Don’t blame the system

I’ve previously been a little critical of the Strategic Human Resource Management (SHRM) movement and the impact their approaches have on social capital inside organisations. Well, I’m not surprised that according to some research by OnPointConsulting most HR professionals are dissatisfied are with their performance management systems. Further, simply tweaking or changing the system doesn’t really have any effect – they advise:

The system components that people seem to change most frequently do not directly address the primary obstacles we discovered in our survey: lack of clarity between pay and performance, inconsistent application of the system, lack of commitment to developing people, and lack of managerial skills. Generally, it’s a user problem, not a system problem. Pick a system, commit to it, and make sure everyone is on the same page.

Of course my big question to the SHRM community is why this should come as a surprise? But really its little unfair to just pick on the HR department – there are lessons here for anyone attempting to change people’s behaviour using information systems to manage a process.