It's time to evaluate what is going wrong in your performance management system. Perhaps it is time to revamp your Performance Management System or introduce one that works.
"The productivity of work is not the responsibility of the worker but of the manager."
Performance appraisals are directed at creating a tool for accurately assessing an employee’s performance at work and to use it as an evaluating system to advance the functioning of the organisation. These tools are most often used by managers as an annual employee review tool. Herein however, lies the problem: it creates a large gap for a number of human errors, biases and weaknesses as well as problems with the performance appraisal and its process. Although some managers understand the underlying principle for appraisals, some view appraisals as a burden, as does some employees. As such, in some cases performance appraisals are executed so poorly that they may actually cause more harm than good to the individual and the organisation.
Performance discussions can be PAINFUL for both manager and employee, but doing away with it will do more harm than good. Below are some guidelines to ensure that you get the most business success out to these discussions with the least amount of pain. Spending all the hours preparing and conducting these discussions must ensure some return on investment and is not intended to just be a top down deadline you have to meet.
Although performance appraisals are so often dreaded by managers and subordinates alike, their value is often overlooked. Having an open and honest conversation may bring some nervous energy but here are some reasons why you should change your mind about the process and see the positive side.
1. Employees know how they are doing (and where they need to focus more energy)
It’s simple: we want to know how we are performing and we crave honest feedback. If we know in what areas we are performing well- we can maintain our standard of performance. Acknowledging and rewarding those good habits is likely to reinforce that behaviour. Without being aware of the areas in which people fall below the expected standard, they are unable to see the reason for changing their approach.
2. It facilitates an open dialogue and more effective relationship between managers and subordinates
Regularly scheduled meetings with subordinates mean that there is specific time set aside for managers to connect with their subordinates. Open channels of communication foster a healthy relationship between leaders and their team. Performance management can easily be done consistently. As a manager, congratulating your staff on meeting deadlines or saying "Well done" after a successful presentation also form part of the performance management process. If this relationship between managers and staff is established, grievances can be shared in a less formal manner and conflict can potentially be resolved more quickly. It can also provide a space for subordinates to share their ideas and make suggestions for more innovative practices.
3. It can pave the way for a career development discussion
If employees know that their development is important to their manager, they are likely to feel more valued and satisfied in their job. Showing employees opportunities for growth within the company can help to retain talent as well. Not only can this meeting serve to meet their need for approval and acknowledgement but it can also be a great time to align individual goals with bigger organizational objectives. Remember, true leaders do not create followers, they create more leaders. The development of your subordinates should be a primary focus.
4. Performance appraisals helps managers document performance
Without measurement, there is no management. Without documentation of performance records it is difficult to keep track and provide proof of training needs or learning interventions. Documentation and record keeping can help provide support for various disciplinary procedures. This also forms an objective reference for follow-up discussions.
If we keep the ultimate objectives in mind for performance appraisals, we can successfully eliminate the discomfort and dread that so often surrounds them. Approaching this task as a necessary maintenance tool as well as a positive intervention could change your organisation’s attitude towards these discussions.
For further reading:
Harris, N (2009): Why do we need an appraisal? accessed from http://www.jobs.ac.uk/careers-advice/careers-advice/1349/why-do-we-need-an-appraisal
Hamlet, C (Demand Media): Why are performance evaluations important? accessed from http://smallbusiness.chron.com/performance-evaluations-important-1265.html
About the author: Kirsten Helm completed her Industrial Psychology Honours degree in 2010. She is a qualified Psychometrist (Independent Practice) and works as a Talent Management Consultant and Psychometrist for Competence SA. She has extensive experience in head hunting for the FMCG industry. She also feels that honest feedback is the foundation for true development and growth.