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Is Performance Appraisal: Salary Justification or Employee Development?

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Is Performance Appraisal: Salary Justification or Employee Development?

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Is Performance Appraisal: Salary Justification or Employee Development?
I was coaching a mid-level executive last week and we together reviewed his performance appraisal document that had just been given to him by his boss. In fact, his performance appraisal was anything but an appraisal of his performance!

Is Performance Appraisal: Salary Justification or Employee Development?
I was coaching a mid-level executive last week and we together reviewed his performance appraisal document that had just been given to him by his boss. In fact, his performance appraisal was anything but an appraisal of his performance!

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Is Performance Appraisal: Salary Justification or Employee Development?

  1. 1. Is Performance Appraisal: Salary Justification or Employee Development? Rex Gatto Ph.D., BCC Leadership Question? Is Performance Appraisal: Salary Justification or Employee Development? I was coaching a mid-level executive last week and we together reviewed his performance appraisal document that had just been given to him by his boss. In fact, his performance appraisal was anything but an appraisal of his performance! What have performance appraisals turned into? • Ways to justify the distribution money, • A play it safe approach by not giving too high or too low a rating, • A once-a-year necessity, a drudgery for the boss and employee • A justification game that organizations have to play • An untruth based on taking a 5-point scale that turns into a 3-point scale Why do organizations feel the need to give performance appraisals? It is a way to review employee performance, a set time for employees and boss to have the awkward and sometimes uncomfortable discussion about performance. Why don’t performance appraisals work?
  2. 2. If a performance appraisal or feedback process is to work, it needs to be more than a once-a-year meeting. A once-a-year discussion of performance is not meaningful nor will it change behaviors. Rather, it is just an organizational or corporate game used to justify something in the workplace, usually money distribution. If a performance appraisal were to be meaningful, what would need to take place? • First there would be a mechanism to give continual feedback on a daily, weekly, and ongoing basis. It would not be a dedicated once a year drudgery. • High performers want to be recognized for the workplace situational accomplishments, actual work results, effort, teamwork, leadership and followership, and what they bring to the workplace to fulfill job responsibilities. • Employees deserve to have performance appraisals that are truthful, meaningful, and supportive of their work performance, not once-a-year justifications for money distribution. • A performance appraisal should not be a play safe rating based on an artificial Bell Curve established by a person of authority. If the best employees are hired, and they work to capacity, they would not fit in a forced distribution such as a Classic Bell Curve. Deming’s Employee Development Points 1. Edwards Deming, the quality guru who General MacArthur brought to Japan after WWII to rebuild manufacturing, wrote 14 Points for Total Quality Management, 8 of which apply to employee development: 2. Create consistency of purpose 3. Institute training on the job 4. Drive out fear 5. Break down barriers between staff areas 6. Eliminate numerical quota for the workforce and numerical goals for management 7. Remove barriers that rob people of pride of workmanship and eliminate the annual ratings or merit systems 8. Institute a vigorous program of education and self-improvement for everyone 9. Put everyone in the company to work accomplishing the transformation Five Ways to Develop Employees through Performance Appraisal • Treat Employees like Adults: Malcolm Knowles is known as the father of adult education both in the workplace and outside. In his concepts to support adult education, he referred to the establishment of goals, letting people be self-directed in goal fulfillment, and showing evidence of accomplishments. Image if we were to treat people like adults in the workplace and permitted each employee to show evidence of job performance and goal fulfillment! I am certainly not suggesting that we be lax in giving straightforward and developmental feedback. What I am suggesting is that when employees are treated like adults, adult performance will most likely be realized.
  3. 3. • Establish a common understanding: Expectations, performance goals, and timeline for accomplishment between the boss (evaluator) and the employee (one being evaluated) need to be clear and mutually established. Ask the employee: • What is the best way for me to give you feedback? • What is the best way for us to work together in supporting you as an employee to do your very best work there by fulfilling job responsibilities? • How will you show progress toward goal achievement (evidence or performance)? • Ongoing assessment of performance: identify the progress toward achieving the established expectations. Support the employees by recognizing what they are doing right to sustain their quality of work and give suggestions to enhance work performance. Jim Collins wrote about the Level Five Leaders: • Level 1 - Strong individual contributor • Level 2 - Effective team member • Level 3 - Very competent employee/contributor • Level 4 - Executive who is concerned for his/her own success • Level 5 - Care and concern for the organization, not self. Focus is on the organization On-going feedback by a competent boss supports the growth of each employee through a developmental plan, process of achievement and performance measurement. The boss’ effort in providing support should equal the competence and motivation of the employee. • Documentation that supports your performance: Organizations spend a great deal of time and money in development of sophisticated performance documents and complex rating scales with drop down boxes for definitions. Do those complex documents really make a difference? What is needed is an honest appraisal of performance for each person. Here is a documentation suggestion, provide evidence for the following common sense developmental questions for performance feedback: • Create mutually agreed to job expectations and goals: o What are ongoing goals or continual work you preform, o What projects did you accomplish and or complete? o What are you continuing to work on and why? o Were you working with others or alone (how did that go?)? • What were/are your performance successes (sustainable)? • What were/are your performance enhancements (improvements) • What is your plan to take on a wider scope of responsibility (career plan)? • Have on going appraisal of performance discussions: Your career is your responsibility: go to the boss or evaluator and openly discuss issues and ways to fulfill job responsibilities, working with others, what you will do the same and differently, ways to fulfill the expectations productively and efficiently. You may be thinking you cannot talk with your boss openly. If that is the case, why are you still there? You were looking for a job when you got that one. Do what is in your best interest. Bosses should give: autonomy,
  4. 4. challenging goals and support, open communication on the issues, identification of and solutions to the struggles in the workplace. If you cannot discuss anything with your boss find a mentor or peer with whom you can have an open discussion. Have open discussions with people with whom you work to openly communicate trial and tribulations or ebb and flow within your area or department. At the end of the day, you are responsible for your life at work: don’t think like a victim, think like a victor and find fulfillment in what and how you perform in the workplace. Rex Gatto Ph.D., BCC President Gatto Associates LLC. 412 344-2277 (Office) www.rexgatto.com rex@rexgatto.com

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