Community Care is a charity founded in the 1980s when the government of the day intrODuced its Care in the Community policy, which invoLVed taking people with learning difficulties out of institutions and putting them in the care of the community, ie the social services department of the local authority. The AIm of the charity is to provide additional care facilities in non-residential centres that supplement those provided by local authorities. It is financed partly by contracts with local authorities (70 per cent) and the rest by fund-raising.
The charity operates mainly in the southern half ofEngland, with headquarters in Crawley. A board of trustees is responsible for policy and overall direction. The chief executive reports to the chair of the board. There are four regions, each headed by a regional director with, on average, a staff of two development officers, two care team leaders and tHRee administrators. Between them the regions operate 65 centres, each with about six full-time or full-time equivalent staff supported by volunteers. The functions in headquarters, each headed by a director, are community operations, development, fund-raising, finance/IT and hr. The total number of staff employed is 582, 32 in the regional offices, 390 in the care centres and 160 at headquarters. There is a recognized and active trade union with 55 per cent membership.
As such a large proportion of its income depends on contracts with local authorities, Community Care has to keep them satisfied. There are two directly competing not-for-profit organizations in the south ofEnglandand Community Care is losing business to them, mainly because its clients do not believe they are getting the same value for money. In other words, Community Care has a performance problem.
There is a somewhat moribund performance appraisal scheme in headquarters. In the regions the team leaders conduct ‘supervisions’ with care workers to review progress and deal with case issues. These supervisions could be regarded as a type of appraisal but there is no formal process for reviewing performance in the round (supervisions concentrate on casework) or for identifying development or performance improvement needs.
The HR director appreciated the strategic need to improve performance and her recommendation to the chief executive that a comprehensive process of performance management should be introduced was accepted. She decided two things in advance: first that she needed external advice, and second that the performance management process should be developed by a joint working party, chaired by herself, consisting of the directors of fund-raising and finance, a regional manager, a care team leader, two care assistants, two members of headquarters department and two trade union representatives. It was a rather large and unwieldy group but she thought it was essential to make it reasonably representative. These proposals were agreed by the chief executive. Also with the agreement of the chief executive she engaged an independent consultant as an adviser following a ‘beauty contest’.
The HR director and the external consultant produced a document to be communicated to all staff that set out the purpose of the project. They then held preliminary discussions with each member of the working group either individually or, in the case of the trade union representatives, together. The directors not on the working party (the chief executive, the director of operations and the development director) were also consulted, as were some additional staff in the regions and at headquarters. The aim was to identify in advance any issues that might be brought up by the working party. Some people, especially the trade union representatives, were suspicious of this procedure as they felt it might pre-empt or undermine the deliberations of the working party. The HR director tried to allay these fears by explaining that the aim was simply to ensure that the background to the development project was fully understood and that the information obtained from this preliminary survey would mean that the working party would be better prepared for its deliberations. She promised to brief the working party on the outcome of the interviews at its first meeting. The union representatives and one or two managers were not entirely convinced by this but made no further comments.
The survey established that the need to do something about performance was generally accepted and that the existing performance appraisal scheme in headquarters had to be replaced. The chief executive was supportive. He was familiar with performance management in his previous job as the director of a local authority social services department. He believed that in principle the aim should be primarily developmental and that the process should be based on performance agreements, the review of performance against agreed objectives and a competency framework, the agreement of performance and personal development plans, and the use of learning contracts.
But there were a number of issues:
● The finance director suggested that the requirements for performance management varied between different functions, for example the context in regional care operations was quite different from that in fund-raising – while there should be a set of agreed basic principles on the approach to be followed, each function could decide for itself the details of the scheme, such as the type of records to be kept, whether or not to use ratings, and how often reviews should take place.
● The fund-raising director wanted a system based on target setting and overall ratings that could be used as the basis for a performance-related pay or bonus scheme (at present pay progression was based entirely on service).
● The operations director and a number of regional directors said that they saw no real need for a performance management scheme – the existing system of supervisions fulfilled this purpose quite adequately.
● Directors and managers universally said that they did not want an over-bureaucratic system.
● The staff who were consulted were doubtful about the ability and, indeed, inclination of their team leaders or managers to conduct performance management reviews.
● The trade union representatives said that they were concerned that the scheme would be used simply as a means of generating information upon which disciplinary action could be based; they thought managers would have favourites and would not be able to conduct fair appraisals; and they were strongly against any form of rating or performance-related pay.
If you were the HR director, how would you deal with each of the issues mentioned above in the working party meetings or elsewhere? Where appropriate, prepare arguments for and against the various points of view and indicate your own views on the subject.