There is no doubt that the users of Performance Management process, as it exists today have several grievances against it ,though it will be incorrect to say that it is complete failure on part of HR function only.

As per various reports ,disenchantments to the PM process has been on the grounds of purported deficiencies in its objectivity, openness , fairness , feed back e.t.c

Let us try to examine each of the areas separately.

Objectivity : To my understanding ,objectivity of PM process depends primarily on identifying & defining the KPA’s & KRA/Goals as clearly as possible . There is also a need to articulate the targets very well which requires a considerable amount of imagination . The problem initiates in this area, especially with those Goals which cannot be numerically/mathematically expressed. The solution lies possibly of expert help initially & building up targets over a period of time . I say building up because ,75% to 85% of the jobs in any organization is generally routine & repeats for several years.

Unfortunately what we tend to find in most organization is to somehow fill up some forms & complete the prescribed paperwork, that too mostly at the end of the year , instead of correctly working out the targets.

The next problem in this area is identification of agreed KPI’s & Measures , which is also an extremely imaginative area & requires careful articulation . To give you an example , in most organizations “employee engagement “ an important KPA for HR department have generally “employee attrition” its KPI. Can HR be made one hundred percent responsible for attritions happening all over the company ? In almost all organizations, this is generally not a choice for HR .

Feedback & Fairness : A standard PM system has “ feed back “ as part of the process , where an appraiser is supposed to discuss & inform the appraise about the deficiencies & lacunas in his/ her performance vis-aviz decided agreed targets . This becomes a tricky area because of a lot of subjectivity involved in assessment. If the KRA’s are very SMART & measures are specific & pointed , the scope of disparities is substantially reduced .

Besides the above a lot of grievance on the ground of fairness arises because of integrity issues on part of the appraiser ,trust deficit between the Appraiser & the appraise , which are but a purely leadership issues . There also are issues of a few belligerent & stubborn appraise. To my understanding it is almost impossible for PM as a process , to address these issues ,which are related to human emotion.

The famous Microsoft imbroglio with PM process being practiced there , which made headlines in Forbes , was because of the practice of “forced rating”( based on bell Curve ) . It is a matter of choice for any organization to accept or reject the “the forced rating part of the process .

I think another serious grievance with PM process is something not really related to the PM process , but to the subsequent usage of the outcomes of PM process to disburse annual rewards/ increments . Wide differences in financial(& promotional) rewards between exemplary/average / underperformers leads to dissatisfaction . The dissatisfied lot blame the PM process , which is actually incorrect.

From India, Delhi
Dinesh Divekar
Business Mentor, Consultant And Trainer
Senior Hr Advisor
+1 Other

Dinesh Divekar

Dear Sudipto,

Through your heading of the post "Is the existing Performance Management Process a failure & a blot on HR Function" you have made a big sweeping statement. While HR professionals have their own set of problems, painting all with the same brush would not be fair.

The bane of HR professional lies in getting entangled in jargon. Just two days ago, I met HR Director of one service company. He gloated over his certificates, and the systems and process. Nevertheless, in more than half hour interaction with him, he never mentioned the results accrued from these HR interventions. Basic malaise lies in missing wood of results in the jargon of trees. The training company through whom I had got this assignment had told to keep this HR Director in good humour. Since these are the very people who give us business, I kept on appreciating him though, my appreciations were false ones.

Coming to PMS. The trouble with the KPIs is that these are not designed to measure the various costs associated with their business. Superficial measures give superficial results. How many HR are capable to measure the inventory carrying cost or cost of lost capacity?

Coming to your post. Have you done any survey on PMS? If yes, then what was the sample size? Which industries did you choose? Was any variation came out amongst the industries? Your post does not mention any numbers, either of your own study or someone else's. Talking without number is malaise of HR. Are you also affected by this malaise?

If you have not conducted any survey then should it be assumed that your post is nothing but your perceptions or the arguments made are visceral?

My second observation is that you have used concepts of Performance Appraisal (PA) for Performance Management Process. It would be mistake to do that. PA is subset of PMS, one cannot forget this.

I have been giving my replies on PMS time and again. If you have not seen then I recommend you going through the following link:

You will get few more links in the above link. You may go through these if you deem fit.


Dinesh Divekar

From India, Bangalore
Indeed the debate about Performance Management is a lively one and probably will be ongoing for some time. There are many challenges in this process for any people manager: you need a lot of leadership skills to make performance management a motivational experience for both parties, employee and employer. In the end we may not forget the original intent of such a program = aligning the company strategy and culture with everyone's efforts and behaviors and then connect this with rewarding and recognition to enhance employee engagement. Quite the challenge!!!! And definitely far more a strategic exercise rather than filling in a form annually.

I would like to share here a previous newsletter that summarizes a couple of lessons learnt from many Performance Management implementation projects we did in the past. Hopefully it reassures everyone who is already struggling with this key HR process!

Feel free to ask questions!

Good luck,

Kind regards,

Anne Van de Catsye - Senior HR Advisor EMEA

Essential Toolkits for HR

From Belgium, Zele

Attached Files (Download Requires Membership)
File Type: pdf HRM Toolshop - HR Focus on Target Setting - Q1 2014.pdf (332.1 KB, 304 views)

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