It is not a secret that HR plays an important role in the success of any organization, as better organizational performance translates to more profit. It is for this very reason that employee managers have tried different ways to push the capabilities of their human resources.
Today, we are going to look at some of the earliest performance management tactics and how they evolved over the last few decades.
How HRM evolved from personnel management
The post-World War II era saw several scholars taking it upon themselves to study the people at their places of work. These studies would enable managers to understand the best approaches and practices that derive the required performance and productivity levels from their workers.
Thus, came personnel management. This style of managing employees, however, needed to evolve over time, as it only considered workers as a means to an end. Nonetheless, more research was carried out that led to the specialization of the management functions that had been developed.
Contrary to the assumption that the whole idea of personnel management was bad and unproductive, some of the invented performance management tactics are still used today, just in a different form.
Tactics that we still use today
The following are some of the performance management tactics that are still important to organizational success today.
1. Career development
Management in the 20th Century emphasized the development of employee skills and competencies for their benefit, which would, in turn, boost organizational performance. Similarly, today’s strategic management advocates for enhancing individual skills and competencies to give organizations a competitive edge over others through their employees.
More significance has been placed on training and development, which not only pays attention to improving employees’ desired skills but also changing their behavior and attitude to suit their career as well. Additionally, more managers advocate for innovativeness and creativity in their employees, which is essential for any organization to perform
2. Compensation management
The industrial revolution brought about new ways to manage employees and enhance productivity and effectiveness. Fredrick Taylor, through his theory on scientific management, believed that most employees were motivated to work by money.
Equivalently, in this age, many companies do invest a great deal on competitive compensation schemes to retain talent and promote employee productivity. With the introduction of human resource management, wages and salary administration has become a bit more specialized, with the commencement of performance and competence-based pay systems and pay structures.
Strategic management has also brought in profit sharing with employees, which makes employees part and parcel of the organization’s success or downfall. This new twist to compensation has enhanced compensation management and is considered as an essential performance management tool.
3. Good working conditions
With the end of the Great Depression in the 20th Century, came new laws that seek to ensure that employees get proper working conditions as well as the necessary equipment to perform their duties.
Today, actual tools are often replaced with different software solutions (for many “office-based” businesses), but the idea stays the same – provide your workers with a safe working environment and give them the tools they need to efficiently perform given tasks.
To take this even further, modern HR managers can use tools like smart employee scheduling solutions to ensure fair and balanced work composition.
4. Employee reward programs
Frederick Herzberg once said that the most ideal source of motivation comes from recognition, job satisfaction, personal development and achievement. The Industrial Revolution also came with the development of recognition programs for workers based on the research studies on positive reinforcement by B. F. Skinner. These programs emphasized the idea that hard work and commitment should be recognized and rewarded.
Today, companies develop different total reward systems to identify employees based on their achievements and tenure. Although this tactic wasn’t very popular with the personnel managers, it has become an essential tool in managing employee performance and productivity. For human resource management, motivating employees has taken the form of job enrichment, offering free vacations, team-based social activities on behalf of the company, benefits, profits and so on, aside from money-related incentives.
5. Conflict management/resolution
Even back then, it was the personnel manager’s duty to sort out conflicts whenever employees had problems among themselves or with management. Hence this has become an important part of employee management strategy today that minimizes labor turn over and potential lawsuits against organizations.
In the past, personnel managers were tasked with dealing with matters concerning trade unions. They were also required to find solutions to organizational disputes employing collective bargaining, among other various industrial relations techniques.
Similarly, human resource managers have the same duties as their predecessors, focusing more on leading the employees rather than being managers. This tactic has become necessary to many companies when it comes to managing conflict and disputes, which can be an immense hindrance to their performance.
6. Promoting employee welfare
Among the laws provided during the evolution of management in the 20th Century were those improving employee welfare.
Personnel managers promoted the welfare of their employees by considering welfare-related measures like providing medical covers, insurance covers, accommodation facilities and so on. This strategy has been useful to date as it promotes employee commitment and gives them a sense of belonging. As a result, employees are obligated to perform better and meet or surpass the companies’ targets.
On top of everything mentioned, top companies today also offer programs that support work-life balance for the employees, such as flexible working hours and employee assistance programs. These programs, among other workforce management needs, go a long way in ensuring employee commitment and organizational success.
While the motives to improve employee performance are still tied to an organization’s bottom line, the focus on the satisfaction of the employee with his job and working conditions make modern performance management tactics much more “user-friendly” than they were in the last century, to the benefit of everyone involved.