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the global manifesto

for flourishing at work [MVP1.0]

Welcome to a pioneering initiative aimed at reshaping the future of work. This global manifesto on performance management represents a unique collaboration among HR professionals, practitioners, consultants, and academics from across the globe. Together, we've pooled our expertise to create a comprehensive framework of principles and practices to empower HR leaders in transforming their organizations to foster greater purpose, performance, and social value.

Drawing inspiration from the Agile manifesto, the Flourishing manifesto goes beyond methodological suggestions to form the cornerstone of a holistic business change journey and a paradigm shift in how we approach work:

  • Four core beliefs:On the left, our beliefs are rooted in a new management paradigm that prioritizes organizational flourishing. In contrast, the counterparts on the right reflect common traits found in traditional performance management processes.
  • 11 principles:The six principles on the left guide the overarching structure of the performance management process, while the five on the right pertain to specific components within it.
  • Exemplary practices:Page 2 of the manifesto outlines various practices and methods associated with both conventional and new management models. We hope this will help practitioners in transitioning to the new performance management approach.

The manifesto evolves through agile sprints. Following the May presentation, we'll invite extensive input from HR and business leaders, aiming to release the next version (MVP2) by the final quarter of 2024. We welcome your contributions to shaping the evolving manifesto or your partnership in implementing the principles and practices within your organization.

Download the LATEST VERSION of the manifesto by clicking on the image or link. (Be sure to check back for the most recent MVPs.)

Sign up as a SUPPORTER or CONTRIBUTOR for the manifesto! You can leave your feedback and comments in the form to co-create the next MVP! We will keep you informed of all developments.

give us your feedback!


Please send us your insights, comments, critique, questions, ideas! Here you will find a selection of ongoing inputs from the community. In order to provide your feedback please use the SIGN UP button above!

 (Please note that it can take up to 48 hours for new feedback to go live on the site!)

  • The strapline A Manifesto For Flourishing At Work repeats Flourish so might be redundant i.e. if combined with the next line: A manifesto for taking a stand against……………
  • Comment on page one: I had previously suggested something along the line of - Equip your people managers with the skills and confidence to facilitate impactful conversations. I think a key principle needs to cover the critical dynamic between a colleague and his/her team leader, together with how an organisation should/must equip team leaders with the right skills and confidence etc
  • Overall comment is that some of the principles are quite lengthy and combine different constructs/themes, so might be an opportunity to simplify the language and reduce the wordcount on the actual principles – appreciate this is a challenge when combining several different brilliant ideas! What is our yardstick test for a great principle?
  • Principle 1. Good people and social value might not be immediately understandable for the audience, so perhaps each principle needs to pass the ‘Sun Reader’ test as a minimum? Continuous progress could be continuous learning, which removes the hierarchical implication of progress. I really like the notion of to foster the flourishing of every colleague.
  • Principle 3. Bit convoluted this one, as had to read it several times! Perhaps self-directed teams is the essence of this principle?
  • Principle 5. Love this! Suggest delete ‘keep constant’. System could be confused for some with IT………..just saying. Overall, this principle is clear and actionable.
  • Principle 6. Like this, though would take out ‘social value’ as we have not explained this anywhere i.e. could be the ‘how to / elaboration’ that comes down the track when people ask us how to apply the manifesto.
  • Principle 10. Pay and reward is not limited just to transformation. Not sure I agree with stopping bonuses altogether, as surely the point is the basis on which bonuses are awarded i.e. collective endeavours and success?
  • Principle 10. Have re-read and whilst there are some great thoughts in this one, it seems to be several principles packed into one?

  • Not sure the smartest and dumbest language works in the context of flourishing? It could switch the reader off, especially if they have personally advocated for practices on the right! Perhaps practices which are positive / enablers and those practices that hinder / block flourishing?
  • We perhaps need to say something about HR IT systems as being enablers and not an off the shelf design. 
  • Goal setting could imply imposed, so defining/agreeing goals? Like horizontal commitments as this speaks to joined up E2E processes. Could make mention of the customer/client i.e. outcomes that really make a difference? On the negative side thinking about micromanagement, something about excessive KPIs and reporting? Is there also something positive around team-based goals which encourages collaboration and alignment around the common purpose and collective value?
  • Feedback could be changed to Feed forward? Positive practices are self-reflection and review, 360 Feedback for development only, mentoring as well as coaching. Hindering practices: Letting colleagues struggle without in the moment coaching and support. 
  • Appraisal is such a loaded term, so could we think of a different language such as success / flourishing conversations? 
  • Appraisal: Love the on-demand thought, as this addresses the point about not letting new hires/poor performers flounder and drown. Something around learning goals for the individual and or the community as a whole? 
  • Appraisal: Do we need to differentiate between the performance (How am I doing against expectations/standards for the current role) versus potential (where I would like to go next if I can)? This could also include job enrichment practices i.e. the introduction of AI may seem a threat, however, by removing routine administrative work, the job could be redesigned to include higher value more intrinsically rewarding work. Hindering practices: Agree on the points you have plus using the annual ‘appraisal’ for downsizing/rightsizing exercises.
  • Pay and Reward: is a very broad topic, however, I think on the positive side we could have something on the disparity between reward for the top team and the lowest level roles should reflect the values of your organisation, commitments to shareholders and society at large. 
  • Pay and Reward: Could also mention equal pay/fairness from a DEI standpoint.
  • Pay and Reward: Hindering practices: NB Untransparent should b non-transparent or use opaque. I would add not putting salary levels on job adverts, not sharing (internally at least) pay bands so that colleagues can plan career moves. The other big one in terms of disparity is paying new hires top dollar and ignoring loyal long serving high performers.
  • L&D – Not just apprenticeships but also schemes for all categories of entrants e.g. Graduates and experienced hires. 
  • L&D: Positive practices: structured onboarding approach, perhaps with a buddy. For leaders in the past, I have facilitated assimilation workshops which proved very effective. Learning curriculums (or learning pathways) which include blended learning elements i.e. not just eLearning. Leadership development which is experiential in nature e.g. action learning based and cross functional i.e. stimulates the building of social networks across the organisation. Secondments to other organisations perhaps even charities which speaks to the moral and civic aspects. 
  • L&D: Where do we factor in career development – L&D for being effective in the current role and development to optimise potential for future larger / different roles? 
  • L&D Bad practices: eLearning point is spot on! Another (picked up from the HR Technology Conference) is that AI is not a magic L&D bullet. Getting the basics right (70:20:10 – which I know is flawed but quick shorthand) with a solid learning needs analysis is so often missing in organisations. Competency and skills frameworks as a cottage industry is another! (Positive – coherent frameworks/taxonomies not tied to banding/grading that have skills by proficiency level)
Our thanks go in particular to

  • Mark McAleer
  • Michele Zanini
  • Andy Hilger

Sign up as a SUPPORTER or CONTRIBUTOR for the manifesto! You can leave your feedback and comments in the form to co-create the next MVP! We will keep you informed of all developments.


Performance Management Is Broken!

Performance management is at the very heart of the organization, serving as THE vital connection between people and the overarching purpose of the business. However, let's face it – it is broken.

Acknowledging its (too) many shortcomings, there is a growing consensus that a revolution in performance management is necessary and urgent. Following many stimulating discussions at the HR Horizons Summit 2023, we have decided to rally a coalition of HR professionals, academics, consultants and business leaders to dismantle outdated practices and champion innovative solutions that truly contribute to organizational flourishing.

Our collective effort is fuelled by a shared commitment to more equitable, humane, and inspirational workplaces. Join us in this transformative endeavor as we strive to shape a future where performance management becomes a genuine catalyst for growth, development, joy and the collective prosperity and well-being of all!

Performance Management is Hated By Everybody

The many problems of performance management are widely recognised by HR, business leaders, employees and stakeholders.

  • Only 14% of employees strongly agree that performance reviews inspire them to improve.
  • Only 26% of employees say they received feedback that helps them do their job better
  • Only 23% of organisations say performance accountability reflects employee contributions
  • Fewer than one-third of employees believe the review process is fair. 
  • Only 18% of HR leaders consider performance management to be effective. 
  • 60% of HR executives give their own performance management systems a grade of C or below. 
  • Only 8% of HR executives feel performance accountability made contribution to business 
  • 98% of HR managers believe yearly evaluations are not useful. 
  • Over 90% of employees are dissatisfied with appraisal systems

The Data Is Overwhelming

The power of research demonstrating the shortfalls of tradtional performance management is crushing. Overall, the verdict is clear: there is little to no correlation between individual performance rankings and business results.

  • An overemphasis on SMART goals can lead to undermining of adaptive, innovative and entrepreneurial behaviors (see for instance Ordonez et al 2009)
  • An overemphasis on stretch, (over-)ambitious goals can lead to unwanted work intensification, stress and unethical behaviors (see for instance Schweitzer et al 2017)
  • Performance feedback does not work (Kluger et al 1996; DeNisi et al 2017); learning oriented meaningful conversations do (see for instance Budworth et al 2015)
  • Performance appraisal - ratings and rankings - are not accurate, create resistance, limit learning and are not linked to organisational performance (see for instance Murphy 2019)
  • High powered incentives often create misalignment (see for instance Roberts 2010), may undermine intrinsic motivation (see for instance Buch et al 2016), reduce contextual and creative performance, may lead to unethical behaviors (see for instance Park et al 2022) and create psychological as well as system-maintenance costs (see for instance Larkin et al 2012)
  • "High performance work practices" (in particular those aimed at motivation) when corrected with the costs created seem to undermine organisational performance (Kaufman 2012; Ho et al 2019)

A Necessary Transformation

Traditional performance management practices in organizations have long been plagued by significant challenges and frequent failures:

  • Performance management often reinforces a myopic fixation on short-term profits and a limited perspective of individuals as mere cogs in the machine.
  • Traditional performance management systems tend to foster a culture of fear and competition rather than collaboration, creativity and systemic flourishing.
  • A heavy reliance on quantitative and financial metrics leads to a narrow focus on easily measurable outcomes, neglecting the importance of qualitative aspects, systemic, ecological and social impact and individual development.
  • The emphasis on annual or biannual reviews often results in a retrospective and static evaluation, failing to capture the dynamic nature of employees' contributions.
  • In spite of good intentions, many innovative practices fail to acknowledge available evidence and research, perpetuating existing shortcomings
  • The time-consuming and bureaucratic nature of traditional performance appraisals contributes not only to costs, but also to disengagement and dissatisfaction among employees, and the collective squandering of human potential. 

It's time to take a stand!

Show your support for the manifesto campaign by taking a stand for flourishing at work! Send us your selfie with the sticker in your office!

"I'm not a human resource, I'm a human being!" (Henry Mintzberg)

You can get additional campaign stickers to spread the message further. Simply send us an email, and we'll provide you with the print files or connect you with our UK printers.

performance management WISDOM

Voices from global experts on performance management

Beyond Ratings: A Paradigm Shift In Performance Management! by tamra chandler

Tamra's inspiring call to action during our session was simple yet powerful: "Colleagues in HR, have some courage to change!" Join us for a stimulating 90-minute workshop as Tamra shares her powerful insights from decades of work in HR and organisational transformation, across sectors!

With a laser focus on the appraisal process, Tamra's message was crystal clear: if you still use traditional ratings, normal distribution curves, or forced levelling, just stop! Now! It's simply not good enough to rely on outdated methods. Instead, Tamra offered invaluable insights from decades in the field on fostering fairness, providing developmental feedback, and making reward systems more effective and transparent.

This session is an absolute treasure trove of wisdom, packed with practical lessons, innovative ideas, and actionable strategies for transforming performance management. Trust us, you won't want to miss it!

Tamra is a globally recognized thought leader, author, and speaker celebrated for developing innovative and transformative approaches to maximizing organizational performance. With over three decades of strategic collaboration spanning diverse sectors, she has been at the forefront of reshaping HR practices and organizational paradigms. Formerly a Partner at EY, she founded PeopleFirm LLC in 2009, earning accolades such as Forbes Magazine's "America’s Best Management Consulting Firms" and establishing it as a prominent women-owned enterprise in Washington. She is the esteemed author of three influential books on performance management: "How Performance Management Is Killing Performance"; "Rethinking Performance Management"; and "FEEDBACK (and Other Dirty Words) Why We Fear It, How to Fix It".

Reflections on Performance Management: Lessons From The HR Trenches by Mark McAleer

Join us for an an exciting 60-minute workshop with Mark McAleer as he shares his most powerful insights from 20+ years in corporate HR roles and over 15 years in in HR consulting, across 8 sectors!

We embark on a revealing journey through the HR trenches to dissect the intricacies of performance management. Get ready for the gritty realities and hard-earned insights from the frontline of HR operations: from the challenges of objective setting to the pitfalls of assessments and feedback, from the practicalities of succession to innovations in L&D or pay! Brace yourself for an illuminating exploration of HR wisdom, including and beyond 9-box matrices, PiPs and PDPs! In summary, Mark emphasizes that performance management remains critical for organizational success. Yet, he concludes, "businesses often have exactly the performance management they deserve," which should be enough to make executives pay more than lip service to its urgent transformation.

Mark McAleer stands as a beacon of progressive thought in leadership development and business transformation, boasting a wealth of expertise in HR and talent management on a global scale. With a distinguished executive career traversing diverse sectors like ICT, telco, oil & gas, FMCG, marketing, and finance, Mark currently serves as the Organization Solutions Director at BDO. Additionally, he is Visiting Lecturer on the MBA program at Hult Business School.

FROM DATA TO WISDOM - Navigating the Risks and Rewards of AI in Performance Management! by simon schafheitle

Join us for an an insightful 60-minute discussion with Simon Schafheitle as we delve into the promises and perils of Data and AI in HR!

In our discussion, we first examine the broader challenges of performance management highlighted in recent academic research. Then, we deep dive into the technological advancements in AI and automation, uncovering the significant risks organizations encounter today, such as surveillance and algorithmic bias, and the potential rise in workload and stress. However, amidst these challenges, we also explore the exciting opportunities technology offers - from data-driven insights to personalized development or greater freedom from mundane and repetitive work.Simon offers us a plethora of concrete examples from real-world applications and companies and prompts us to consider how we can responsibly harness innovation to empower employees and propel organizational success. Digital gains, according to Simon, require analog wisdom.

Simon Schafheitle is Assistant Professor for Human Resource Management and Artificial Intelligence at the University of Twente, specializing in the impact of technology on organizational control and human trust relationships in digital work settings. He earned his PhD from the University of St. Gallen in 2020, focusing on 21st-century workplace architecture and trust dynamics. Simon has received prestigious awards for his innovative research and practical contributions to the field.

From “Managing Performance” to “Unleashing Potential”: Lessons from the Vanguard! by Michele Zanini

In this session, we explore innovative strategies for enhancing employee performance, including dynamic feedback systems, adaptable goal-setting methods, peer recognition programs, alternative performance review approaches, data analytics integration, and the influence of organizational design.

Throughout the discussion, Michele highlights a series stimulating examples from many highly innovative organisations, including Buurtzorg, SpaceX, Haier, Gore, Nucor, Ingersoll Rand, Oktogonen and others.

Michele is a co-author of the Wall Street Journal Bestseller "Humanocracy," advocating for bold, entrepreneurial organizations that prioritize creativity and initiative over top-down power structures. With a background as a senior consultant at McKinsey & Company, he has extensive experience in large-scale transformation initiatives and research on emerging management practices. He is also a prolific writer for publications like the Harvard Business Review and a sought-after speaker at conferences worldwide.

THE PERFORMANCE PAY DILEMMA: Tackling Compensation Challenges! by Stefanie Hornung

This presentation explores the definition of pay and the connection between performance and compensation, highlighting the goals of performance pay, compensation components, and the ubiquitous nature of performance. It emphasizes the concept of holistic pay, which extends beyond monetary rewards to include impact and development opportunities. The presentation also addresses central compensation dilemmas faced by companies.

Moving on to "New Pay", it contrasts traditional pay structures with new approaches across seven dimensions, illustrated through examples. Finally, it discusses the dilemmas encountered on the New Pay journey and proposes a compass for addressing them, along with common challenges for all compensation approaches.

Stefanie Hornung is an influential freelance journalist renowned for her expertise in new management practices. She has deep insights into HR and is particularly recognized for her expertise in pay structures, having co-founded the New Pay Network and the New Pay Collective. She is a former key member of Europe's largest trade fair for HR management and has authored multiple books on compensation, contributing significantly to discussions on innovative pay models.

F**k The FUTURE OF WORK: Our Tragic Failure To Uphold [Our Own] Humanity by Antoinette Weibel and Otti Vogt 

In a world where the average person spends over 100,000 hours working, where more than 80% of adults deeply identify with their job roles, and where employment still far too often creates significant unhappiness, the imperative is clear—we must ensure that work becomes a positive force for as many people as possible.

And we firmly believe that this requires leadership. Leaders, across the board, need to not only deepen their understanding of what constitutes good work and actively contribute to its realization, but they must also scrutinize their own role within organisational systems, and assess their own capacity for transformative change, both personally and institutionally.

Seizing the opportunity of the recent global HR Congress, we turned the spotlight on a pivotal group of leaders – those in HR. Why HR? Because, more than any other leaders, we believe HR leaders should be the custodians of good work. After all, HR is all about people, isn’t it? But, here’s the twist: when Antoinette and I delved into the data, to be perfectly honest, we didn’t really see it. Thus, we decided to kick off the Congress with a gentle provocation: we suggest the future of work is looking increasingly bleak, because leaders – particularly those in HR – find themselves increasingly stuck.

Please find more information and recordings from the HR Congress Horizons World Summit 2023 here: https://horizon.hr-congress.com/. A big thanks to organisers, speakers and participants for all the superb conversations! 

Please visit the Global Society for Good Leadership LinkedIn page and hr.leadershipsociety.world for more details, references and further materials.

Performance Management INNOVATION by Jon Ingham

What is new in performance management? Performance management has undergone a remarkable transformation in recent decades, with innovative organizations leading the way in redefining its principles and practices.

  • One notable shift has been the move away from traditional, rigid performance appraisals towards more continuous and agile feedback systems. Forward-thinking companies recognize the importance of ongoing communication and development, fostering a culture of regular performance discussions rather than annual evaluations.
  • Innovative approaches also emphasize human-centric strategies. Organizations are increasingly focusing on individual growth, aligning personal development goals with broader organizational objectives. This shift from a top-down to a collaborative approach empowers employees, fostering a sense of ownership and engagement in their performance journey.
  • Another noteworthy aspect is the increasing emphasis on social and team-oriented practices. Rather than solely focusing on individual achievements, there is a growing recognition that many goals are achieved through teamwork and collaboration. As a result, performance management practices are adapting to incorporate team-based metrics and evaluations, encouraging a sense of camaraderie and mutual accountability and fostering a positive team culture where individuals are not only accountable for their own performance but also contribute to the success of the team as a whole.
  • Additionally, technology plays a pivotal role in this evolution. The advent of data analytics and AI-driven tools allows for more objective and real-time performance assessments. These tools not only streamline the process but also provide actionable insights for continuous improvement and make it easier for employees to engage.
In essence, Jon argues that innovation in performance management is characterized by agility, a strong emphasis on human development, more social inclusion and innovative technology. His insightful revision highlights both the progress made and areas that still require attention. In conclusion, Jon endorses a move towards "flourishing" as a new paradigm for a renewal of performance management.

Beyond the Hype: Exploring the Persistent Failures in Performance Management by Antoinette Weibel

Antoinette's insights shed light on a critical question: Is Performance Management innovation truly working? Despite the transformative changes highlighted by Jon Ingham, a comprehensive review of academic research by Antoinette reveals a significant gap between innovative practices and tangible improvements.

  • Goal Setting: Even with the introduction of OKRs, goal-setting remains highly prescriptive, often hindering rather than enhancing performance.
  • Performance Feedback: Contrary to expectations, performance feedback fails to create a substantial impact on actual performance
  • Ranking and Ratings: While intended to enhance performance, practices like ranking and ratings, have negative effects and contribute to "sorting" behaviours especially in the long-term
  • Transparency: Excessive transparency, though intended to promote accountability, often leads to gaming behavior, undermining the genuine improvement of performance.
  • Performance Evaluation: Despite ongoing innovations, performance evaluation consistently fails to delivering results, prompting a need for reevaluation.
  • Meritocracy: Antoinette challenges the notion of meritocracy, emphasizing that small biases are perpetuated and amplified, preventing the realization of true merit-based systems.
  • Pay for Performance: The link between pay and performance remains tenuous. Pay for performance often reduces both intrinsic motivation and actual performance, while generating high hidden costs.
  • CEO Pay: Antoinette suggests that outrageously high compensation for CEOs may explain the persistence of performance-contingent pay, while much research demonstrates its ineffectiveness.

In summary, Antoinette underscores the crucial disconnect between innovative performance management practices and their real-world impact. Her call for closer collaboration between practitioners and academics emphasizes the need for a more nuanced, evidence-based approach to truly drive positive change in performance management.


Introduction to the project

“There is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about.”

Meg Wheatley

Our Project

The project unfolds across three distinctive phases:

  • In phase 1, the emphasis is on research and development to craft an innovative performance management manifesto for presentation and agreement at the HR World Congress in Porto in May 2024.
  • Following this, phase 2 involves the ongoing refinement of the manifesto through collaborative efforts with pilot companies. Updates and findings are to be shared at the HR Horizons Conference in November.
  • Phase 3 extends the project's scope to encompass broader implementation and support of the methodology throughout the 2025 performance management cycle.
Currently, the project is only committed to phase 1. 

Key Deliverables

  1. Performance Management Manifesto (Value proposition & principles)
  2. Piloting programme with interested forward-thinking companies
  3. Novel performance management toolkit & good/bad practice catalogue
  4. Training materials & support for Continuous implementation
  5. Promotional campaign
  6. Alliance of early adopters & partners

Phase 1 Activities

  • Research & Development: Conduct in-depth research on alternative performance management models, develop a new methodology, and refine it based on continuous feedback.
  • Piloting Programme: Identify and collaborate with organizations willing to participate in pilot programs to test the effectiveness of the redefined performance management approach. Develop case studies and lessons learned 
  • HR Congress HR Strategy track: Facilitate introduction and collaborative refinement of the manifesto draft within the "HR Strategy" conference track. Ultimate goal is to produce a communiqué that will be endorsed by all congress participants at the end of the summit

Project Collaborators

Image Description
Antoinette Weibel
Professor for HRM and Organisation

University of St. Gallen
Otti Vogt
Former Chief Transformation Officer

Good Leadership Society
Mihaly Nagy

The HR Congress
Jon Ingham

Strategic HR Academy
Michele Zanini
Co-founder, MLab. Co-author, Humanocracy

Management Lab
Isabel Scarlett Neitzel
Manager People & Culture

Porsche Consulting
Bastian Becker
Global HR Director

Trivium Packaging
Stefanie Hornung
Journalist & Author on New Management

New Pay Collective
Mark McAleer
Organisation Solutions Director

Joan Lurie
coach : consultant : organisational ecologist

Perry Timms
Founder and Chief Energy Officer

People & Transformational HR Ltd
Tobias Nehls
Head of Global Mobility Management

Wilma Straatman
Director of People & Development

Simon Nash

Insight Group
Jeni Brown

Rubix3 Consulting
Sebastian Bueno
People & Culture

Pavel Charny
Managing Partner

Rufat Jahangir
Managing Director

Adizes Institute
Meike Wiemann
Lecturer, Project Manager & Postdoctoral Research Fellow

University of St. Gallen
Shalva Dzidziguri
Conference Producer

The HR Congress
Marc Pfyffer
Managing Partner

Pfyffer Partner
Rebecca Tillery

University of St. Gallen
Wolfgang Spitzenberger
Wolfgang Spitzenberger
Head of Human Resources

Raiffeisenlandesbank Oberösterreich

Join The Project

Can you join our growing coalition?

Absolutely yes! We invite all individuals with substantial expertise in HR, performance management, and/or organizational development to be part of this transformative journey. If on top of that you possess an innovative mindset, a collaborative approach, and a willingness to explore new ideas, you are most welcome to join our project team and be a driving force in reshaping the future of performance management!

For all interested individuals and further information: please just send us a note at info@leadershipsociety.world

THE manifesto LAB

Building a new management model

What is Performance Management?

Performance management is a systematic and continuous process that involves planning, monitoring, developing, reviewing, evaluating and rewarding the performance of individuals or teams within an organization. It aims to optimize individual and team performance, align behaviours with strategic goals, enable professional development, and thus contribute to the overall success of the organization.

Key practices of performance management typically include 

  • Setting “smart” objectives
  • Providing regular performance feedback
  • Appraising performance against established criteria
  • Identifying areas for improvement and development
  • Recognizing and rewarding achievements (or managing the consequences of underperformance)
However, many additional HR practices, such as recruitment and selection, learning & development, employee engagement and recognition, HR analytics, payroll, OD, D&I directly or indirectly support performance management. 

From Agile to Excellence (Manifesto Launch Presentation at the HR World Congress)

academic resources

Academic Resources

While this article is predominantly about CSR, the exact same argument applies to "new work" and popular "alternatives to performance management" where proponents argue for more autonomy or meritocracy, but fail to examine the relevance of a hegemonic capitalist discourse or challenge the foundational "logic" of the existing economic system. Read on:

To explain the frequent failures of current CSR practices and to explore the possibilities of remedying them, I examine the close relationship between CSR, the persistent expansion of capitalism, and the pressure that capitalism puts on companies to legitimize their business operations. My analysis shows that the failure of CSR to serve as a corrective to the problematic effects of capitalism is, in fact, an inevitable consequence of the problematic dynamics of the capitalist system. On this basis, I suggest that capitalism limits the possibilities of making CSR more effective, argue for change on the systemic level of capitalism, and explore the ways in which CSR research can contribute to this political endeavor.

This is a nice overview of the state of the art albeit a bit behind practice (it took them surely 3 years to get in published) - it is a good complement to Jons' resource.

This article reviews the history of performance management (PM), beginning with performance evaluation. We discuss various strategies that have been used to enable accurate ratings as well as cognitive processes and contextual factors that have been shown to significantly impact ratings. We raise questions about the concept of true performance and whether raters can be enabled and motivated to make accurate ratings. We progress to discussing more structured and comprehensive PM processes that typically involve cascading goals, goal setting, competency modeling, evaluation of behavior and results, and implementation. These systems have proven to be tedious and low-value, resulting in unprecedented, wide-spread experimentation with innovative practices to move companies away from heavy PM processes to simpler, cost-effective strategies that actually drive performance. These have ranged from abandoning ratings to implementing innovations in goal-setting, real-time feedback, coaching, and PM behavior change. Directions for future research and practice are discussed.

This is a rather brave article as the authors had to fight very rigid doorkeepers of the dominant paradigm. There is more follow-up research on this by all three authors and a cheeky short article from Meike and myself side here: https://www.corporate-rebels.com/blog/dark-side-of-okrs-and-why-we-should-care

Goal setting is one of the most replicated and influential paradigms in the management literature. Hundreds of studies conducted in numerous countries and contexts have consistently demonstrated that setting specific, challenging goals can powerfully drive behavior and boost performance. Advocates of goal setting have had a substantial impact on research, management education, and management practice. In this article, we argue that the beneficial effects of goal setting have been overstated and that systematic harm caused by goal setting has been largely ignored. We identify specific side effects associated with goal setting, including a narrow focus that neglects nongoal areas, distorted risk preferences, a rise in unethical behavior, inhibited learning, corrosion of organizational culture, and reduced intrinsic motivation. Rather than dispensing goal setting as a benign, over-the-counter treatment for motivation, managers and scholars need to conceptualize goal setting as a prescription-strength medication that requires careful dosing, consideration of harmful side effects, and close supervision. We offer a warning label to accompany the practice of setting goals.

In my speech I shortly allude to the transparency paradox - but that article is a hard read. Here is another one of Ethan Bernstein which also brings technology on top into the discussion.

Observation is key to management scholarship and practice. Yet a holistic view of its role in management has been elusive, in part due to shifting terminology. The current popularity of the term “transparency” provides the occasion for a thorough review, which finds (a) a shift in the object of observation from organizational outcomes to the detailed individual activities within them; (b) a shift from people observing the technology to technology observing people; and (c) a split in the field, with managers viewing observation almost entirely from the observer’s perspective, leaving the perspective of the observed to the realm of scholarly methodology courses and philosophical debates on privacy. I suggest how the literature on transparency and related literatures might be improved with research designed in light of these trends.

There is a similar article by Kluger/De Nisi in Journal of Applied Psychology but this one just makes for a much better read:

A wide range of systems for evaluating performance have been used in organisations, ranging from traditional annual performance appraisals to performance management systems built around informal, real-time evaluations, and these systems almost always fail. Rather than continuing to make cosmetic adjustments to this system, organisations should consider dropping the practice of regularly evaluating the performance of each of their employees, focusing rather on the small subset of situations in which evaluations of performance and performance feedback are actually useful. Four barriers to successful performance evaluation are reviewed: (a) the distribution of performance, (b) the continuing failure to devise reliable and valid methods for obtaining judgments about performance, (c) the limited utility of performance feedback to employees, and (d) the limited utility of performance evaluations to organisations. In this paper, I propose ways of managing performance without relying on regular performance evaluation, refocusing managers' activities from performance management to performance leadership.

Please consult also the articles on our team drive - many are behind a pay wall. I have chosen this one as it arguably depicts the biggest problem with high powered incentives. Read on:

The design of incentive systems is a central issue in the economics of organization. This paper argues that very often the ideal incentive systems to use within firms will involve low-powered incentives. Five particular circumstances leading to weak incentives being optimal are examined.

As Richard Posner (Reference Posner2010) demonstrates, a major issue in the economics of organization is the design of compensation and incentive systems. Footnote 1 Much of Posner's discussion focuses on CEO compensation, but the issue arises at all levels of the organization. Recent years have seen numerous calls to strengthen incentives within organizations, ‘bringing the market inside the firm’. The supposed advantages are that people will work harder and smarter if they are rewarded for results. As an economist, I do believe that people respond to incentives. Nevertheless, strong incentives are often a very bad idea, especially within organizations. In fact, strong, misguided incentives have played a fundamental role in bringing about the global economic crisis we are now experiencing. The problem is that people respond just as strongly to badly designed incentives as they do to well-structured ones. And when those badly designed incentives are strong, they can lead to really egregious forms of behavior, and the results then can be horrendous.

Practitioner Resources

As I noted in my session, for me, the need for HR to be both strategic and people-centric (see my newsletter on multi-sided HR) is the most important paradox we face. This leads on to the need to both create organisation capability, and develop culture, which was the focus of my own session, and which I'll be reviewing in my newsletter early in 2024 (subscribe to learn more about this then). So it was interesting to also listen to a panel discussing the transformation of performance management which was on after me, touching on the needs to navigate paradox (eg managing both individual and team performance), and to support both culture and capability. However, what most struck me was that... https://lnkd.in/eVh97cZ6

In a world where the average person spends over 100,000 hours working, where more than 80% of adults deeply identify with their job roles, and where employment creates significant unhappiness, the imperative is clear—we must ensure that work becomes a positive force for as many people as possible.

I've been thinking about whether, if there is a growing opportunity to shift from a top-down, measurement based, compliance focused system of performance management towards a bottom-up, human and commitment focused approach that I've called performance leadership, then whether it is time to start downplaying many organisations' emphasis on SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timebound - or variations of this).

Selected essays from our blog


Is your approach to performance management more aligned with liberal innovation, conservative stability, socialist equality, libertarian autonomy, authoritarian control, or perhaps environmental sustainability?
(3 min read)

How Economic Science Lost Its Heart and Soul (…and What We Can Do About It)
Imagine a society where people interact with trust, solidarity and fraternity. Where welfare is not measured in terms of GDP, but lived in terms of public happiness. Where the economy is virtuous and markets aim at shared prosperity through mutual exchange and generous reciprocity. Where organisations are, first and foremost, positive agents of societal change — creating communities, not commodities. And where work is centred on the integral development of each person, not solely on products…
(9 min read)
Remembering Polanyi: Where Are We On Our "Great Transformation"?

Is “Business Ethics” an oxymoron? No. Commercial performance and ethics are by no means incommensurable —but they ask fundamentally different questions. Ethics is about choosing whither to go — how to grow, and why. Performance is about progressing towards a chosen destination in the most efficient way possible, adapting to obstacles and opportunities along the road.

The Sustainability Lie: Why Responsibility Comes First

Isn’t it funny that sustainability is on everybody’s lips these days, but environmental and societal degradation are occurring at unprecedented levels? And ain’t it curious that the planet is burning, but few people in (solar-powered!) corporate or political headquarters are sweating?
(6 min read)

Curious to read more about our ongoing inquiry? A good place to start is our blog with all recent leadership articles and posts.