Performance management

Performance management never seems to be right. Organisations find that they can't get appraisals done or that managers give too little time or attention to managing their staff's performance.

Some major employers are removing rating systems altogether, while others are strengthening the link between performance and pay.

When helping employers improve performance management systems we look beyond standardised, universally applicable 'best-practice' models. We identify not only what will meet the needs of the organisation but also what will be relevant and useful to staff and managers alike.

Find out more below about our work on performance management and how our expertise can help your organisation.

Contact: Duncan Brown

Our work in this area

Performance management strategy

One specific difficulty is that HR tries to cram too much into a performance appraisal without sufficient attention to the purpose of the exercise and ends up trying to do too much (improve performance, clarify objectives, develop people, set pay, consider career development etc). So, at IES, we like to start with the strategic questions about what will best improve individual and organisational performance.

We help organisations think these questions through using research evidence from other employers, organisational performance data, and management and employee discussions where appropriate.

Our work in this area

Evaluation of performance management processes

Evaluating the effectiveness of performance management programmes is all too rare. Organisations are often poor at specifying their goals, gathering information to see whether these goals are being met or working out what might be done to improve things.

So we explore not just compliance data (proportion of performance appraisals completed) but add value to understanding through looking at factors such as user satisfaction with the process, bias in assessment, measures of performance improvement, etc.

We give a rounded picture of performance management pluses and minuses with concrete ideas for improvement.

Our work in this area

Design of performance management

Performance management is often misunderstood, over-engineered and poorly implemented. This can deaden enthusiasm and reduce performance rather than enhancing it. We adopt a fresh look at how it can help align people, with all their strengths and weaknesses, behind a purpose, and support them to act with clarity, passion and hard work.

We design:

  • new competency or values-based frameworks;
  • performance feedback mechanisms (eg 360 degree feedback); and
  • new performance appraisal systems.

We also look at how performance can be (re)connected to reward through base or variable pay systems.

Our work in this area


IES experts

Peter Reilly Duncan Brown Professor Stephen Bevan

Peter Reilly
Principal Associate

Duncan Brown
Head of HR Consultancy

Stephen Bevan
Director, Employer Research and Consultancy

Related projects

Independent Review of the NHS Knowledge and Skills Framework
NHS Employers

Getting the most out of human resource management: How can HR practices lead to better employee performance and wellbeing?
University of Brighton

Blended Human Resource Management MSc programme