Adapting The Performance Appraisal Process To Meet The Needs Of The Modern Workplace
Via Forbes : Adapting The Performance Appraisal Process To Meet The Needs Of The Modern Workplace
As the end of the year approaches, many of us are facing the dreaded performance appraisal process that punctuates the year’s end and sets performance goals for the next. It wasn’t long ago that a number of reputable companies started abandoning performance reviews, citing such reasons as they’re time-consuming for both employees and managers, they can negatively affect employee morale and they don’t significantly impact performance. Employers such as Motorola, Deloitte, Microsoft, Adobe, Accenture and GE all jumped on the bandwagon, electing to ditch performance reviews in favor of more frequent one-on-one meetings with managers in an effort to provide feedback and keep employees on task.
As an employee of a company that continues to utilize annual reviews, and assist clients in their employee review process, I understand their value. If administered correctly, performance reviews can drive employee growth and departmental success. However, there are several who feel they’re just not a good use of time. Perhaps for many employers, the process is simply in need of repair, with the problematic areas requiring a bit of tweaking. For those companies that have always incorporated performance appraisals into their end-of-year process, eliminating the practice may not be necessary if the kinks can be worked out enough to yield positive results. Let’s take a look at some ways in which the performance review process often falls short, and how to remedy them.
Problem: There can be a lack of consistency in the evaluation process among management.
Solution: What one manager sees as excellent work, another views as just getting the job done, but not going above and beyond. While some managers see high marks as reward for a job well done and motivation for continued excellence, others see average or lower marks as even better motivation for employees to improve performance and surpass what they’ve already accomplished. Employers should provide training to managers on completing performance reviews. This shouldn’t be a one-time introductory lesson, but an ongoing, yearly review session to ensure that despite differentiating management styles and personalities, performance ratings and evaluations remain consistent.
Problem: Often, evaluation criteria aren’t tied to measurable outcomes. Managers are asked to rate employees on “customer service” or “communication,” leading to confusion as to what constitutes a good versus bad rating.
Solution: Managers should set employee goals linked to quantifiable results or goals. This doesn’t necessarily have to be in the form of hard numbers. Obviously, revenue-generating jobs require metrics. However, too often, hours are wasted trying to tie numbers requirements to non-revenue-generating jobs that don’t utilize them. Managers should be able to determine how well employees accomplished their job duties in a given year and what is necessary for improvement the following year. Employees must then figure out how to achieve this improvement in order to meet these goals for their next review.
Problem: Some employers use performance appraisals as a method of “weeding out” low performers.
Solution: A solid recruiting and screening process should prevent low performers from being hired in the first place. Of course, the occasional bad apple may slip through the radar of even the best hiring manager. But if the right due diligence is completed in the preliminary stages of hiring and managers are working regularly with employees on assigned tasks throughout the year, there should be no need for completing yearly checks of employees’ work output simply to rid the company of weak links.
Problem: Performance reviews focus on the past, looking back at employees’ completed work — and only once a year.
Solution: The past is past, and what’s done is done. In order to be truly effective, managers must look ahead at attainable goals for the upcoming year and consider how employees can accomplish them. This can only be done through regular one-on-one meetings between the manager and employee throughout the year in order to monitor his or her progress and determine what changes should be made in order to achieve the goals previously set. Once-a-year meetings looking backward will not achieve the same success as weekly or monthly meetings looking ahead.
Problem: The traditional manager/employee corporate structure is less common in today’s workplace, making employee performance appraisals more difficult.
Solution: There are far more rungs on the corporate ladder in today’s workplace than in previous years. Many employers are abandoning the traditional boss/worker hierarchy for a more fluid, project-based structure, emphasizing teamwork in an open-office environment. A few years ago, Zappos took it a step further when it announced it was eliminating all management positions, opting for a holacratic structure that assigns employees to multiple circles, each performing certain functions. The result is increased difficulty in one manager evaluating an employee’s performance. Employers may remedy this by allowing for peer evaluations and self-evaluations, enabling employees to measure each other’s performance, as well as their own, as they complete goals and projects throughout the year.
The performance appraisal process may be flawed, but not altogether broken. In today’s ever-changing workplace, the annual review should be flexible and able to adapt to changes in modern corporate structure. Additionally, employees must receive feedback far more often than once a year in order to ensure they’re on track to achieve performance goals. A rigid, formal, yearly performance review developed to evaluate an outdated employer/employee relationship will fall short in accurately measuring employee accomplishments and setting achievable future goals. However, if employers adapt their performance appraisal process the way they adapt their corporate structure, company culture and employee retention strategy, they will find it far more effective in accomplishing its intended purpose, as well as more widely accepted by both employees and management.
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