Annual Performance Evaluations-Creating the Partnership
Ask managers how they feel about annual employee performance reviews, and most of them will tell you it's a responsibility that's not on their favorites list. For some, the delivery of the annual performance discussion has "stand alone status" as the one task most would choose to avoid. As a result, some of us tend to delay the process, waiting for the right time to address a year's worth of employee performance feedback. What if there was a way to shift the appraisal process from performance measurement to performance partnership - based on a meeting of like minds?
• During a traditional performance evaluation, employees are often concerned that the outcome of the meeting determines their performance rating for the entire year. They worry that their career track with the company hinges solely on annual evaluation results.
• On the supervisory side of the equation, managers may also worry about the possible workplace fallout from a less than positive employee performance review.
• Managers sometimes feel they must engineer and deliver performance feedback, improvement guidelines, goal setting and individual training agendas all in one formal evaluation package that is conducted once a year. Tough criteria to meet, whether you have supervisory responsibilities for one employee or twenty.
• The element of surprise complicates the process even further. Employees who are evaluated once a year are often taken aback at the feedback they receive. They're surprised because they're hearing it for the first time.
Further polarizing the process, many organizations continue to pair performance evaluations with once-a-year compensation adjustments. This contributes to the likelihood of employees being distracted by practical thoughts of how the evaluation will impact their livelihood.
These are all good reasons to take another look at the traditional employee evaluation process. More effective is to view the performance evaluation as a way to invest in sustainable employee development while ensuring dynamic organizational growth. While that may sound like an overwhelming undertaking, in reality, it is a cultural shift that will ensure improved people management, higher efficiency and measurable bottom line results.
Partnering with employees to map out their developmental goals, while designing up-front agreements on how to achieve those goals creates effective performance partnerships with accountability on both sides. The supervisor/manager moves from judge-evaluator to advocate-mentor and the employee takes active responsibility for his/her own development mapping.
Here are some best practices to ensure that the evaluation process in your organization stays focused on employee development. Remove the emphasis from the evaluation and spotlight the developmental goals of each employee.
• First, review, evaluate and clarify all job descriptions. Complete this procedure for each position in your business. Make sure every job description is an accurate documentation of the duties and required competencies for individual jobs.
• Collaborate with employees to establish the key responsibilities and standards of performance for each job. These employee agreements will serve as the performance benchmarks for each job description.
• Develop time specific goals for each employee. The employee should participate in the goal development process and will need to agree to the goals and the timeline for completion. Discuss how the goals support the organization's strategic plan.
• Increase the frequency of progress discussions. Managers need to make time to discuss developmental goals and progress with employees on a quarterly basis at a minimum. Managers need to hear how their employees are doing, and employees need to hear their managers ask.
• Separate performance feedback from compensation discussions. Build a boundary around performance feedback. It is a subject devoted to employee development. Conversations regarding compensation can be conducted at a different time and place.
• Maintain a procedure for tracking employee progress. Keep and file notes from feedback sessions with employees. Take time to record the challenges, requested improvements and successes. Management diligence in this area will provide an accurate gauge for tracking employee development. It will also establish relevance for future goal discussions.
• Practice the art of availability. Be available to your direct reports. Make it easy for them to seek you out for discussions. This can be as easy as establishing Friday afternoons as a "what's on your mind" time. Encourage your employees to share their victories as well as their concerns.
When performance feedback and developmental planning occurs regularly for all employees, individual performance goals then support the overall goals of the entire organization. This shift in focus to a developmental based performance management system will result in partnerships with long range benefits for all.
Melissa McDaniel is the Director of Human Resources Consulting for the firm's MKSH People division. We maximize human capital opportunities for our clients through customized workforce strategy implementation and effective leadership training. For more information on how our human capital experts can create powerful performance drivers for your people and your business, please contact Melissa at 301-662-2400 or via email at email@example.com .