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I think focusing on supervisors/managers is also wrong! Performance comes from the employee. Performance is difficult to coerce from the outside, whether you are management or HR.

Those of us who run our businesses, are independent consultants, are researchers, innovators do not need performance management (we find interesting work and do it, all performance is internally generated). It is a pull, not a push model of work/discovery/learning.

Do you think Apple tightly manages those working on a new product? No, they get out of the way and let the talented people do their thing. (Apple does tightly manage info leaks about their products).

With most knowledge workers, the less you "manage" the better! Maybe supervisors should help remove obstacles???

Another feature of the 'old HR-owned' model of performance management (PM)is that it is usually reflective in its scope and is not primarily future-focused. Future-focused PM creates a collaboration or shared strategy between managers and employees that aims for the intersection of the employee's career goals and the needs of the organization (or what the manager needs in the future from the role that the employee fills).

Since this intersection lies somewhere in the future, managers and employees need (and want) to come together much more frequently than once a year to discuss the employees progress.

I agree with multi-rater feedback. This widens the scope and brings a whole new POV to the system.

Fascinating and highly relevant stuff here. Thanks for writing on this, Ann, and for everyone's comments. I tend to agree with what you said, Anne, about it not being HR's job to get PM right. Managers contribute to this, of course, but I really think it starts with the executive leadership answering, and acting on, questions like: What type of company do we want to create? What does the ideal culture look like? And what kind of people do we bring on to sustain that culture? That evolution of thinking aids PM because then you run into far less of a situation of HR, managers, or some combination of the two having to spend an inordinate amount of time getting "square" people fitting into "round" pegs to produce optimum results (top quality work within an environment of high engagement and camaraderie).

I also like what Bill said about, for future-focused PM, the necessity of managers and employees coming together frequently. In my experience, at my employer that studies people practices and their impact on the bottom line in small businesses, I think this is an inherent advantage that they have versus their larger competitors.


Of course performance comes from the employee. I don't think many of us would argue with that assertion. But I don't think the concept of good management is inconsistent with self-motivation. Even (I would argue - especially) self-motivated workers benefit from expectation setting, guidance, coaching, feedback and (to your point) assistance in identifying and removing the obstacles to good performance. Merely finding interesting work and doing it may not be what the organization needs to better serve its customers.


Agree on the importance of a future-based perspective - and on the importance of ongoing (rather than annual) performance conversations between the employee and the manager.


Agree that multi-rater feedback offers great potential to performance enhancement when handled effectively. Unfortunately, it isn't always done effectively. See the following...



Great points and I agree about the process starting with thoughtful foundation setting at the executive leadership level. Without that, management-centered performance management is hard pressed to really get off the ground.

Thanks - all - for the thoughtful comments and observations!

True, managers should also be made accountable for their employees' work. That way, they truly MOTIVATE, and not merely scare the wits out of their employees.

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About The Author

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    Compensation consultant Ann Bares is the Managing Partner of Altura Consulting Group. Ann has more than 20 years of experience consulting with organizations in the areas of compensation and performance management.

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