1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Every organisation is judged by its performance. For more than a decade, organisational environments have experienced radical changes. As a result of greater competition in the global marketplace, the majority of organisations have greatly streamlined their operations (Collis and Montgomery, 1995). Every moment presents a diverse set of challenges and obstacles: laws and regulations are evolving, the economy is altering, and most importantly, no one is aware of what problems or obstacles will arise. Other environmental factors, both external and internal are there for organisations to grapple with. To remain competitive in such an environment, an organisation needs to get the most out of its assets, especially the human assets. To achieve this, proper management of the performance of an organisation’s resources have to be given serious attention.
Effective management of people within an organisation has over the years become a business imperative. The collective focus and effort towards achieving desired goals, and the ability to deliver and manage effectively, is necessary to drive business results on an ongoing basis. Employees play a vital role in organisational success. Their performance has been shown to have a significant positive effect on organisational performance (Collis and Montgomery, 1995). One of the major pitfalls in an organisation occurs when managers believe their organisations are constantly operating at the highest level of efficiency, or that they do not require input from their employees (Foot and Hook, 1999).
The principal influence on organisation’s performance is the quality of the workforce at all levels of the organisation. The function that human resources can play in gaining a competitive advantage for an organisation is empirically well documented (Brewster et al, 2003). For organisations to accomplish their goals, they must continually look for better ways to organise and manage their work. There is a growing recognition that the primary source of competitive advantage is derived from organisation’s human resources. This was not always the case, as human resources were traditionally seen as a cost (Brewster, et al., 2003).
Due to the realisation that people are the most valuable assets in an organisation, the importance of proper management has been pushed to the fore (Bartlett and Ghoshal, 1995). The complexity of managing organisations today requires managers to view performance in several areas simultaneously.
Managing performance is an integral part of effective human resource management and development strategy. It is an ongoing and joint process where the employee, with the assistance of the employer, “strives to improve the employee’s individual performance and his contributions to the organisation’s wider objectives” (Hellriegel et al, 2004:135).
A successful management system is one that requires full participation between employees and managers through effective communication and goal agreement, resulting in complete common understanding and not unfounded expectations (Cambell et al, 1993). A well-executed management system is a medium for managers and employees to develop an understanding of what tasks the mission of the organisation requires, the manner in which these tasks should be accomplished, and to what extent it has been achieved. Employees should be empowered and receive support from their manager without removing any of the employee’s responsibility (Armstrong and Baron, 1998).
Management helps to link together individual goals, departmental purposes and organisational objectives is known to incorporate issues that are central to many other elements of human resource management such as appraisal, and employee development, performance-related pay and reward management, and individualism and employee relations. Indeed it has been argued that performance management is synonymous with the totality of day to day management activity because it is concerned with how work can be organised in order to achieve the best possible results in an organisation. Management is concerned with performance improvement in order to achieve organisational, team and individual effectiveness. Organisations, as stated by Lawson (1995:205), have ‘to get the right things done successfully’.
It can be seen that the individual’s performance has an impact on the organisation’s wider objectives, and it is thus imperative that every organisation should be properly managed. Given this background, it is therefore necessary to investigate how to manage performance as a means of achieving organisational objectives.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM