The posting below is a look at some industry management practices that can have application in academia as well. It is by Sean Conrad, a senior product analyst at Halogen Software http://www.halogensoftware.com/ and is reprinted with permission.
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Why Performance Management Should Matter in Academia
Performance management processes and practices are often viewed as ineffective or not applicable in higher learning institutions, because they typically center on the employee performance appraisal. But the
performance appraisal is only one small part of good performance management. In addition to performance appraisals, good performance management should also include goal management, competency development, peer reviews, development planning, and talent profiles. In academic circles, it's often these other components that offer the greatest value.
Effective Goal Management
Goal management goes beyond simply setting goals. It involves setting appropriate goals that are SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound), linking individual goals to higher level departmental or institutional goals, regularly monitoring progress, and evaluating results. Effective goal management gives every staff member a larger context for their goals, so they can see how their work contributes to and fits in with the larger organization. It helps them see "linkages" between their work, the work of others and the mission, vision and strategy of their department and institution. Effective goal management also requires ensuring that staff members have the resources/tools/support they need to accomplish their goals. Regular monitoring or tracking of progress on goals is important for ensuring success at all levels. It should involve communication on status up and down the reporting chain so that progress and success can be monitored and supported. Fina
lly, there needs to be some evaluation and discussion of the accomplishment of goals. This evaluation and discussion is critical for the ongoing learning and development of staff and should feed into development planning activities.
Cultivating the Competencies Needed for Success
Effective competency management requires the identification of competencies vital to success at the individual and departmental or institutional level. It should also include identification of the competencies necessary for effective leadership. Evaluating a staff member's demonstration of competencies key to their role, and assigning development plans as appropriate to cultivate further mastery is vital to their success, as well as to the success of the organization. Competency management also allows a department or the
institution overall to gain insight into their organizational strengths and areas for development and allows them to take action to ensure alignment with mission, vision, values and strategy. Finally, competency assessments are an important tool for identifying high-performing, high-potential staff members and grooming them for advancement.
Peer reviews or 360 assessments can be an important way to give a staff member feedback on their performance that is broader and more objective. Whether you solicit and use the feedback for leadership
development or for performance management, it can be a useful tool for guiding staff performance and development. 360 assessments can focus purely on the demonstration of competencies, or can include
performance of both competencies and goals.
Integrated Development Planning
Development planning is most effective when it takes into consideration the staff member's performance, their strengths, any performance gaps and their career aspirations, as well as organizational goals and priorities. When linked to performance in this way, investments in staff development tend to yield better, more tangible results. Development planning should do more than simply address skill gaps or deficiencies; it should focus on broadening and/or deepening the person's skills and experience and preparing them for career progression, as well as developing the competencies, skills and experience vital to the larger organization. These linkages are easy to make if your learning management system integrates with your performance management tool.
Employee Talent Profiles
Maintaining up-to-date profiles on each staff member can be an important element of performance management. Having easy access to a secure, searchable database of up-to-date employee talent profiles that include relevant data can be powerful tool for an academic institution. Being able to capture things like certifications, research expertise or focus, languages spoken, specialized skills/experience, conference attendance/participation, and more can help in a variety of ways and encourage collaboration and better
Tools to Support Performance Management
A variety of software applications exist today that support the automation of these important performance management tasks. Many are web-based, and some vendors, like Halogen Software, offer product versions that are specifically designed to address the specialized needs of educational institutions, by offering process and employee evaluation form flexibility, and libraries of competencies and forms targeted to academia.