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Performance Management 2015:

Sony Europe – Performance management 2011
•    1 Mar 2011
•    Published in: IDS Case studies

Sony Europe Limited introduced a new performance management scheme in April 2010. It places a greater focus on changing the manager and employee mindset; having clear and real consequences following reviews; providing staff with appropriate and timely development tools and appraisal training; and putting simple, user-friendly systems and processes in place. The HR team believes that in using these principles, the new process – based on a ‘know me, focus me, grow me’ framework – has removed barriers for managers and empowered individuals to take ownership of their own development.
A change in approach
Sony Europe launched its new performance management process in response to feedback from line managers and employees that its previous appraisal scheme was too complicated, over-structured and rigid. ‘Before the new system was launched, we didn’t have a performance-driven culture,’ says Christoph Williams, Senior Manager – Talent & Performance. ‘We didn’t address what I call “social loafers” – people doing the bare minimum to get by – and that negatively impacted on the morale and motivation of other employees, who would question “why should I try so hard?”.’
‘But as well as not fully addressing underperformance, the old scheme was failing to identify strong performers,’ Williams continues. ‘We were actually paying employees a bonus of £250 every quarter if 95 per cent of the business completed their forms on time. HR was essentially bribing people to do something that should be part of their job.’
Seeking feedback from the business
Williams organised a number of focus groups to find out from the business the main issues with the existing performance management process. ‘What I heard from people was that the process was over-structured and inflexible, and that our systems were difficult to navigate,’ says Williams. ‘Employees felt like they were prisoners of the process, as it was too complicated. Line managers also said that although they had completed the appraisal training course when they first started in their role, they didn’t feel confident by the time they actually came to having the formal review meeting.’
‘It was clear from listening to our employees that they were facing a number of barriers, so our challenge in HR was to formulate a system that eliminated these obstacles,’ says Williams. ‘We also wanted to move away from performance management being an HR process that was imposed on people, towards a situation where individuals wanted to drive their own development and career progression. This was a fundamental shift at Sony, where the focus has always been on the here-and-now – on meeting immediate objectives rather than on developing employees for the future.’
The five building blocks
On the basis of the employee feedback, the HR team identified five core components or ‘building blocks’ for successful performance management:
•    mindset
•    consequences
•    skills
•    tools/systems
•    model/process.

Questions for Case Study (Sony Europe):
Identify and critically analyse the performance management process used by the case study organisation.  In your answer you should address each of the following:

a)    Critically discuss the extent to which the performance management process used by Sony Europe can be considered ‘strategic’.
b)    Critically analyse 2 key components and techniques of the approach(es) taken to performance management
c)    Critically discuss whether the organisation takes an ‘ethical’ approach to performance management.
d)    Make 2 in-depth recommendations in order to improve the performance management process used by the organisation (with justification for your recommendations underpinned by the literature).
e)    Critically discuss how the performance management processes/systems in place may need to be reviewed in a recession.

Guidelines for writing:
1.    you should complete an individual written piece of work based on the presentation findings (1,500 words).
2.    You are required to evaluate the theoretical concepts encountered within the module (found on the handbook) and apply them to the case study.
3.    Your written piece of work should reference the academic literature, which has informed your analysis.
4.    Avoid repeating details of the case study and being too descriptive.
5.    The word count is 1500 words for the written piece of work. The word count must be included in your submission
6.    The Assignment must have NO introduction and NO conclusion
7.    The paper must be totally answering the five questions (no literature review)


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