Workers See Room For Performance Management Improvement

April 19, 2004 ( - Most workers feel as though their performance management system gave them a fair shake, but few believe it helps improve performance.

More than six out of 10 (61%) U.S. workers either agreed or strongly agreed that their company’s performance management accurately evaluated their performance. Further, more than half (54%) said their organization’s current system rewards better-reviewed employees with better raises and bonuses, according to a survey of 1,190 U.S. workers conducted by human capital consulting firm Watson Wyatt.

The system though is far from perfect as only three out of 10 U.S. workers agree that their company’s performance management program actually does what it’s intended to do – improve performance – a nd fewer than two out of 10 (19%) said the program helps poor performers improve. This may be due to a disconnect in the review process and the performance management system as only 35% agreed or strongly agreed that the current program establishes clear performance goals for the current year and only 26% said their firm’s program does a good job of providing honest feedback.

“The survey results clearly indicate that corporate America’s performance management systems need fixing,” said Scott Cohen, national director for talent management at Watson Wyatt. “Unfortunately, too many organizations view their performance management programs as ‘organizational wallpaper.’ They exist in the background and aren’t expected to add value.”

To provide more “value added” to the system, Cohen advises managers and leaders to:

  • Get rid of the HR-speak and make sure the performance management processes use the language of the business.
  • Make the tough decisions. Recognize star performers and confront poor performers as soon as possible but no later than their next formal review.
  • Burn paper forms. User-friendly automation is better, faster and cheaper.

“A company’s success is contingent on the success of its employees,” said Cohen. “In the end, the companies that make the needed changes to their performance management process will generate significant competitive advantages and create more value for shareholders.”