Who’s in Charge? Rethinking Performance Management Roles

Oct 2, 2023 | Best Practice

HR professional responsible for performance management

How has Performance Management Responsibility?

Who holds the reins when it comes to performance management in your organisation? Traditionally, it’s the Human Resources (HR) department. They ensure that performance appraisals are conducted on time, feedback is delivered, and improvements are tracked. But is this the most effective performance management system?

Managers, the individuals working closely with team members, might be better positioned for this responsibility. They interact daily with their teams, understanding their strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement.

Could a balanced hybrid approach offer a more dynamic solution? In this exploration, we delve into the shifting landscape of performance management responsibility. We aim to unearth how different models could drive organisational success, improve employee performance, and foster a robust performance management cycle.


The Traditional Role of HR in Performance Management

Historically, HR has been the cornerstone of the performance management process. They set up appraisal schedules, design feedback frameworks, and ensure compliance with organisational policies.This centralised approach brings consistency. It adheres to standards, creating a structured environment. Performance metrics are clear and uniformly applied. However, it may also distance managers and employees from owning the process. It sometimes reduces the timely feedback crucial for immediate performance adjustments. The bureaucracy can slow down adaptability. It may not always capture the nuanced understanding managers have of their team’s day-to-day performance. Moreover, the planning stage of the performance management cycle often becomes a checkbox activity, rather than a meaningful discussion between line managers and team members.

HR becomes the gatekeepers of the process, chasing all employees to take the necessary actions. This often results in managers feeling less responsible for ensuring the completion of the process.



Shifting the Responsibility to Managers

Transitioning the responsibility of performance management to managers can foster a more direct, responsive feedback loop. Managers interact closely with team members daily. They are often better positioned to provide real-time feedback. They can address performance issues promptly. This decentralisation empowers managers to take ownership of their team’s progress. It aligns performance goals with daily operations.

However, this approach might face challenges. Maintaining consistency across different teams can be difficult. It requires managers to be well-versed in the performance management process. Additional training and resources might be necessary. The question then arises: is there a middle ground that captures the benefits of both models?

Also, if some managers neglect the process, who picks up the pieces?


Exploring a Hybrid Approach

A hybrid approach could blend the benefits of both HR-led and manager-led performance management. In this model, HR provides the framework, guidelines, and oversight. It ensures consistency and compliance. Managers carry out the day-to-day performance discussions and adjustments. This balance could encourage a culture of continuous feedback. It fosters closer manager-employee relationships. It still maintains a unified performance management standard across the organisation. Transitioning to this model could offer a flexible yet structured way to manage performance. It leverages the strengths of both HR and managerial staff.

With the right tools in place, sharing the responsibility for ensuring process adherence becomes feasible. Given the right sort of reports, managers can ensure that their team (and everyone below them) has followed the process. HR are then freer to concentrate their efforts on managers.


Considerations for Implementation

When contemplating a shift in performance management responsibility, several factors need consideration. Company size, existing culture, managerial competence, and available resources are pivotal. The right performance management software can play a crucial role in facilitating this transition. It ensures that both HR and managers have the tools they need to succeed. Evaluating the current state of your performance management process is the first step. Identifying areas for improvement towards a more effective and efficient system is crucial.



Navigating the realm of performance management responsibility requires a thoughtful approach. Whether leaning towards an HR-led, manager-led, or a balanced hybrid model, the key is fostering a culture of continuous improvement. It’s about encouraging transparency and constructive feedback. Tailoring the process to align with your organisational dynamics is essential. Utilising effective tools like PerformanceHub can significantly enhance the performance management experience for everyone involved.

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