Time is ripe for HR to measure performance

Despite its perpetual fascination with all types of new fads, HR has never
seized the opportunities it has had to reinvent itself. We could have done so
some years ago and made the total quality revolution our own. Business process
re-engineering came and went with the HR function hardly noticing.

As a result, most employers never achieved all the benefits these
methodologies had to offer, because they failed to harness the talents of their
staff. HR could have championed these initiatives but its own contribution was
often following rather than leading. There is mounting evidence that HR is
failing to achieve influence at the boardroom table. We wonder why.

Now another excellent opportunity presents itself – performance measurement
and management. "Oh, we’ve been doing that for ages," say the
appraisal specialists, the 360-degree feedback aficionados and the competency
brigade, all of whom believe they have something to contribute. The one factor
that lets them down, however, is their inability to offer really meaningful
performance measures.

The theory of competence says that competence equals performance, but rarely
does anyone try to make the connection because they get bogged down in
definition and analysis, while the pretty histograms produced by 360-degree
software appear to measure everything except business performance.

HR is well known for its resistance to, and lack of capability in,
measurement. Yet everything it does should have an impact on measurable
performance improvement. We try to recruit good performers, we train staff to
perform better, we want to reward and recognise superior performance and we
have to deal with underperformance. So a function whose raison d’être is
maximising employee performance should not only be good at performance
measures, it should be the experts.

This is a fantastic chance for HR because every other function has failed to
deliver the goods in performance measurement. The accountants have finally
acknowledged that their measurement systems are historic and do not address the
broader issues of human capital and the knowledge worker.

The operations and sales directors can no longer infer that the only
measures which count are theirs. Performance measurement is at the top of the
agenda and HR has the biggest opportunity ever to position itself accordingly.
Are you ready to seize this opportunity?

• If you are up to Paul’s challenge we would like to hear from you at personnel.today@rbi.co.uk

His book, Measuring and managing employee performance – A practical manual
to maximise organisational performance through people, is available from www.business-minds.com

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