Managing performance: Case studies of Hitachi and RCN

Performance management is a systematic process for improving organisational performance by developing the performance of individuals and teams. It is a means of getting better results from the organisation, teams and individuals by understanding and managing performance within an agreed framework of planned goals, standards and competence requirements. Processes exist for establishing shared understanding about what is to be achieved, and for managing and developing people in a way which increases the probability that it will be achieved in the short and longer term. It is owned and driven by line management.   

HR and reward people generally believe that performance management is a good thing as a means of improving performance, developing and rewarding people and aligning individual and corporate objectives – line managers are not always so sure. And whilst it’s a common people management process, it’s also one of the most difficult to implement effectively. E-reward has therefore undertaken an in-depth, case-history research project, covering five very different organisations, on every aspect of performance management to find out more about its application in today's organisations.

Our research is published in three parts. Here, in part one, we examine the experience of Hitachi and the Royal College of Nursing. The concluding parts in this project will be published in forthcoming issues of our research report series.

Hitachi Europe

Employee nos. (UK): 450.

Location(s): Maidenhead.

Business activities: Primarily a consumer electronics manufacturing company but UK operations solely concerned with sales and marketing.

Royal College of Nursing

Employee nos. (UK): 800.

Location: Head office in London, regional offices nationwide.

Business activities: The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) is the representative body for nurses in the UK. It has 380,000 members in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.




  • The performance management cycle

  • Performance planning

  • Objectives

  • Development Planning Discussion

  • Training not always the best option

  • Interim reviews

  • Consistency

  • Line managers and training

  • Link to bonus scheme but not directly to pay

  • Evaluating effectiveness

  • A final word


  • New HR director impetus for change

  • Performance management annual cycle

  • What appraisals cover

  • Preparing for appraisal

  • The appraisal meeting

  • Objective setting

  • Identifying development needs

  • Career planning and succession planning

  • After the appraisal

  • New online system trialled

  • Training

  • Performance management masterclasses

  • Management development

  • Future and other new measures

  • Early signs of improvement

  • A final word


  • Document 1: Hitachi Europe – Introduction to the Performance and Development Planning Process

  • Document 2: Royal College of Nursing - RCN Appraisal: Guidance

  • Document 3: Royal College of Nursing - Appraisal Preparation Form

  • Document 4: Royal College of Nursing - Appraisal Form


  • Box 2.1: About the RCN

  • Box 2.2: RCN annual cycle

  • Box 2.3: RCN appraisal process

  • Box 2.4: Diagram of RCN online appraisal process