Managing performance without ratings will be harder to adopt in Asia

Author: Justin Harper | Date: 23 Mar 2016

New methods of appraisal are needed but may not be readily accepted, Fermin Diez tells Future Ready Forum

While the appetite for new systems of ongoing appraisal and feedback – away from the traditional annual performance management process (PMP) – is growing in Asia, there are question marks over how well it can be adopted in the region.
Fermin Diez, is a human capital expert with more than 30 years of experience in Asia, who is adjunct professor at the Lee Kong Chian School of Business at Singapore Management University (SMU), told the Future Ready Forum that “PMP is not working the way it should so it’s time to look at models that factor in development and growth. But so many people are married to PMP even though it’s not always working for them,” said Diez.
Critics of performance-based ranking models say it demolishes teamwork and builds fear while setting the manager up as an inconsistent judge. The alternative is a more 360-degree approach where peers are involved, along with constant feedback between employees and managers.
Technology firms such as Google, Microsoft, Cisco and Netflix have led the way in shunning performance-related systems in favour of peer feedback and a culture of growth, not rankings. Google even has an app that enables employees to send daily feedback to peers and superiors.
But non-tech organisations such as GE and Accenture are also championing non-performance related processes. Diez said the USA has adopted the system better as it has a more individualistic society and management can be challenged more. However, Asian organisations tend to be more hierarchical with a paternalistic culture, making it harder to implement such innovations in the workplace.
He added: “It will be harder for Asia to bring in performance without ratings, but not impossible. The danger is employers will just change the labels they give people but still use the same ratings culture”.
Asian organisations that have a strong and unified culture are more likely to embrace a performance-without-ratings culture, said Diez. “Proctor & Gamble has a single and unified culture across the world, regardless of which country it is operating in. They do this by employing people who fit the culture”.
Another area where Asian organisations are playing catch up is the integration of multi-generational workforces. Techniques such as reverse mentoring – where older employees are paired with younger ones, often used to transferring technology skills – are a crucial part of bringing different generations of workers together.
Thomas Menkhoff, professor of organisational behaviour and human resources at the Singapore Management University, said: “If I look at Singapore’s corporate world there are not many good cases that I can share with you now. Reverse mentoring is not widespread yet. Much more could be done.”