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Performance Management & Core competencies
Human Resources » Performance Management

Chrm Message From: sakshi123 Total Posts: 18 Join Date: 14/03/2007
Rank: Executive Post Date: 22/09/2008 22:56:38 Points: 90 Location: United States

Performance management systems and processes are an evolving area within the more general context of Human Resource Management. Developments in organizational structure and culture over the previous ten to fifteen years have provoked a shift in emphasis away from traditional performance appraisal techniques towards a more profound use of performance management systems (Bowen and Lawler, 1992). This shift in emphasis has occurred as organizations have become more proficient with techniques such as, team building, empowerment, benchmarking and other quality management tools.

Performance management systems are typically based on personal competencies that distinguish high from average performance for successful managers. These personal competencies are derived from the values and core competencies of the organization (Reagan, 1994). Increasingly, organizations that use core competency based systems are referred to as visionary or high performance organizations (Collins and Porras, 1996).

In a recent meeting of the Dean’s Advisory Board of the Oswego State University School of Business an informal discussion took place among the board members where the focus of the discussion was the degree of use of personal competencies by the companies represented on the board. This discussion lead to the literature review in support of this paper and to the eventual idea for the pilot study that is being reported. The Board discussion basically set the focus for this current work by crafting the question: "How broadly are personal competencies used by high performance organizations and can a basic set of personal competencies be defined?". Personal competencies, as referred to by the Board, are similar in nature to those described in the previous two paragraphs.

Competencies at the "Core" of it!! It has been argued, with sound justification, that to remain competitive in today’s global business environment, an economic return must be realized from an investment in training of an organization’s human resources (Robinson & Robinson, 1995) or as stated elsewhere its "human capital" (Schultz, 1971). It is not an overstatement to suggest that that resource, as manifested through enhanced competencies, is a sine qua non of the successful company -- of the "visionary" company (Collins & Porras, 1997). Those competencies have been defined elsewhere (Englemann & Roesch, 1996) as essentially job specifications; namely, knowledge, skills and abilities that individuals should possess if they are to succeed, and lend their success to the organization. These same researchers list personal competencies as: Teamwork, Achievement Orientation, Customer Service Orientation, Relationship Building, Analytical Thinking and Developing Others (the reader may note the similarities between these personal competencies and the ones listed elsewhere in this paper (Bartlett & Ghoshall, 1997 and Herberger, 1998). Such groupings of factors have been advocated and refined by others (Reagan, 1994 and Klein, 1996) by stating that competencies "are presented as models or groups of behaviors that represent excellence in a particular work context . . . Many organizations utilizing competencybased human resource systems are trying to drive excellence-not average-performance."

(Our emphasis.) It should be clear that competency-based human resource systems are inherently valuable in any well designed staff training and development program (Morgan, 1997) and can also be considered as a "yardstick" for monitoring and evaluating individual/organizational performance and improving their/its competitiveness (Antonacopoulou & FitzGerald, 1996)

It is perhaps self-evident that performance, individual and organizational, must out of
necessity respond and adapt quickly to change (Prahalad & Hamel, 1990; Childress & Senn, 1995; and Nadler & Tushman, 1980). Responsiveness to change is one of the aspects that would tend to differentiate conventional from quality-oriented humanresource management practices (Bowen & Lawler, 1992). These quality oriented efforts are uniquely positioned to identify and develop the competencies that will inherently determine an organization’s competitive posture (Cappelli & Crocker-Hefter, 1996). One such effort would be in utilizing a process appraisal that "places emphasis on the success factors that produce superior performance" (Eckes, 1994). Our paper focuses on the personal competencies that may be linked to performance management systems; and may be found in established "visionary" organizations. In the final analysis, all organizations are concerned with improveent. Ulrich and Wiersema (1989) in addressing the issue of a performance management system, reinforce the point when they conclude that, "Individual competencies, derived from hiring new employees or developing existing employees, make dramatic differences in organizational capabilities." In today’s global marketplace, organizations will either find the means to undertake continuous improvement through effective performance management systems or jeopardize their competitiveness. They cannot afford to do less.

Lanny A. Karns &
Manuel A. Mena
School of Business
Oswego State University



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