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Via Forbes : Your High Performers Will Hate Their Performance Review If You Don’t Say These Two Words

It’s an unavoidable fact of corporate life that most people really dislike annual performance reviews. The awkward formality, cramming twelve months of feedback into 30 minutes, and more, make this conversation and process painful for all involved.

In fact, the study Performance Appraisals: New Data Reveals Why Employees Dislike Them discovered that only 17% of people always believed that their performance appraisal was open, honest and meaningful. And 54% never or rarely thought performance reviews were open, honest and meaningful.

That’s a pretty glaring indictment of a process that virtually every company undertakes. It’s actually so bad that 88% of respondents said their current performance review negatively impacts their opinion of HR.

Is there anything that can be done to change employees’, and especially high performers’, dislike of this dreaded annual event? Yes, and one quick fix to stop high performers from hating this process is to say two words: Thank You.

Remember that annual performance reviews are a look back over the past year. Some employees delivered performance this past year that could be described as average. Others delivered performance that was, at best, uninspiring or subpar. But some people, your high performers, went above and beyond to deliver really fantastic performance. And to those people, we really need to say “thank you.”

For what are you thanking them? Of course, we want to thank high performers for the great things they did this year. But I would caution you against thanking them only for the achievements that you considered most significant.

It’s entirely possible, and in fact likely, that the achievements of which your high performers are most proud are actually different from the achievements that you consider most noteworthy.

Imagine that one of your top performers led a big technology installation and delivered the project ahead of schedule and under budget. For most leaders, that would warrant a hearty pat on the back and recognition on the annual review. But maybe this particular employee felt that the project was pretty easy and no different from projects they’ve led dozens of times before. In fact, maybe they feel like getting complimented for delivering this project is mildly insulting (like complimenting Michael Jordan for making a layup).

Lest you doubt the dangers here, think about whether you’ve ever received a compliment or recognition for something you considered absurdly easy. Isn’t it insulting, and maybe even a bit demeaning?

How do you endure that you’re saying ‘thank you’ for achievements that your high performer actually values? Ahead of their performance review, we’re going to ask our high performers to send us a Proudest Moments List.

In this process we simply ask employees to detail for us some of their proudest moments from the past year. This doesn’t have to be formal, and in fact we’re going to tell them that it doesn’t have to be a big formal exercise; we’ll ask them to just jot it down on a piece of paper, or send an email or whatever simple process they choose. We simply want them to highlight for us what they thought were their proudest moments in the past year.

There are several reasons why we want our employees to send us a Proudest Moments List. First, if we don’t know the achievements of which our employees are most proud, we could thank or recognize them for achievements that they consider banal (like in our previous example). And that could seriously damage our relationship with one of our best employees.

Second, if we don’t have specific examples for which to thank our employees, there’s a good chance that we’ll revert to generic-sounding phrases like “Bob is a great team player” or “Sally goes above and beyond” or something equally insipid. And one of the big complaints that employees have about performance reviews is that there’s too much boilerplate.

Third, with today’s fast-paced workplaces, it is really hard to remember and track all the great things our employees did this past year. If you’re like me, you might struggle to recall everything that happened last week, let alone what happened ten months ago. And if we fail to recognize our high performers’ greatest accomplishments in the annual review, it can make the process incredibly demoralizing.

The risk of missing our employees’ greatest achievements is especially high if we have more than a few employees. You might be able to easily track one or two people, but fifteen or twenty is really tough.

Finally, in the performance appraisal study, we discovered that only 28% of people believe that their leader always recognizes their accomplishments. So when we ask high performers for their proudest moments from the past year, we’re not going to ask them for their biggest failures (or anything like that). Remember that your high performers went above and beyond to deliver really fantastic performance (they weren’t low performers whose performance was below average). And given that they delivered fantastic results, the primary message we need to give them is an overwhelmingly positive “thank you.”

Via Standard Media : How to improve feedback during appraisals and assessments

Most of us have been on one or both ends of an appraisal during our careers. This process can offer a variety of benefits for both the employer and employee, provided it is done correctly.

In theory, an appraisal can provide an extremely useful forum for both businesses and individuals to take a considered and constructive look at what is working for them and where there is room for improvement. Crucially, the process can present a good time and place to agree steps needed for an individual’s career path, as well as how they can play a part in the future and growth of the business.

However, some appraisals may not be handled in the best way. Some meetings are often crammed in a short time slot between seemingly more important work commitments. Then there are the cases where appraisal forms are filled in by the employee but aren’t read by the appraiser ahead of the meeting. Even when the appraisal takes place and a plan agreed, in some cases the minutes from the meeting only gather dust in a drawer with little or no action taking place weeks or months after.

One way in which we can redress the balance of appraisal anxiety and indifference is by being clear of the purpose of an appraisal. Ideally, appraisals should not simply be about taking a retrospective look at work to date and giving a “could do better” oral work report.

Both sides need to be clear of the purpose of the appraisal – is this a chance to meet face to face to review certain working practices and potentially how obstacles can be overcome? Will the appraisal provide a good opportunity to map out the next steps for an individual’s career? Will it offer the opportunity to discuss promotion or a pay rise? Both sides need to be clear about the parameters to ensure discussion at the appraisal is focused and expectations are managed.

Appraisals should also be conducted in a holistic, 360-degree manner. It’s often said that the most inspiring bosses are the ones who listen. They don’t run a business with an iron fist, but create a work culture which is more democratic, listening and encouraging employees to have their say.

A more open workplace culture, via 360-degree reviews where senior management’s performance is also assessed, can go a long way to making an employee feel part of the business and not simply like a work-horse. Provided the reviews are constructive, this can be great opportunity for the boss or line manager to hone in and improve their leadership and management skills.

Based on feedback, it seems all too often the appraisal finds its way down the list of things to do and is often bumped to another date on one or more occasion. The hour slot then becomes a rushed twenty minutes.

Essentially this sends a message that there is often someone or something else is more important than the career of the individual being appraised. While money talks, the lifeblood of the business is also the talent itself, so it’s important to ensure enough time is allocated – ideally between 45 minutes to an hour – and the meeting isn’t constantly moved.

Likewise, many appraisals only take place on an annual basis. This is a long time given the changes that can take place, such as other members of the team leaving, creating shifts in workload or responsibility. If possible try to hold appraisals twice a year to check that any agreed targets and requirements are still relevant, being acted upon and supporting all parties.

Filling in a form ahead of an appraisal meeting can be a useful first step as long as it is read by the appraiser and detailed responses provided.

However, if you’re being appraised don’t just leave it to the form to communicate your thoughts or to ask for a promotion or pay rise. You may want to write up a summary of what you believe to be some of your best work highlights over the past six to twelve months. This could include endorsements from clients and team members. If it helps, do a run through with a family member or friend ahead of the meeting to ensure you are clear and confident during the appraisal.

Likewise, if you are the appraiser, discreetly ask other team members for their feedback and look into how they believe a certain individual has made a valuable contribution. However, it is important that you are not inviting unnecessary negative remarks at this stage. The appraisal should be perceived as a positive and constructive process within the organization.

A few days after the appraisal has taken place, the appraiser should send a summary of agreed actions with relevant timelines attached to each point. It may even be worth diarizing a short meeting to follow up a few weeks down the line to ensure everything is on track.

A few extra steps before and after can ensure that the appraisal will make a huge difference to a person’s career and in turn the business itself – a far cry from a simple box-ticking exercise.

Via Tech Funnel : 14 Tips to Create Successful Performance Appraisal Goals

Performance appraisal goals are a very important aspect of employee success. They give employees a clear direction, make it clear what the employer expects from them, and motivates them to work hard.

Many employees have little job satisfaction due to a lack of clarity in what is expected of them and not knowing where they should improve. Likewise, when an employee only hears the negative things about their performance, they feel unappreciated. And a lack of reward for hard work and effort, even a verbal reward, adds to the feeling of being unappreciated.

Performance appraisals are a great way to provide the appreciation and the clarity that the employee needs. However, the employee needs to know what they are being appraised for so that they know what areas to work on and reach out for guidance if they need it. They need to have a starting point and an ending point.

The starting point is where they currently are- how well they are doing currently, what areas they need improvement in. The ending point is where they and you hope to be by the next appraisal. To do this, there needs to be a map- a very clear map that has clear signs and stops along the way.

Creating a successful performance development plan is about much more than just writing some generic items to check off on a sheet of paper. There needs to be some thought and strategic planning put into them. They also need to be about much more than just what the employer wants- the employee needs to have a voice, as well.

A truly successful performance management system will involve multiple aspects from multiple directions to provide a better-rounded plan.

Here are 14 tips to create successful performance appraisal goals.

Via Insights News : Staff appraisals – more than a procedure

Making sure employees have a clear path for professional development is an important part of running a successful practice. KAREN CROUCH explains how an effective review can keep staff happy and motivated.

As the financial year draws to a close most organisations will have now completed their annual budgets for the upcoming year, which of course includes remuneration costs. While it may be mathematically straightforward to estimate next year’s costs, remuneration is far more than just a budgetary exercise as it involves a practice’s the most valuable resource – employees.

Assessing remuneration should be based on a thorough review of each member’s performance over a preceding employment period. Additionally, other key benefits that may be derived from a meaningful staff appraisal program include practice owners ensuring the highest quality service to patients, staff members achieving greater job satisfaction, and greater harmony in the workplace.

Staff appraisals are an effective management tool that should yield the following benefits for individuals, the practice and the practice owner.

Relationship Building: A vital opportunity for face-to-face, personal discussion, strengthening the bond between employers and staff members. By seeking staff feedback on practice operations through 360 degree reviews, it signals the employer’s respect for opinions from all staff;

Performance Management: Provides the opportunity to say ‘well done’ and ‘thank you’ for good work while allowing for frank, constructive discussion to improve performance in areas where a staff member is less effective; and

Personal Development: Expresses sincere employer interest in employees’ personal career development, possibly even extending beyond just job performance.

The program

It is timely to consider the entire staff appraisal program so it is not treated as any other routine exercise.

In larger practices it may be a time-consuming exercise that needs to be completed without the interference of day-to-day patient care and practice operations. Consequently, a meaningful starting point should be an organisation chart clearly indicating the person to whom each employee is directly accountable. In some cases, such as the practice manager, the number of appraisals could be onerous and may require sharing with other senior staff who also have direct dealings with the employee.

A pre-printed staff appraisal form should be available to assessors and staff so there is advance notice of the subject areas that will be addressed. Ideally, it should also contain the expressed mission and values of the practice to which employees are expected to live up to.

Effective appraisal programs should be:

  • Continuous and consistently undertaken
  • Positive and interactive
  • A comparison of actual performance to set targets and objectives
  • Relative to practice personnel policies
  • An opportunity to motivate staff
  • Identify relevant training needs
  • Welcome feedback from staff.

An appraisal program should also touch on personal attributes or areas of group involvement, such as:

  • Quality and quantity of work – efficiency
  • Assigned responsibilities and initiative displayed – performance
  • Whether supervision is frequently required – self motivation
  • Attitudes to practice, staff and fit with internal culture – business values
  • Attendance and punctuality – reliability
  • Communication and interpersonal skills – teamwork.

Time frames

Staff Appraisals should be geared to address two separate time periods:

  • Performance Review (past 6-12 months): Assessment of quality and quantity of work performed during preceding months, affording staff an opportunity to assess their own performances and provide feedback on practice operations or personnel generally;
  • Development Review (upcoming 6-12 months): Jointly agreed upon plan for development of each employee aimed at improving career opportunities and personal contribution to the practice. The agreed development plan, including targets and objectives for upcoming 12 months, should form the basis of the following year’s performance review.

While a full-blown assessment may be inappropriate for recently employed staff their performance must be maintained at satisfactory levels. Depending on their length of service, an interim assessment may be considered.

A regular staff appraisal program can improve quality and quantity of work. It can also lift practice standards and image.

Staff appraisals are linked to productivity, time management and professional development through formal education and training, which subsequently provides career opportunities and greater staff satisfaction.

Via The Southern Business Journal : Business Management – Let’s review the performance review

As I am writing this, the weather has finally turned from the blistering hot days of summer to the milder days of fall here in Southern Illinois. The third quarter of this year has come to an end. Some of us are assessing our year and may even be preparing for next year. The fourth quarter brings a very busy and chaotic time for most organizations as there are many things to do. The easiest thing in the world is to skip the often dreaded and never welcomed the performance appraisal process. Many of us struggle with this process because we know it is antiquated. It takes valuable time that many of us do not have. It is not a perfect system. What if there was another way?

This better way would need to reward high performers while keeping the much-needed performance dialogue going all year long. Our current one-and-done system really only addresses performance at the end of the year, months after the performance item has happened. Good or bad, you will hear about it a year later when it is too late to modify or teach to the behavior. What about the non-productive team members that need regular coaching? Speaking to them once per year is not good enough. They need support and motivation. Plus, as a leader, it helps if I have shared measurable goals that we can all work towards. Give me something real and attainable to strive for and talk about.

There is another way. Organizations are doing it. Some are getting rid of the system that we have come to think of as normal and just throwing it out the window and creating their own systems based on the needs of their business. What if instead of talking about what already happened once per year, you changed your model and moved to a forward-thinking approach? Why not talk about what should happen in the future? What you want to happen going forward instead of what already happened in the past? You have to admit, the standard model is old and tired. By the time we discuss performance for last year, the person’s performance (if they are smart) has changed drastically especially right before review and merit raise time. Some of the items that were issues seem like they happened so long ago because they did. Why bring them up now and throw salt in the wound?

There is a new system out there. In order to understand, you must free your mind of the old system. One example of this new system has been put in place by Symetra. I recently viewed a webinar where Anne-Marie Diouf, VP of Human Resources and Jennifer Sharp, AVP of Human Resources presented their program. This program centers around on-going and continuous feedback. If you truly consider it, this is the problem with the current system. Feedback is not timely. The review takes place up to a year after an incident either good or bad happens and the feedback is too late. This really is an opportunity missed. Immediate discussion or intervention is needed to change the behavior. If the behavior was good and/or something that we want to happen again, we missed an opportunity for positive reinforcement.

Now, making a major change like this would not be easy. In fact, it was not easy as Anne-Marie and Jennifer attested to during the webinar. They made it clear that they and their team constructed this program from the help of a consultant and some books but a lot of hard work. This was not a program out of the box. They had to hammer it out on their own to make it work for their organization of 1,600 people scattered across the country. Symetra created this program for themselves based on their wants and needs.

Symetra forged a new program that did the following:

  • Got rid of labels. You know, the labels given with review scores.
  • Involved the entire organization in their project. They met with senior leaders. They worked with people from every department.
  • Made compensation a separate process from ratings. Yes. I said this out loud. Compensation does not have to be tied to a rating on a performance review. If you think about it, it happens all the time.
  • Add in other rewards and incentives that are not part of this program.

If your process is accomplishing what it is intended to accomplish, you may want to keep it. Revamping a system like this can consume both time and resources. However, if your needs are not being met, don’t be afraid to think outside the box. We don’t have to do things this way forever. I am excited by what Symetra has done and look forward to hearing the success stories from others as well.