Performance Management: Creating A Holistic Understanding

A collaboration between Karlien Kruger: HR practitioner and Mpumelelo Mthembu: Research practitioner 

The challenge with human resource performance management systems is that performance is an outcome of various factors and inputs. The question is whether an organisation’s measurement program takes as many of these factors and inputs into consideration.


Beyond identifying contributors to performance there is also a need to understand the nature of each input and factor in relation to performance. Some factors have a direct impact on performance and others an indirect one. Moreover, how do the inputs and factors affect each other? Is the net effect of the interaction between these inputs and factors optimal performance? Just from these questions it becomes obvious that a performance measurement system is very intricate.    

The questions noted above also speak to the linkages and how they impact performance. In an organisational context, linkage is a structural phenomenon referring to the joining together of two or more objects. These linkages must be understood.   


In their book, Organizational Linkages: The Productivity Paradox, the National Research Council in Washington DC discuss these different types of linkages.  The book also closely examines inter-role linkages, intra-role linkages and the complexity of such linkages and what its impact is on organisations.


Interrole linkages refer to connections among roles. The connections could be between roles within a group, between groups, between organizational units, or between people and machines. These linkages contribute to understanding and tracing how roles affect each other with regards to performance. Interrole linkages can highlight activities outside the employee’s control that affect their performance. 


Intrarole linkages are defined as linkages within any role and its subtasks. It is possible that productivity increases in some subtasks may not affect (be linked with) the performance of other subtasks within that role.


Linkages can also vary in terms of complexity, that is, the number of links in any organizational context. The more linkages in an organization, the more complex the environment for tracing impact on performance. The degree of interdependence in a linkage condition also varies. One can conceptualize an organizational system in which all the objects are highly interdependent versus one in which objects are more loosely coupled.


A role of an employee in any organisation is complex and their performance too multidetermined. Paying close attention to all the factors and inputs contributes to building a comprehensive, effective, and fair performance management system.  Especially, where performance measurement outcomes are used both as an input and an output to business change.

As research and HR practitioners we can partner with you in building a comprehensive people performance measurement system.    

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