HR Policies & Procedures

More Fatal Flaws of Performance Management

In yesterday’s Advisor, we presented the first seven of our 10 flaws that may afflict a typical performance management system; today, the final three pitfalls to avoid while you’re assessing employees during appraisals.

8. Not Being Clear

During a performance appraisal, managers must be clear. This is tougher than it seems; managers often want to soften bad news, which can result in employees not getting the message. Managers may also be vague in explaining expectations, leading to miscommunication and other problems later. Give specific recommendations and examples for improvement.

9. Using the System Inconsistently

When different managers or departments are inconsistent in when and how they implement the performance management system, this can set up situations in which employees perceive unfairness or favoritism. This can negatively impact both productivity and morale—and can appear discriminatory in some cases. A related issue is when managers intentionally give ratings that are inaccurate. For example, a manager may inaccurately rank someone highly in order to move them to a new (undeserved) role, just to get them out of the department. Another example—falsely ranking someone too low, which can happen if rankings are forced, rushed, or implemented with personal bias.


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10. System Design or Implementation Failures

Such failures might include:

  • Lack of buy-in from senior managers, which often means they won’t require their teams to use the system properly. Change management is a difficult process and should not be taken lightly. Management buy-in is a key component.
  • Failure to fully assess the best design that meets the needs of the organization. A system that seems to be designed for another company isn’t likely to have much support from those who must use it.
  • Incompatibility or duplication of other systems. Employees and managers alike will be reluctant to use a system if they feel their efforts must be duplicated from other systems still in place. Ideally, the performance management system will be integrated with all related systems, such as employee development programs and other Human Resources Information Systems (HRIS) programs.
  • Lack of a mechanism to elicit feedback and continually improve the system.
  • Failing to designate who is responsible for each component of the implementation and follow-up.

As you can see, many flaws with performance management systems come down to people and implementation. This is an arduous process, and it’s easy to see how even well-meaning organizations can have trouble maximizing the benefits.

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  • Employees all over the world, many of whom you’ve never met in person
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  • And the new normal—doing more … with less

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