-term business goals) and it should provide an integrated framework connecting various aspects of the business, people management and teams and individuals.

An effective performance management system should embrace:

  • Performance improvement (i.e. supporting individual, team and organisational effectiveness)
  • Development (i.e. supporting the continuous development of individuals and teams resulting in continuous performance improvement)
  • Managing behaviour (i.e. ensuring that people are supported and encouraged to adopt behaviours that promote better working relationships)

Armstrong and Baron further argue that performance management is a tool that helps managers to manage effectively, ensuring that the teams and individuals they manage:

  • Posses the knowledge and skills they need to perform to the required standards
  • Know and understand what is required of them
  • Receive the support from the organisation to perform
  • Are given feedback on and the opportunity to discuss their performance
  • Are encouraged to discuss and contribute to identifying and achieving individual and team objectives

Effective performance management systems also enable managers to understand the impact of their own behaviour and performance on the people they manage.

Performance management for First Line managers is about:

  • Establishing and building a culture within which teams and individuals can take responsibility for developing their own skills, performance and behavior
  • Enabling teams and individuals to contribute to continuous improvement of business processes and performance
  • Communicating and clarifying expectations both from management to employees and vice versa
  • The quality of relationships between managers and individuals, managers and teams, teams and individuals
  • Working collaboratively and collectively to achieve organizational aims and objectives now and in the future
  • Planning and defining organizational, team and individual objectives and how to measure them
  • A continuous process designed to develop the knowledge, skills and capabilities of individuals, teams and organizations to develop and deliver organizational strategy, plans and objectives

Performance management is a process that is supported by a framework of systems, structures and procedures such as appraisal systems, learning and development plans, objective setting and performance measurement systems, and reward and remuneration packages.

The starting point for effective performance management is the organization's strategy, goals and objectives as they provide the context for departmental, team and individual objectives and performance expectations. They provide the context for the preparation of departmental and team plans which in turn inform managers about the knowledge, skills and competencies required by individuals and teams; the number of people required to achieve the objectives and what measurement and feedback systems need to be managed.


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