Performance Appraisals

 

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

  1.       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

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11 Responses to Performance Appraisals

  1. icydragon88 says:

    Hey I think your blog post was very informing. I myself is a leader (army) and I know a little about performance reviews because I can get them all the time from my commander! In the army we call these performance reviews “evaluation reports,” where my commander rates our performance as a leader throughout the semester and then tells us what we are doing good in and what needs improving. Officially, we get those once a semester, but on a daily basis, I get my evaluation everyday because I am the one in charge of planning PT (exercise workouts) daily. Everyday after PT, my commander would brief me on what he liked about my plan and what needs improving. I do agree with you that a “coaching” standpoint will help you develop as a leader everyday because you will always learn from your mistakes. I do believe doing performance reviews once a year is a waste of time mainly because half the stuff your boss tells you that you did wrong, you might not remember it if it happened 8 months ago. Good blog!

    • appraiser says:

      @icydragon88
      I am glad you found my blog interesting, in fact while researching I found many articles where military has done a fine job when it comes “evaluation reports”, makes me wonder what would it take for corporates to adapt to a similiar model.
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts

  2. alynne says:

    Hi, I found your post to be quite interesting as I just started my first internship a few weeks ago. Although I have never had a performance review of any sort really, I agree with the direction you are headed. I look at my boss right now as a coach, since I’m not being paid. She has been very helpful in teaching me everything that is expected as well as everything that she does and how she does it. I think the relationship between boss’s and employees are parallel when it boils down to tasks and performances. After all, your boss is supposed to be someone who is encouraging who you respect and someone you want to look up to. If you see your boss always working hard, or coming up with new ideas to solve problems, or doing anything really that is of good nature, that will make employees want to do the same. If the boss is lazy and doesn’t interact with his/her employees, it would surprise me if the employees were slacking. I think it would be great if employees and bosses were able to give each other feedback, and have more of a collaborative approach to how something should be done. I gave my boss a new idea on how we should track the number of people that were going to attend the next event, and she thought it was a great idea, and incorporated it into the registration form. Although I’m not sure how this would go over in a more corporate environment, or with a boss who has more than 1 or 2 employees.
    Also, I agree that having a yearly appraisal is ineffective. It is just going to make people mad. By the time the end of the year comes, what you’ve done earlier in the year will barely be remembered, and what will stick out is what your doing now, or what you have been in the past few months. What if January happened to be an outstanding month for whatever reason. I think if companies do give appraisals, it should be done at least quarterly. This way you get recognition for the things you’ve been doing well, but it also gives you a chance to correct what you might not be doing so well before it is too late. I think they are a good tool, but they do need to be adjusted to make them more useful. They won’t seem so life/job threatening if there done more than once a year, and they will encourage employees to make changes before the next quarter is over. Recognition and sense of accomplishment is an important part of success. I liked your post and what you had to say about yearly reviews. It is especially useful as I said before, I just got an internship, and these things are interesting to me as I am just entering a work environment. Hopefully I will get hired at the end!

    • appraiser says:

      @alynne
      Congratulations on your internship and am happy you enjoyed reading this blog, my 2 Cents while on internship, dont work too hard, keep it simple , focus on the expercience your are drawing thats priceless.
      Good luck

  3. Sean McCarey says:

    I agree with you that performance reviews are a good tool to use and I also agree with you when you said that it needs to be altered. Like the last person to comment, I am in the military and we get reviews periodically. I luckily have the type of commander that will sit down with you and go over everything with you, but like you said at the beginning of your blog, I still tend to leave confused. I feel that reason I do in my circumstance is because he has been places and seen things in combat that I have yet to see, so its harder for him to relate to a college kids experiences. However, in the business I think it would be different and would be easier for a boss to relate and work with the employee and not work above them. Overall I really enjoyed this blog and your thoughts on this subject.

  4. johneaglestar says:

    apprasier, I like your use of visuals to help get your point across. I was wondering what model of review do you think is the most effective. I understand as a leader sometimes you are a coach and sometimes a mentor and other times you are the jury. How do you place all of those hats you have to wear at any one time. Do you strictly keep a professional relationship with your employees or do you drink beer with them at the end of work? As a coach do you take notes of individual’s work or is it group based outcomes. Do you hold a project manager to the same responsibility as a recent employee? What are some of the performance measures you as the coach look for?

    • appraiser says:

      @johneaglestar
      Personally my take is using a coaching model is most effective where you boss and employee are partners. Boss still needs to maintain some facade as he/she are the link between top mgmt and employees. I would give recent employee little more latitude ;I think its important to help them adapt to the work culture, I find dropping one liner appreciation of work very effective that allows me to induce some constructive criticism when needed.
      Thanks for your comments

  5. acampbell says:

    Reviewing employees at the end of the year is not most enjoyable task. I was wondering if, while reviewing employees, you have ever had a “review gone bad”. In our class, we discuss a lot about ethics in the work place and how to go about handling certain situations when they take a turn for the worse. Have you ever had an employee get upset about the review they received? If so, how did you handle the situation? What were the circumstances?

    • appraiser says:

      @acampbell
      Yes I have had instances where reviews have gone south, lesson learnt was “Communicate”, I like to solicit feedback from employees on regular basis ask some good questions; that avoids outbursts to a certain extent. Still there could be cases where things will go worst, usually in such cases I prefer someone from HR to be present, because not all problems can be solved by ourselves and we need some professional help in handling such situations.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  6. deirdhre says:

    Reviewing employees is not always easy and may be a rather tedious task. However, honesty is always the best policy. Communication is key. It is extremely important in all aspects of life. Whether it is a job or a marriage, we are slowly losing the ability to communicate. We talk on the phone less and text more. I bring this up because I think we are in a society that is sometimes afraid to say how we feel. Telling eachother our likes and dislikes, is easier said then done. Everyone has their own opinion. I believe this has to do with your post because we tend to sugar coat things. We sometimes don’t want to hurt eachother’s feelings, but if you are not doing your job, isn’t it better to be honest? I think so, body language is certainly important because even though someone says one thing their body language can say something else. Being able to communicate definitely relies on the ability that you understand what is being asked of you. If you do not understand what is being asked, then it may be hard to do the task at hand. This can sometimes screw up your performance and impact your work ability, effecting your proficiency at the task that you are trying to accomplish. This is why it is crucial to ask questions. If you don’t understand, don’t hesitate to ask, it can only help you in the long run and may even save you your job.

  7. ckumka says:

    Considering how late I’m posting this blog I’ve read through what others have said and what appraiser replied. I found the brief response about an internship to stick out to me at this point in time, considering I am currently doing an internship. Everyone tells me it’s such a great experience and a great place to gain knowledge/contacts, however I enjoyed the style idea of “don’t sweat it”. Appraiser made it significant to don’t sweat the small stuff, since it truly is all about the experience.

    In response to the actual blog, having a father who is a manager of a corporation I have grown up around the manager/employee lifestyle from a different perspective of most. To me, I hate filling out those evals of fellow group members, because if they were a important part of a company, chances are they’d be fired if they were performing as poorly as they get graded by theirs peers. Chances are group members are usually nicer than he/she should be, and give a high evaluation of others. I do believe having open communication is a important aspect to a successful company, nevertheless those whom lack pulling their own weight tend to fall, while those who should be there strive.

    Overall, I found your blog to be unique incomparison to what others had to say. I appreciate all your helpful advice!

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