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What’s Changed in HR? And What Can Change?

A HR software provider recently demonstrated their product to me. On their opening slide was the statement that “95% of HR leaders are unhappy with traditional performance management”.

Yet their product looked like what I used in the 1990s, except with a modern user interface.

I.e. their performance management module was designed for employees and managers to capture personal goals, KPI’s, and development plans across quarterly, mid-year and final (annual) reviews using a 5-point rating scale from ‘below expectation’ to ‘outstanding’.

Not much has changed.

I don’t blame the software provider as they were delivering a product the customer was asking for.

The problem lies with our profession, the HR Practitioners. The traditional performance management approach the 95% are unhappy with, is based on the work of Frederick Taylor in the early 1900’s. He was helping unskilled labourers improve productive to increase their wages without increasing injuries or risk to them.

I argue our workforce has changed.

In response HR needs to change. I suggest we clarify what the aim of a modern Performance Management process should be.

For me, a performance management process is two things. Feedback (how well the person is currently doing in their job) and Continuous Improvement (how can we work together to do even better).

Then I keep the process simple by:

1. Replacing HR Policies, procedures, checklists, templates and forms with an App requiring just one click from a limited choice of predefined options.

2. Using software to take care of the admin, record keeping and reporting

The software provider concluded their presentation by indicating “poor internal processes may be letting good talent slip through the cracks” and “you need to stay on top of compliance, regulations and laws.”

While I agree that these two valid goals are important, I’d argue they can only be achieved once we have clarify the aims of performance management and then simplified the process.

Let’s aim to have 95% of HR leaders being happy with performance management.

It’s achievable. You just have to take the first step.

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