Performance (mis)management

By Mark Goodlake, Astellas Pharma Europe Ltd

For my sins I’ve been leading a project to harmonise my company’s performance management across 20 countries. An interesting experience and not quite how it’s shown in the text books! Anyway I’ve certainly learned a few things along the way on how to develop an effective (or non effective) process so I hope you’ll allow me to share them with you.

  1. Make the business case clear – don’t assume that all staff share your enthusiasm for the subject, or that managers have unlimited time to spare. Think about what’s in it for different stakeholders – for example emphasise the development aspects for staff.
  2. Make the roles and responsibilities clear – performance management is often seen as another HR process. It isn’t and it shouldn’t be. It’s a vital business process to align organisation to individual performance. Employees, managers and senior managers all have their part to play.
  3. Keep it as simple as you can – some people want to measure everything –technical competencies, core competencies, objectives, day job etc with weightings and formulae. That confuses everyone.
  4. It’s a change process , not a technical project – expect resistance and anxiety – rating someone’s performance is sensitive and people need to feel they are going to treated fairly...
  5. It won’t work perfectly in year 1 – getting performance management right is like painting the famous Scottish bridge – continuous improvement is more realistic than short term perfection. 
  6. Let managers manage – the more we use forced ranking, formulaic assessment and the like, the less empowered managers become to make an assessment. Some discretion, with suitable consistency checking, is a good thing.
  7. Technology can help – especially in tracking compliance and reducing the paperwork – but it doesn’t mean the quality of the appraisal discussion is necessarily better, of course.
  8. Provide consequences for non compliance – it’s amazing how objectives suddenly get signed off quickly if you say bonuses will be reduced for late submission...
  9. 3, 4 or 5 ratings – it doesn’t matter that much – people spend more time discussing rating scales than whether the performance dialogue is effective. There are pluses and minuses with all rating scales, and they are a necessary evil in many ways.
  10. Fairness (or perceived fairness) is important – human nature is that some managers will assess more harshly or generously than others. A well run calibration process can help.

That’s my tips so far – if others have more to add I’d be glad to hear from you.

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  • Anonymous

    Many thanks for sharing your lessons learnt and tips. Very useful as we are in the process of revising performance management in our organisation and implement it 20 countries over the coming years.

  • Mr. Mark Goodlake,

    Thanks for providing us with this important information you have implemented in your various institution. This tips will help us to enhance our performance management process effective as we are introducing the system in our institution.


    Mr. Babucarr Cham

  • Anonymous

    Excellent Report.Kindly provide me with similar ones on relation between MIS & PMS

  • Anonymous

    Admirable approaches because these will provide facilities of rapid transformation from a dedicated professional into a highly productive manager and influential leader which provide optimal performance.