The line manager’s role

Performance management and appraisal is usually carried out by line managers rather than HR professionals, so it’s important these managers understand their role and how performance appraisal can contribute to the overall aims of performance management.

Line managers’ central role in performance management means they need to ensure that the people or teams they manage:

• know and understand what is expected

• have the skills and ability to deliver on these expectations

• are supported by the organisation to develop the capacity to meet these expectations

• are given feedback on their performance

• have the opportunity to discuss and contribute to individual and team aims and objectives.

Line managers’ key role in performance management also means its success will depend on their ability to apply it. At their best, performance management systems ensure that managers themselves are aware of the impact of their own behaviour on their staff, and exhibit positive supportive behaviours that help their team perform.

However, studies show that up to three-quarters of performance management initiatives fail, and much of this is laid at the door of the annual appraisal system which remains in widespread use. It’s not exactly news that traditional annual appraisals can be seen as potentially difficult and painful experiences by all involved.