The intentions contained in a high performance strategy will include the development and application of HR practices, which it is believed will result in high performance. Typically, these will include performance management, reward management (eg performance pay and recognition schemes), talent management, and learning and development programmes. These are, of course, standard HR practices. The difference provided by a high performance system is that these practices are bundled together so that they support one another and make a greater impact on performance as an integrated whole. Ashton and Sung (2002) noted that HPWS practices may be more effective when they are grouped together in ‘bundles’. For example, the isolated use of quality circles is not as effective as when the practice is supported by wider employee involvement/empowerment practices.
A number of lists of HPWS practices have been produced as set out in Table 10.1. These lists have certain items in common, such as some form of incentive rewards and performance appraisal or feedback, but there is considerable variation. Gephart (1995) notes that research has not clearly identified any single set of high performance practices.
Such lists reflect a ‘best practice’ or ‘universalistic’ viewpoint and Sung and Ashton (2005: 8) comment that: ‘It would be wrong to seek one magic list. After all, it is quite possible to replace one practice with another practice, or with combinations of other practices that deliver the same results’. However, it may be reasonable to assume that, in essence, some practices are desirable, although the form they take in a particular organization must take account of the context of that organization. For example, some form of performance management system may be worth having, which might include such features as the joint agreement of performance goals, feedback and reviews. But
how these features are applied will vary according to the organization’s circumstances.