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Performance Management Can Be Fixed: An On-the-Job Experiential Learning Approach for Complex Behavior Change

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 March 2015

Elaine D. Pulakos*
PDRI—A CEB Company, Arlington, Virginia
Rose Mueller Hanson
PDRI—A CEB Company, Arlington, Virginia
Sharon Arad
Cargill, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Neta Moye
PDRI—A CEB Company, Arlington, Virginia
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Elaine D. Pulakos, PDRI—A CEB Company, 1777 North Kent Street, Suite 401, Arlington, VA 22209. E-mail:


In spite of numerous attempts over decades to improve performance management (PM) systems, PM is viewed as more broken than ever, with managers and employees seeing it as a burdensome activity that is of little value. Yet, the behaviors that PM is meant to achieve are in fact important drivers of engagement and performance. So where is the disconnect? The problem is that formal PM systems have reduced PM to intermittent steps and processes that are disconnected from day-to-day work and behaviors that actually drive performance: communicating ongoing expectations, providing informal feedback in real time, and developing employees through experience. To deliver on its promise, PM needs to shift from focusing on the formal system to focusing on the PM behaviors that matter every day. We describe a 5-step PM reform process that helps organizations achieve this change and that shows promise for increasing satisfaction and positive outcomes from PM processes. Central to the intervention is that organizational members need to intentionally practice and solidify effective PM behavior through a structured, on-the-job, experiential learning intervention that yields meaningful behavior change. The change-management and training interventions discussed here provide a model for organizational culture and behavior change efforts beyond PM.

Focal Article
Copyright © Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology 2015 

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