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Sriidhar (Consultant, India) July 2006

Dear Mubeena,
I was directed to your site on the internet. What I explored is a great mind and accomplishments. I am into the KM consulting and often wonder on one question. Cannot we do away with performance appraisal systems in organizations? Have everyone (appraisee and appraiser) understand the underlining philosophy of human measurement system? Please enlighten on this.
Sriidhar (Consultant, India)

Hi Sriidhar, thank you for an interesting question. Although the intention to do away with PA systems is to imbibe each employee with its principles through the organization’s culture itself, I don’t think doing away with it is a solution. I believe this system should be immersed into the organization’s culture, because the performance of employees is the most important element of a company’s success and future growth.

A Performance Management system is vital for employees to have a vision for themselves in the company, they will clearly know about what is expected of them at work, and a well-managed process also acts as a grievance procedure for them to voice out issues to their superiors. Another advantage is that if it is a 360-degree process, superiors are also given feedback from their subordinates, which is the hallmark of a transparent, highly involved, and highly evolved organization. An excellent Performance Management System should reinforce the company’s culture and the source of its competitive edge will motivate its high-potential employees to produce excellence at work.

When you suggest that everyone must understand the “underlining philosophy of human measurement”, I cannot stress enough that in all truthfulness, there is no way of knowing any absolute underlining philosophy. Philosophies spring up as a reaction and result of the particular situation, culture, experience, perception, and mindset at hand. As organizations must change to thrive, so must its philosophies. So what is your philosophy of human measurement? I will give you an opposing philosophy that is just as right as yours. The only philosophy that stays constant is ethical responsibility.

Every organization if it must be distinctly unique, will maintain its own philosophy of human measurement. When you talk about “human” measurement you are talking about subjects that are highly variable. Humans are not easily measured, and there will always be facets to human consciousness affecting our performance that will never be pinpointed. That is why I will always believe that the best way of measuring anything is to keep your eyes open, and if you think psychological statistics explains and predicts human behavior accurately, we need to have another conversation.

I think you will agree with me that you might be able to detect small differences with highly sophisticated measurement systems, but do you desire just small differences? You should want to be able to make huge and significant improvements that break and rebuild your bottom-line. So I can agree with the spirit of what you are asking, because often these systems just become processed and robotic. Let your system be flexible, adaptable, and let it be safe for employees by benefiting their career growth and aspirations. Do away with paper-work, but don’t do away with systems.


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