Humany Rescource — Performance Management

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Executive Summary

This study involved a human resource analysis of the performance management review process at Colin Biggers and Paisley (CBP), a mid-tier law firm in Australia. The company has faced increased turnover, disengaged employees and increased issues in practice which have posed challenges to the company’s vision in recent times. Thus the company’s human resource team conducted an engagement survey across the practice. This survey indicated that the company’s problems were related to performance management, process, and information. Consequently, CBP developed a new performance review process referred to as PULSE (Productive Useful Leadership Strategy Engagement), a strategy that focuses on regular and honest communication, forward focused communication, employees’ strengths, and transparency in the review process.

This study had the objective of applying a HR lens to this performance management/review issue at CBP. Specifically, the study aimed at finding out whether the performance management review process at CBP offer transparency, encourage regular communication and effectively manage performance and development.

The study generated feedback from a representative pilot group of CBP employees (10%) from a cross-section of staff from groups, states, and positions. The results indicate that the new system has improved communication and transparency in the firm, especially between the line managers and employees. Respondents also feel that they are clear on what is expected of them from the company. However, the findings indicate areas of concern with the new system: the link between performance evaluation and remuneration, what the ratings indicate, and the online technology put in place. Thus, this study recommend some modifications on PULSE to ensure it performs optimally, it also recommends a training of supervisors on carrying out performance reviews and an improvement of the online system.

Implications/ Recommendations

The findings of this study indicate that PULSE has brought improvements in the performance management process at CBP. Improved communication and transparency in the review process rank highest among the improvements indicated. Most respondents feel that they understand what is expected of them, the communication between the line managers is more honest and effective and the new system is open and fairer. Frequency of the reviews also received positive views from the respondents. However, the new system has been faulted on the abstract nature of its rating system, the connection between rating and remuneration, time consumption of the process and the nature of the online system used.

One of the areas that the employees were mostly dissatisfied with is the connection between their performance and remuneration. A company’s aim of carrying performance reviews is to ensure that their performance is in line with its goals and objectives, one of which is profitability (Bartol, 1999). The employees view is that their performance should correlate with their remuneration (O’Conell & O’ Sullivan, 2014). Thus, whether through salary increment or through non-financial measure, the new system should indicate rewards as a motivation to the employees. Including, a reward for improved rating in PULSE would further improve its effectiveness. In addition, it is important that the employees understand what a rating score means. For instance, if one has a rating of 3 or 4, they know exactly what that means in relation to remuneration and rewards.

Although improved communication is applauded by the employees, 70% feel are not sure how the communication improve or help their performance. Additionally, some employees feel that their supervisors are not forthcoming with information and others are now well acquainted with the review process. The other issue CBP should consider if whether the same review process is beneficial for all employees; in different levels, and different departments. Some respondents like the receptionists felt that their job does not change much and thus does not require performance review in an ongoing manner. Therefore, this survey recommends training of supervisors and managers on the review process and its benefits. As such, they will not only carry out the process, but they will also be able to communicate its benefits to the employees and answer any questions they might have.

A major improvement is needed on the online system employed by PULSE. 80 percent of the respondents felt that lack of editing function when filling the online line form denies is a big impediment since one may not correct a mistake. Additionally, respondents do not approve of comment box being the same for both the managers and employees, they prefer two separate boxes. Separate boxes will also be easier when sorting the comments. Improving the user interface and adding interactive features in the online system will improve the efficiency of the system. The respondents’ concerns over privacy of the online system, such that, it is not clear who sees information on employees. This should be factored in during the improvement of the online system.

This survey used a pilot group of 10% of CBP employees which is around 39 of the total 390 employees. There was the restriction that half of the PULSE system would not be rolled out until the effectiveness of the system was carried out, hence the small sample. Although the study made efforts to make it as representative as possible, there was a limitation especially because there was a big difference between the number of male (28%) and female (72%) respondents. Therefore there is a limitation on generalizability of the results findings. Further research is necessary, using a more representative sample to come up with more conclusive findings.


The study sought to apply the HR perspective to the performance management at CPB, specifically on the issues of transparency, communication and effective management of performance and management. The findings indicate that PULSE is an effective performance review process especially on transparency, communication and fairness, but improvement is needed on management of performance. Employee engagement in the review process is one of the strategies hailed for effectiveness in performance management. CPB focusing on employees’ views to its performance management is the right way of ensuring effectiveness of its process. The performance review process at CBP is satisfactory, however the management of employees after review is not well factored in. Thus, some employees do not see the relationship between the review process and their performance in the company. To be effective, performance management should marry both the process (means) and the results (end). CBP should connect performance reviews with rewards, train its managers on PULSE and make improvements on its online system to improve the effectiveness of their review process.


Bartol, KM 1999, ‘Reframing Salesforce Compensation Systems: An Agency Theory-Based Performance Management Perspective’, Journal of Personal Selling & Sales Management, vol. 19, no. 3, pp. 1-16

O’Connell, V, & O’Sullivan, D 2014, ‘The influence of lead indicator strength on the use of nonfinancial measures in performance management: Evidence from CEO compensation schemes’, Strategic Management Journal, vol. 35, no. 6, pp. 826-844