Making…..Performance…..Appraisals…..a Positive Experience
Leadershfreak welcomes guest blogger Sean Conrad. Thanks Sean.
For a lot of people, performance appraisals are a negative experience, because we are being judged by another. But you could change the whole experience and improve its business value simply by changing the focus. The goal should be to encourage and inspire people to be their best, rather than to critique, rate and rank them.
Here are some ways you can do that:
In order to change, we need to know ourselves and our deep motivations. By making performance journaling and self-assessments a part of your performance appraisal process, you encourage employees to deepen their self-knowledge, and support growth and change.
Foster Personal Development
Development plans should focus on enhancing an employee’s experience and expertise – preparing them for career advancement, not just addressing “performance gaps”.
Keep Records of Successes
Invite employees to reflect on why they excelled in a particular area. What were the “conditions” that supported their success? Consciously understanding what we need to be our best helps us to “recreate” those conditions, supporting our success.
Take the Focus Off the Ratings
If we want performance appraisals to be a positive experience, we need to focus on self-awareness and growth, not the ratings. Invite the employee to identify:
- What successes they had
- What contributed to their success
- Skills/areas they would like to further develop
- Things they need to support their performance and success
The manager’s role should be to coach and support, not judge. To encourage this, you can do away with numerical ratings altogether, or move to a simplified 2 or 3 point scale.
Employee performance appraisals don’t have to be a dreaded task. With the right positive focus and approach, they can be a powerful tool for nurturing self-awareness, development and high performance.
What do you think? Do you have any other suggestions for making performance appraisals a positive experience? What things help you to improve your performance?
Sean Conrad is a Senior Product Specialist at Halogen Software, one of the leading providers of talent management solutions. For more of his insights on talent management, read his posts on the Halogen blog, and to learn more about best practices visit Halogen’s Talent Management Centers of Excellence.
Performance appraisal can be made more transparent by setting individual key result areas. Appraiser has to stick to those KRAs and measure improvement. In the process of performance appraisal, perception plays a major role. Perception created by other people, appraiser itself etc. So, to neutralize perception, appraiser has to rely on outcomes and situations. He has to be unbiased,upfront and believe in himself or herself. Today, people usually dont feel happy when process is on because they are not sure whether their real efforts will be counted or not. The role of appraiser is to create trust and confidence among the appraisees so that they can share their thoughts, ideas, insights and personal reflection. Sometimes, I think, performance appraisal should be on line. Perform and insert data. There should be a mechanism, where every efforts, output, outcomes and other activities are measurable so that no one can fiddle or influence the process.
Today, performance reviews are tied to pay raises, promotions and other external rewards. These need to be disconnected. This is more commonly accepted now throughout workplaces.
Ultimately, when what I think about myself and my performance matters more to my career and self esteem than what my boss thinks – we will be able to do away with such exercises in futility.
For a review to be effective it needs to be self-reflection as a start and end point. The manager only needs to be involved to guide the self discovery process. I agree, the manager’s role should be to coach not critique. And it should use Dan Pink’s book “Drive” as a starting point for assessing Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose. The three core motivations.
But I disagree with the assumption that it will automatically make business results better. The process needs to ask the question “How well did your performance meet the needs of the business?” In order for the critical ‘measure up’ factor to be relevant. Of course – this means the need of the business has to be defined before you begin work. You have to know what you will be reviewed upon or you will fail.
Personally, I also think that fostering personal development is a task best done daily – through mentoring, not annually – through coaching. Here’s why: In my experience mentoring Data Center Operators to become System Engineers, the process took years. The first important step was to gain the respect and acceptance of the Engineering tribe. I mentored team members on the importance of being mindful of this throughout their daily work.
It was very effective. Except for the one Operator that was laid off with me – the rest of my team are all now System Engineers, as planned 🙂
This is a great post, I have always thought that the way performance appraisals are implemented have some inherited flaws.
Do we really model and motivate the valuable employees and managers, or we are just using performance appraisals as tools for justifying filling training programs, cutting on pay raises, issuing promotions, and terminations.
With my limited experience, i found that the self motivated people are the once who dislike performance appraisals the most, and yet they are the best people to count on in difficult times, and they are the ones who take the extra mile and move things forward.
The four points that Dan proposed here are great, and very useful in retaining and motivating employees and managers most valuable to the business.
Direct managers need to as Alan stated “gain the respect and acceptance” and also as Ajay said “create trust and confidence” especially the trust that their managers will always act with best interest for them and the business in mind, managers need to investigate the following:
– What turn their people on to contribute more
– What their realistic aspiration regarding professional and financial development.
– Are they ready to do what it takes, and what their competence and perception gap for achieving what they want
– Are we -as an organization- have the space and help for them?
I agree with Ajay that “there should be a mechanism, where every efforts, output, outcomes and other activities are measurable” maybe also keeping a record by a every manager for every report at any level to record conclusions of every meeting or agreement formal or informal, and follow up on summary of results, sometimes good attitude people may blind managers on their real efforts on improving their competence or meeting deadlines, this will be also useful for tracking plans and results for business and people!
Performance appraisals are good only if the appraisors have the basic objectivity in mind and are keen to develop their subordinates by way of motivation and the personal coaching. Moreover, it’s serious exercise since it is a question of someone’s career and further growth. It requires good amount of time where many bosses fail to invest their time.
It’s a management tool and to make it more effective one should have a defined role, planned KRAs and the mechanism with which the results can be measurable. In most cases, the basic objective behind this exrecise is lost. Bosses never do justice in evaluating their staff since they have pre-conceived ideas or impression of the staff and are carried away with subjective elements.
I am in full agreement that self-motivated people find it as a useless execise since it finally leads to disagreements on ratings and the scores that would decide monetary benefits.
Things can work better if bosses are good and progressive in nature. It can work as a good developmental tool. All depends on the prevailing work culture and the systems to monitor performance. It also reflects the quality of management and HR’s initiatives to make members of the staff much more productive with cohesive and collaborative approach.
Nice Post Sean good work. Gee Dan you must know some clever people (:
I like all of what you have here, I would just add the major failings I see are because people confuse Performance management which happens all the time with performance reviews which are annual or 6 monthly. Managers need to be tuned in to Sean’s framework but realize they must live and apply it most everyday. Thanks for the post I’ll integrate some of it into my training/ practice. Regards Richard (Now Dan stop watching the golf and getting others to do your work!!)
I’d add: Don’t do it once a year…do it every day.
Wow, will take a while to absorb all these excellent points, thanks all!
I would add, if doing a ‘formal’ appraisal
1) neutral turf–not your office, not her/his office, maybe even off site…keeps the power differential more balanced.
2) celebrate, typically these are done tied to a specific time period-hire date, year of service, etc. If you are locked into that structure, make it a time to celebrate and appreciate that person’s time with you and the organization.
3) flip it, (in advance) indicate that part of the performance review is how am I doing as leader with that person. Needs specific questions and examples…same as identifying the appraisee’s strengths and developmental opportunities. Ask when have I gotten in the way of this person’s work, when have I caused delays, when have I not served well as leader. And of course the positives too. This too balances the power and shows that you as a leader need to keep learning and improving.
4) ensure that there is time for future planning and once done, get specific on how to achieve those plans. That is energizing.
5) Commit to (and follow through) on providing (and asking for) feedback more often.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I really appreciate your efforts and I am waiting for your next write
ups thank you once again.