Judicial performance management – fact or fiction?


All stories need a setting. Our story involves the organisational management practices of the NSW Police. When I was a boy, stories started with “Once upon a time…”. Nowadays, it seems that in the context of this subject, police stories begin with, “So help me God”.

Performance management as applied by businesses now, evolved from performance appraisal practices that retrospectively compared individual worker’s traits (worth or value) with criteria set by the organisation. Early iterations of performance appraisal denied the worker the right of appeal. Over time, workers were able to offer feedback and appeal against a poor performance rating.

Business practices now set metrics to evaluate worker alignment to business strategic objectives or tactical goals. Metrics can relate to enterprise, regional, site or task management expectations. If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. The current system is intended to acknowledge that workers add value to an organisation. So, performance appraisal evolved into performance management, an accepted way in which to mentor, coach and improve the human asset in line with management expectations. Almost sounds to good to be true. Performance management is not all about happy endings. Like all tools used by people, performance management has a dark side.

In the real world, a butter knife can be used as an offensive weapon, so can performance management. The dark side of performance management can also activate other management processes like investigations, the disciplinary system and of course, to be fair and just, the appeal system.

When used unethically to achieve management objectives or objectives that are not necessarily the objectives of the organisation; performance management can cause psychological harm and even death. Suicides and murder can be linked to poor performance management outcomes as they place workers, who are the subject of the process, under greater stress…Click here to read full article.