The “Wish List” was the name employees gave for the Performance Review process at a major insurance company where my friend worked. At the beginning of each year, employees set or were given a list of objectives to accomplish by year end. This “Wish List” then went into the person’s desk drawer, only to be looked at again shortly before the end of the performance year, because the person’s Performance Review was coming up. Sound familiar? This is just one of the problems that occurs when companies rely on objectives as their criteria for evaluating performance in their Performance Review Programs. Performance Reviews have long been a source of unhappiness for both managers and employees. Some companies. however. are starting to change their process, even eliminating the year-end evaluation and instead, having managers provide ongoing feedback to employees during the performance year. If your goal is to get the best possible performance from your people, these are certainly step in the right direction but here are some additional suggestions to make process even more effective. 1. Eliminate the final performance evaluation and its tie to compensation. This changes the tone and quality of meetings the employee and manager have throughout the year. It makes them more effective by eliminating any incentive for the employee to “lowball” or set easy objectives. Without that incentive, employees will be more willing to take ownership of and set objectives that are more difficult and have greater risk. This simple change increases employees’ motivation and has a dramatic impact upon the results they achieve. Doing away with the final evaluation also builds flexibility into the process by allow the manager and employee to change the objective when conditions change that are outside the control of the employee. Currently when that happens, the organizational response tends to be “Sorry, but those are the breaks," because they fear that this will be used as an excuse to lower the bar when an objective hasn’t been met. Just imagine the impact of this response on the motivation of the employee much less the credibility of the Performance Review process when conditions have changed. 2. The meeting between the manager and employee at the beginning of the performance year is critical. This is where they establish a flexible “contract” or framework for the upcoming year. This contract has three components: • What results should the employee accomplish during the year and how are they aligned with the results the manager is responsible for achieving. • What behavior should the employee continue or change during the year? • What actions will the manager take to support what the employee’s is trying to accomplish (either a result or change in behavior) Part of this initial framework includes how often the manager and employee agree to meet to check on the status of attainment of objectives, and discuss any changes in behavior that they have agreed upon. What’s working?,,,What’s not working?...What does the employee need to do differently to meet a particular objective?...What additional resources and support does the employee need from the manager? 3. Make the employee responsible for scheduling these meetings, and taking any notes. Employees need to take ownership of their own performance…the sooner. the better. Too often we hear that employees want more performance feedback. My question is, “What prevents them for asking for it? Isn’t that what adults do?..Take action to meet their own needs?" At the end of the performance year, the employee and manager meet to recap the year. This should be a learning experience for both parties addressing the question of “What have we learned that we can use going forward?” 4. The employee maintains the only record of these meetings. They aren’t sent to HR or kept in anyone’s personnel file. They aren’t kept by the manager because that makes them the property of the company.Why is this important? Just knowing that sometime in the future another manager could see these records distorts the interaction between the manager and employee in the present….just as giving “constructive” feedback in public is counter-productive. In response to the common complaint, ‘We need these records to support terminating poor performers.” ...that’s nonsense. 90% of the time when a manager wants to terminate an employee and goes to the person’s previous appraisals all they find are glowing reviews. Now they’re left with information that conflicts with the action they want to take. The answer here is simple, when an employee’s performance deteriorates to a level where a manager is considering termination, the manager works with HR to remove the person from the above Performance Review process and they go onto a Performance Improvement Plan or PIP. That should give you all the documentation you need.
In Parts 1 & 2, I explored why the word “change” tends to have a negative emotional connotation and I introduced a systems perspective as a way of looking at resistance to change.Energy and Perseverance Organizational change is all about positive energy and finding a new internal balance that enables companies to function more effectively. This requires leaders to create and sustain a critical mass of energy to outlast the system’s natural defensive reaction to the perceived threat to its current dysfunctional balance. Most leaders don’t understand this, and they’re not prepared for the frustration they experience. The harder they push, the harder the organization pushes back, resulting in the expenditure of a tremendous amount of energy with little movement. And since followers far outnumber leaders, they have a lot more energy. (read more)
How Come We Keep Doing the Same Thing When We Know It Doesn’t Work? According to a 2010 survey by Sibson Consulting Inc. and WorldatWork, a professional association, one academic review of more than 600 employee-feedback studies found that two-thirds of appraisals had zero or even negative effects on employee performance after the feedback was given. Here we go again, folks. It’s that time of the year. For companies whose fiscal year corresponds to the calendar year, managers will soon begin writing up their evaluations of employee performance for 2015 and get ready to review them with the person. And despite all the studies and research showing how counter-productive the review process is, and how much both managers and employees feel that the process is a waste of both time and energy, companies continue to hang on to the same old approach.
Part 2 of a 2-part article In Part 1, we discussed the four basic steps in the Managing by Objectives (MBO) process and how each step can lead to positive organizational results. In Part 2 we discuss why the MBO process should not be used to evaluate employee performance, however, and how doing so undermines the value of the process.
I had a wrestling coach who once told me “You don’t have that much potential, but you can make up for it with hard work.” I’m still trying to figure out how that works. It was right after a match……despite being tired and sweaty, I remember thinking, “Huh?...Doesn’t potential kinda set the ceiling?” The funny thing about this incident is that my coach was trying to encourage me; I shudder to think what he might have said otherwise. Luckily I had no illusions about my l wrestling capabilities; I’d always been somewhat of an over-achiever so the impact of his statement about my potential was minimal. I just loved the sport; it’s probably one of the most natural sports for a little boy growing up?