Performance management: Human resources’ critical component


A lot has been said about the role of the human resources (HR) department in the performance management system.

HR Talk with Paul Nyausaru

Different views have emerged from the debate and this has formed the basis for this article which seeks to clarify the issue.

In most organisations, senior managers have held back from conducting this very important human resource function usually because of the fact that they are uncomfortable and inexperienced in conducting the exercise.

It is very common to hear them indicating that performance appraisals do not work and are a waste of time which does not bring intended results.

Before I delve into the real issue of the role of HR in performance management, let’s briefly take a look at the traditional approach of HR in appraisals and then shift the discussion towards the new strategic role of HR in managing employee’s performance.

Traditional HR performance appraisal systems weigh how well a subordinate satisfied his/her superior during the appraisal period.

The degree of satisfaction, however, may or may not be related to how well the employee contributed to organisational strategic goals.

It has been realised that more often than not, the performance does not.

For this reason then, this kind of appraisal has become a highly politicised, controversial and biased exercise that creates more dissonance than teamwork in the organisation.

Modern HR appraisal systems which are closely linked to strategic management have changed direction where employees are appraised on the more relevant output performance like quality, productivity, internal and external customer satisfaction.

Thus strategic HR aims at changing employee behaviour and attitude by directly connecting appraisal to what actually matters to organisational performance and customer satisfaction.

HR then has to play a strategic role to develop capability, attitude and to initiate performance with quality where HR has to collaborate with line managers to retain employees, which ultimately affects the retention of customers.

It is imperative for the HR department to ensure that the appraisal system in place achieves the goal of allowing an employee the opportunity to progress to their full potential in order to meet organisational needs and the employee’s personal development goals.

HR should also ensure that the performance appraisal system in place is capable of promoting true teamwork and maximum performance.

So the backbone of a successful performance appraisal system is improved communication between the employee and the supervisor.

The role of HR in performance appraisal is no longer just related to the designing of the system, but to a substantial role of being mentor, regulator and looking into details of why an employee’s performance is below the expected standard.

The HR department should also play its role of organising mid-term reviews of the appraisal process before final evaluation.

Thus, the success of the appraisal system lies to a greater extent with the HR department if it is to succeed.


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