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Academic Interview: Randa Hariri

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HaririIn 2017, the Performance Magazine editorial team interviewed Randa Hariri, Ph.D and Director of Strategic-Operational Planning & Performance Evaluation Department/Assistant Professor at the Dar Al-Hekma University, Saudi Arabia. Her thoughts and views on Performance Management are detailed below.

Performance management has to undertake a paradigm shift from adopting a judgment and accountability approach, to following an improvement and enhancement approach.

Trends

  1. Which were the 2016 key trends in Performance Management, from your point of view?

Performance management differs from one industry to another. From my position as an academic consultant, I view the performance management system as a holistic process that should make wise use of the interrelated collected data, as well as praise the engagement of all employees through encouraging self-evaluation processes, by producing portfolios that document everyone’s work and reveal their progress.

In this portfolio, employees are encouraged to include all data that measures their performance; accordingly, the employee is encouraged to develop or select the KPIs that best measure their performance and contribute to the achievements of their own objectives that strictly align with their respective departmental and institutional objectives and missions. In this way, the KPIs would be more relevant and acquire more than judgmental meaning to the employees.

  1. What are your thoughts on the integration of Performance Management at the organizational, departmental and employee levels?

The integration of Performance Management at the organizational, departmental and employee level is highly necessary and highly recommended. This integration is highly related to the intended alignment along the various levels and thus best ensures the achievement of the objectives at the different levels.

Most importantly, this integration provides the employees an ownership of the objectives at all levels and enhances their contribution to their achievement. Alongside with the performance management integration at all levels, comes the importance of educated or informed decisions that must be data-driven.

  1. Which will be the major changes in managing performance, in the future?

The major changes in managing performance in the future should focus more on the employees’ wellbeing, mainly their motivation and professional development.

Accordingly, this entails more focus not only on the outcomes or results, but rather on the employees’ behaviors. This aligns with the holistic approach to performance management, which recommends more work engagement for the employees that starts with the development of the objectives at all levels, as well as with the evaluation of their performance.

Performance management has to undertake a paradigm shift from adopting a judgment and accountability approach, to following an improvement and enhancement approach. This paradigm shift in the approach renders the employee more responsible for their work and for their own personal achievement, as well as the achievement of the whole organization.

Nevertheless, this does not entail that employees should ignore data completely, but recommends making wise use of the data that they need to seek or collect. This renders the employees of any organization to be the data owners, the data collectors, and most importantly the data analyzers of their work in relation to their own objectives, the departmental objectives, as well as the organizational objectives.

Moreover, it emphasizes the importance of engaging employees in the evaluation process and most significantly, focusing on their engagement in relation to the achievements they have to work towards. This in-depth engagement constitutes an intrinsic reason to succeed for an employee, which is way more effective than the existing external motivations such as, but not limited to, incentives of all kinds.

Research

  1. What aspects of Performance Management should be explored more through research?

There are always new topics to be researched and explored in performance management. One of the main ones that have not been researched could be:

  • How could performance management be related to leadership practices?
  • What KPIs can best measure the BOT performance?
  1. Which organizations would you recommend to be looked at, due to their particular approach to managing performance, and their subsequent results?

Ultimately, educational institutions are unique and cannot be included within the business organizational frame. In light of this, the performance management system in these institutions must be reconsidered and a special performance management system & customized tools for this sector must be developed accordingly.

This is significantly obvious through the specificity of the clients, although this term is not favored by educators, that educational institutions deal with, who are the students: the students who are the starting point of any educational institution and their end product. In addition, educational institutions have another kind of specificity related to their employees. Schools, colleges and universities have special treatments to teachers or faculty members on the one hand, and to other staff members on the other hand.

  1. Which of the existing trends, topics or particular aspects within Performance Management have lost their relevance and/or importance, from your point of view?

I think that any aspects which do not mean much to the employees and are used solely for their judgement value, not for improvement purposes, lose their relevance in any performance management system. The more performance management aspects are used for improvement purposes, the more relevant they get.

Practice

  1. Which are main challenges of Performance Management in practice, today?

The main challenges of a Performance Management System, in practice in the past and today, are still almost the same. These challenges are manifested in the selection or development of appropriate KPIs that best measure the respective objectives.

  1. What should be improved in the use of Performance Management tools and processes?

I think that every Performance Management System has to be linked to an evidence and feedback subsystem that documents achievements, in addition to the factors that contributed negatively or positively to achieving those respective achievements. This would be a vital element in the paradigm shift towards the improvement or development of performance management.

  1. What would you consider as a best practice in Performance Management?

The alignment along the different levels: institutional, divisional, departmental and employee levels.  In addition, the measurement used through specific KPIs, which can lead to informed decisions based on data.

Education

  1. Which aspects of Performance Management should be emphasized during educational programs?

From my perspective & experience as an educator in higher education institution, I believe more emphasis should be put on or even a special section could be designed about educational institutions and the management systems that can best be employed in these institutions.

Such a topic must be included in the educational programs about management systems. This emphasis is worth being considered due to the importance of the education sector, its size, and role in today’s societies.

  1. What are the limits that prevent practitioners from achieving higher levels of proficiency in Performance Management?

There are always limits for every functional system whose effects vary from low levels of influence to high levels. Nevertheless, the limits that prevent practitioners from achieving higher levels of proficiency in Performance Management focus on the following:

  • Sharing data among practitioners in the same field, which influences benchmarking purposes.
  • Focusing on the outputs rather than the outcomes
  • The restricted ability of the performance management systems to evaluate creativity;
  • Communicating data
  • Integrating data from different systems;

Personal Performance

  1. What is your opinion on the emerging trend of measuring performance outside working hours?

I totally disagree with this emerging trend. The employee is a human being whose nature we need to respect, as well as respond to his needs and abilities. On the contrary, I am an advocate of closing emails after working hours to give employees time to relax and resume their work more efficiently and effectively the next day.

  1. What personal performance measurement tools do you use?

Actually, due to the specificity of educational institutions that I emphasized earlier, we developed a system in our university, customized to best document and monitor the progress of the achievements of all objectives and their respective KPIs, including the detailed action plans.

Connected to this system are scorecards, dashboards and databases, which are developed and maintained at the departmental, divisional and institutional levels, to measure our KPIs.

Interestingly enough, we succeeded in transforming these scorecards into self-evaluation tools that are used by each respective manager at the departmental, divisional, and institutional levels to monitor their progress and document their achievements.  These altogether provide us with precise information of where we are & where do we want to be. In addition, this tool allows us to identify the challenges that we are facing towards attaining any target and thus achieving any objective.

Specific Question

14a. Academic Perspective: We are developing a database of subjects/degrees in Performance Management. What are your suggestions relevant to the database (i.e. subjects/degrees such as the Masters in Managing Organizational Performance)?

I would much like to see you developing one-year diplomas or certificates with focused content on performance management-related topics.

14b. Consultant Perspective: What are the processes and tools you look at, in order to differentiate a successful performance management system, from a superficial one?

In regards to educational institutions, which are my main focus, I look at whether that institution’s system has tools or instruments that are well customized for it, taking into considerations the specificity of such an institution at all levels. Such an instrument could be a Management System that incorporates one’s portfolio of achievements as a self-evaluation tool, which is integrated into the grand design of the whole institution.

14c. Practitioner Perspective: Which were the recent achievements in generating value from performance management in your organization?

We have changed the way our scorecards work. From simply displaying data to a user and nothing else, we’ve redesigned and improve them, turning them into self-evaluation tools, which can showcase strong points, weaknesses and also give the user the ability to share achievements.

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