How Is HR crippled due to lack of authority when it comes to making performance management contribute to the bottom line

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From Performance Management 2/E (Briefcase Books Series)Performance Management - A Briefcase Book

While HR departments are expected to create, manage, and implement performance appraisal systems, they lack the authority to do so properly. In a standard, hierarchically structured organization, the CEO has V.P.'s that report to her, who in turn have divisional chiefs reporting to them. The authority line cascades down until you hit the lowest supervisory levels.

Power and authority come through that “command structure”, like it or not. But notice who is missing? The HR department. The HR department is not in the “chain of command”. It can neither reward managers who do performance management properly; neither can it “force” managers to do much of anything. The only power it can garner is through the line authority of the executive. HR cannot fight it's own battles, but must influence others to fight those same battles.

The result is that HR departments end up in enforcement roles without any authority to enforce. So, they “nag”, or they give up on making performance management and appraisal work.

My experience dealing with hundreds of HR staff is that the majority are dedicated, smart, and want to make a difference. It's not that the individuals in HR are problematic, but that they work within a system that frustrates them as much as it frustrates managers and employees. Except that managers and employees see the HR department as not doing their jobs to get things to work. That's because HR is the visible and obvious entity to blame for rigid schedules, stupid and useless forms, and procedures that are so complex that nobody understands the point. That's not to say HR people are blameless. It's just that they don't deserve all the blame aimed at them by the rest of the organization.


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Bacal & Associates was founded in 1992 by consultant and book author, Robert Bacal. Robert's books on performance management and reviews have been published by McGraw-Hill. He is available for consultation, training and keynote speaking on performance and management at work.


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  • Performance management and appraisal MUST be a partnership between manager and employee where BOTH benefit.
  • Performance management can be the lever for improved employee engagement.
  • The review process is the LEAST important part of performance management
  • If managers aren't managing employee performance, why are they there?

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