Managing Performance to Change Behavior

Summary of Article

In the traditional system of performance appraisal, both parties (the employer and the employee) are somewhat dissatisfied. Research suggests that appraisals generally fail in improving employee performance. Rather than performance appraisal, organizations need a robust mechanism of performance management that may depend on rating the performance of employees. Performance management involves an entire gamut of activities planned and initiated by a leader or supervisor to influence behaviors of subordinates. Such activities include providing feedback, offering incentives for improved performance and setting future goals. The problem however is – how can the performance rating of employees be made accurate? It is hard to unanimously vouch for the accuracy of any one rating system. Rather than the actual accuracy of the rating system, as DeNisi (2011) argues, the perception of the employee as to the accuracy of the rating system is more important. The aim of performance management should be to motivate employees to change their behavior. Simply put, improved performance calls for behavioral changes on the part of the employees. If this is to occur, the employees need to see the need for the change, for this they need feedback and ratings. For this, the rating system needs to be transparent so that the employees perceive the accuracy of the performance ratings. This can be done by not only elaborating the rating mechanism to employees but also by giving them a chance to appeal or question the ratings. If employees trust the feedback and see that to achieve a certain goal, they need to change a behavior, they will do so. DeNisi (2011) argues that if employees can see how their behavior improves their performance at a higher level and how it will improve the performance of the firm itself, it will make it easier for them to change their behavior to improve individual as well as organizational performance.

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Relevance of Article to Organizational Development

This article is of high relevance to organizational development. It scrutinizes every aspect of performance management and how it can be implemented to encourage performance improvement through employee engagement and behavioral changes. The article stresses on the importance of introducing a transparent rating and feedback system so employees know what behavioral changes are required and how these changes will affect their as well as their organization’s performance.

How organizational leaders can apply this information to improve employee performance in organizations

Organizational leaders need to introduce a robust mechanism of performance management that goes beyond just training and coaching employees and giving them annual appraisals. The mechanism should encourage employees to actively work towards improving the performance of the organization by improving their own performance. Regular updates and incentives on major achievements of the organization should be given to employees so they witness the influence of their actions on the organization. Regular feedback sessions should be established in which the employee should also be given a voice to appeal or question the feedback.

How HRD or HR leaders can apply this information

HR leaders should first understand that to improve performance of employees, it is essential to motivate them to bring in behavioral changes. They should create regular reports on the performance of each employee and suggest behavioral changes that will enhance their performance. They should find out the difficulties faced by employees (systemic, technological, environmental, etc.) that could be hampering their performance. In addition to incentives for individual performance, they should also introduce incentives for achievements made by the organization as a whole.


DeNisi, A. S. (2011). Managing Performance to Change Behavior. Journal of Organizational Behavior Management, 31(4), 262–276.

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