In the
organizational context, performance management is a systematic evaluation of
personnel by supervisors or others familiar with their performance (L.M.
Prasad). Armstrong (2006) described the role of performance management as a
tool for gauging what needs to be done by people in an organization for it to
achieve the purpose of the job to meet new challenges. According to Beach
(1980), performance is a systematic evaluation of the individual with regard to
his/her performance on the job and his potential for development.

A CIPD
performance management survey showed that in the UK while there has been
broadening in purpose and the linking of some of these different processes designed
to impacts on performance, the main purpose of performance management process
largely still revolves around personal objectives setting and appraisal against
objectives. This is included in the process in 90% of cases (CIPD, 2005). Trends
that have continued since the CIPD’s previous survey (in 1997) showed that
there is increasingly focus on the development aspect of appraisal, and also
development of control and operation of the process from human resource to line
managers (CIPD, 2005).

Baron (2004)
claims that, the focus of performance management is on various elements. They include;
recognition, constructive feedback, personal development and career opportunities.
However, there will always be an inevitable tension within career management
which has to satisfy both the interests of the employee and those of the
organization. Individuals may demand a career where there is scope for development
and progression, while organization will need to ensure they have the right
people on the right jobs and are building a talent pool for the future (CIPD,
2003).

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Performance
management is been taken up seriously by organizations. According to Armstrong (1999),
there are four normative concerns of performance management. These are; to
improve performance, develop employees, meet expectations of stakeholders,
improve communication and employee involvement.

A growing body of research suggests that, for performance
management to be effective and beneficial, it needs to be owned and driven by
the front line management (Williams, 2002 Sparrow and Hiltrop, 1994 Torrington
et al, 2008). Therefore, the role of capable and committed line manager is
critical to successful performance management (Purcell & Hutchinson, 2003
Purcell et al, 2007). Performance management is not merely the appraisal of
employee performance (Armstrong & Baron, 2007).

However, evidence is not
universally encouraging, and some scholars argue that in its present
arrangement performance management can be criticized for being excessively normative
(McDonnell & Gunnigle, 2009). This is mainly because of its unitary
ideology. The unitary ideology may represent one of the threats to performance
management as it fails to recognize the plurality of interests that are so much
a part of organizational reality (Williams, 2002). There is insufficient theory
available that supports performance management (Buchner, 2007). Williams (2002)
contends that confusion still exists over the nature of performance management.
Similarly, the main concern is the lack of integration of activities that some
that activities are exploited and while others are not (Bevan & Thompson:
1992). The main issue is that some organizations do not understand whether
their HR practices are actually aligned or pulling in discrete direction
(Torrington et al, 2008).

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