Performance Appraisals – Time to Change
Holidays are almost here most of us are already wrapping up our deliverables be it school or work and getting into the festive mood ;there is one thing I am sure most of us hate doing i.e. “Performance Appraisals”! It’s a ritual that we as leaders are equally guilty practicing. I am not saying performance reviews are bad, I think everyone appreciates a need for having a formal document that can be used as a tool by the employee and employer in developing a Win-Win relationship but this tool has evolved more into mandatory ritual which most of the times does more harm than good. It started out as a tool for legal and HR departments to measure and track progress of the company and its employees.
It absolutely makes no sense to me to set “Smart Objectives” in the beginning of the year and at the end you are held accountable to your boss to discuss what was met and what wasn’t. In fact study shows although all the objectives were met the employee comes out of the meeting even more confused. It appears the culture we develop in school where there is an active feedback between a professor and student almost becomes one –way the moment we enter the corporate world.
Rather than beating a dead horse I would like to use this forum to discuss solutions that we as employees and future leaders can do now. Using the techniques we learnt with our leadership and communication class there are a couple things that we can change at the grass roots level
- Accountability and Transparency
In today’s dynamic world a relationship between boss and their employees can longer be assumed to be like a pyramid where the boss sets the rules of the game and acts as a referee as well. In fact a leader’s success is more dependent on the employees that report to him, similarly manager’s success directly translates into employees feeling a sense of achievement. Today a boss unknowingly plays a dual role that of a manager and a coach; someone who can get the work done and ensure employees develop their career. Instead of a top down approach what if we tilt the pyramid sideways; make the review process more collaborative, where both employee and boss gets an opportunity to exchange reviews. Many companies have adopted this style where a boss is considered as a partner as at the end of the day employees and managers are equal partners in crime. This makes both of them more accountable and allows the culture of bringing transparency in an organization. Transparency is something that’s difficult and at times a pain; it also makes sense that managers don’t disclose some of the key numbers as it might negatively affect the team’s performance but sharing each other’s objectives and working together to achieve the same automatically transforms a managing relationship into coaching.
2. Take an adaptive approach
One of the common mistakes we make is use a one size fits all approach, I can’t fathom the fact how can one performance review model be used to track progress of sales department and quality control. On an average one puts in 2000 Hrs of work in a year, from this we allocate may be an hour or two in performance reviews Does it make sense ?
A review loses its value if done at the end of the year where majority of the tasks have already been executed hence for some reason if things were off track we leave no opportunity to correct; in fact in most of the cases we shift gears from task execution to damage control. I think we as leaders need to exercise using review as a coaching tool more often, instead of having a one to two hour session at the end of the year I think it adds value to have this coaching sessions every quarterly where managers and their employees assess their accomplishments and if needed change course, adapt and create a culture where performance reviews are held informally that nurtures growth of the company rather than an activity that managers do it just because they are told to and employees do it because they have no other choice.
At the end I think having reviews is a good tool, it does add certain level of accountability but it needs to be altered and we as leaders have to figure out a way to inject some constructive feedback.
By the way if you have time please read “Get Rid of the Performance Review!” By Samuel Culbert with Lawrence Rout