Performance Planning and Review: Making Employee Appraisals Work

By Richard Rudman | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 2
PERFORMANCE AND
PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT

Performance has become a business buzz word. That's not a bad thing, especially if it works to remind us that organisations exist for a purpose. They're established to do things and to achieve results—and that applies to public service and not-for-profit organisations as much as to profit-motivated commercial firms.

Organisations use many different approaches in the quest for a high-performance workplace. Manufacturers turn to lean production and just-in-time methods; small businesses use flexible specialisation to harness networks; production and service organisations put the focus on total quality or continuous improvement; team-working is more and more common; corporations and processes are re-engineered—and so on. What everyone realises, sooner or later, is that the organisation's performance is only partly dependent on its technology, processes and systems. What is more important is the performance of its employees— and so the management of employees' performance is a principal contributor to organisational success.

But what does performance actually mean? It can be defined very simply as focused behaviour or purposeful work. In other words, jobs exist to achieve specific and defined results, and people are employed to do those jobs because the organisation wants to achieve those results. Thus, performance is what we need from employees if organisations are to achieve their business objectives.

However, job performance is different from mere work activity. People can spend their days writing reports, going to meetings, operating machines, driving buses or talking with colleagues—but those are work activities. They must be put in a context of what the organisation wants its employees to do, and how well, before we can assess whether work activities are contributing to effective performance, for either the individual or the organisation. The manager's role is to help employees focus their behaviour—in other words, to convert their activity into performance. That conversion is not very difficult, so long as managers

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