Let’s think about this. Evaluating performance is a good thing, right? So as an HR practitioner (and being realistic about it), how many organizations do you know that apply performance well? How many performance plans have you seen where the performance process actually impacts increases in engagement and productivity?
Let’s face it, performance management is backward looking. By the time you’ve decided to review and reward the employee, the work has already been done. Most managers and employees look at performance plans once or twice a year, and by the next review, the large majority of us have forgotten what our goals were. Put that on top of the fact that 99% of all goals out there have been written to be achieved. In other words, you can achieve your goals even if you forget them simply by doing your job and nothing more. The evaluation of performance (and the provision of a reward) one year later really does nothing for the employee. Bonus plans are nice, but they are based on a quantitative measure of performance without a measure of employee growth.
Not only is performance backward looking, but it does nothing to inspire forward looking enhancements. So the plans for employees to retrain or retool their skill sets are most often poorly designed and implemented. On top of that, there really isn’t any proof that the achievement of the goals actually improve performance beyond what would normally happen if the employee simply performed their work without a performance plan.
My basic hypothesis is that the performance plan and process does not actually improve performance when compared to a non-performance plan environment. My problem is not only do I believe this, but I don’t see a fix for it. Talent management vendors who are selling performance systems are not a solution because until a new theory on performance is brought forth, EPS systems only automate a broken model. Software in this case, is not an answer.
I’m proposing that we scrap performance systems and we pursue increases in employee engagement and mixes of total rewards that are more attuned to employee needs, but we can throw out the old practice of measuring performance scores that is largely meaningless.