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Via Forbes : The Right And Wrong Way To Conduct Performance Appraisals

Performance reviews are seldom something that employees look forward to. Despite their bad reputation, they can provide some invaluable feedback, however. Indeed, an analysis of them back in 2016 found that performance reviews do in fact provide valuable information to managers.

Despite the potential upside, they also run the risk of consuming large quantities of employee time for little reward. So being able to ensure that performance reviews deliver benefits to both parties can be a real boon to corporate productivity. That’s exactly what researchers from Columbia Business School believe they can do.

A recent study from the school finds that when reviews are conducted such that the employee is evaluated against their past performance rather than against the performance of their peers, the reviews are seen as fairer, which in turn improves both productivity and morale.

“Our findings show that, simply put, the process matters,” the researchers say. “Oftentimes, the performance review process can be viewed as uncomfortable, unfair and uninspiring. In order to improve upon the fairness factor and thereby better ensure employees accept the feedback, managers must acknowledge the individual identities of their workers and their specific contributions to the organization over time.”

The ideal performance review

The most common form of performance appraisals compare our current performance levels either with our previous performance levels or the performance levels of our peers. When the two approaches were compared, the researchers found that comparing our performance now with our performances in the past was more effective because employees regarded them as fairer, especially on an interpersonal level.

Respondents also regarded such reviews as more individualized, and this was valuable in signaling to the employee that they were important to their employer, and indeed to their manager. This opens them up to both positive and negative feedback during the review.

When we’re compared against our peers, however, the results are less positive. These social comparisons often lack any of the specific details we need to improve our performance, whilst they can also create an impression of being just another number in the workplace. This made employees less open to feedback, regardless of whether it was positive or negative.

The findings suggest that the best way to approach reviews is to ensure that there are at least some elements whereby the employee is compared against their past selves. This can also extend outside of the appraisal environment, with managers encouraged to treat employees as individuals.

When and when not to be social

By comparing performance against yourself, you can also make appraisals less subjective. A study published in 2016 highlighted the negative impact subjective reviews can have on employees. It found that when employees felt under-rewarded, their productivity dropped significantly, but the opposite didn’t appear to be the case when they were unfairly over-rewarded.

This sense of fairness and injustice can be hugely powerful, therefore. What’s more, it can be especially important when things such as salary, bonuses and promotions are wrapped up in your performance appraisal. Indeed, the evidence suggests that if you are going to make appraisals social, then it should be in how these bonuses are distributed.

A study from 2013 found that when employees were given so-called “pro-social” bonuses, i.e. bonuses that they have to award to a colleague, their own performance rises in turn. The study found that when a $10 bonus was given to a salesman to spend on himself, he only generated $3 in extra sales, so a $7 loss. When the salesman was given a $10 bonus to give to a colleague however, the pro social bonus yielded an extra $52 in increased sales.

So there are benefits of being social when it comes to performance appraisals, but it may well be in how bonuses and rewards are distributed rather than how performances are measured.

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.

Via CIPD : Five ways to avoid appraisal pitfalls

With the annual review season upon us, Jonathan Maude provides tips for HR professionals on getting performance conversations right

1 Be honest

One of the most common things HR practitioners get wrong with appraisals is to gloss over inadequacies and avoid confrontation. Far from being harmless, being ‘soft’ and unwilling to address an employee’s poor performance can have a ruinous effect on the standards expected and the morale of co-workers, and in certain circumstances expose the company to claims of discrimination and unfair dismissal should the employee need to be dismissed at a later date.

In this uncertain world, with the spectre of Brexit looming, a company may decide it needs to downsize. If redundancies become needed, the appraisal is a first reference document to be considered when looking at which staff will stay and which may go.

2 Adopt the right tone

If the message is delivered in the right way – for example, in a more encouraging tone – then the messaging itself can be constructive and positive. It is more likely to be appreciated and taken on board by the employee. Equally, if there is a well-understood appraisal system and the culture is to provide honest and detailed feedback, this becomes the norm, and any confrontation should be avoided.

3 Train appraisers

Training needs to be given to the person undertaking the appraisal and the employee should be told what to expect from the process. So often a manager, who may be very good at their job, is put in charge of people and not given the right tools for the role. They need to be trained in how to deal with appraisals and how to deliver honest and constructive feedback to the employee.

Part of the training needs to focus on why this is an important task, not one to just tick off the list. For example, if it were to become necessary for a company to make group redundancies, then it will need to undertake a selection process of the affected employees to avoid unfairness in dismissals. The selection process may also give the company a defence to claims of discrimination, as it may be able to show objective justifications for decisions it has taken.

4 Get the data right

To follow a fair redundancy process in a ‘pooling situation’ employees need to be sifted. Various factors will need to be considered when ‘scoring’ employees, and performance is likely to be one. If appraisals have not been conducted properly there is no raw data to use in this process. The company will then end up making more subjective decisions, which will be subject to legal challenge by way of unfair dismissal or, in the worst-case scenario, discrimination claims.

5 Be objective

Aside from the legal issues, there is the fundamental business problem that subjective, ‘on the hoof’ decisions put the company at risk of letting good staff go and retaining the non-performers. This is bad for the company and its morale going forward.

Performance reviews, whether annual or more regular, need not be feared and loathed in equal measure. If the groundwork is done well and in a systematic way then both employer and employee know what to expect and both benefit.

Via INC : The Right Way to Conduct a 90-Day Performance Review

What is the right way to do an evaluation of a new hire?

Many companies have a 90 day “probationary period” for new hires. At the end of this, the manager is supposed to do a sit-down evaluation with the new employee. It’s such a standard thing that we often don’t think about it, but we should. It’s actually an area which can cause your business big troubles if you don’t do it right. Here’s the right way to conduct a 90-day performance appraisal.

Stop Saying “Probationary Period.”

This is not just a language thing–it’s a legal thing. In the United States (with the exception of Montana) all employees are at-will unless they have a contract (such as a union). You do not want to do anything to jeopardize the at-will status. So, stop referring to the first 90 days as a probationary period because it implies that the rules change at day 91. If you can be fired without notice on day 75, does the end of the probationary period mean something’s changed and now you can only be fired for cause? You don’t want to get in the legal battle over that. Just say, “We’re going to do a review at 90 days.”

Aim for 90 days.

We don’t call it a 90-day review for nothing. The 90 days isn’t critical. You could do a 60-day review, a 120-day review, or a 75.5-day review (over lunch!). The critical part is to do it when you’ve told the employee you will. Put it on the calendar on your new hire’s first day.

Why? Because performance reviews stress the heck out of your new hires. If you postpone or don’t get around to scheduling, it makes it difficult for your employee. She doesn’t know where she stands. So, if you say you’re going to do it, do it.

Have an Agenda

If you sit down and say, “So, how are things going?” you’re going to miss important things. You can certainly have that type of conversation, but not at an official review. A review should have, at a minimum, an agenda. If this is official company policy there should be a form.

You want to stick to the agenda and cover these things (plus whatever is important for the particular position).

Areas where the new hire needs additional training:

  • Cultural fit
  • Gaps in knowledge
  • Workload evaluation
  • Skills Fit
  • Employee’s observations
  • Things that need changing
  • Things that are working well
  • Make Sure the Employee Has a Chance to Speak

This is not just about you giving feedback, it’s about you receiving feedback. What is and what is not working? Are the improvements that your new hire wants to make? Are there concerns you should know about? It’s better to learn about these things now than have problems appear later on.

Remind the New Employee about Policies

Most people aren’t going to take a day off in their first few months, so they may have forgotten the proper procedures to request time off. The new employee may not have submitted an expense report or had to buy plane tickets for travel, but she will in the future. It’s a good time to go over these things to that the employee never feels uncomfortable.

And if the 90 Days Were a Failure?

If it was a total failure, then that should not be a surprise to anyone at the review. If you’ve been attempting to fix the problems for the past 90 days, it’s time to let the employee go. However, if it was a disaster because you didn’t provide training and support, you need to fix that. Bringing in someone new won’t fix the company’s onboarding process.

But, if the employee is definitely the issue, it’s better to part ways sooner rather than later. Get the paperwork in order and get everyone to sign off and bid the person good luck in their future endeavors.

Say Thank You!

You know what a new job is? Hard. It’s far more difficult than a job you’ve had for 3 years. You get decision fatigue just because everything is new–you have to develop new patterns and new techniques. You have to deal with new people and learn their quirks. It’s tough. So thank your new hire. She’s survived 90 days and that’s not easy. Let her know you’re thankful.

Via Forbes : To Keep Your High Performers From Hating Performance Appraisals, Try Using A Proudest Moments List

Employee performance reviews are not particularly effective. You may have seen the research that currently, only 29% of employees say they ‘always’ know whether their performance is where it should be. And more than a third of employees ‘never’ or ‘rarely’ know whether their performance is where it should be. This means that even though most companies use some form of performance appraisals, most employees still don’t really know if they’re doing a good or poor job.

And not only are performance appraisals supposed to offer employees some insight about their performance, they’re also supposed to help employees grow and develop. Well, more research has found that about 50% of employees say their leader rarely or never takes an active role in helping them to grow and develop. So clearly, performance appraisals need some help.

Performance appraisals, if done right, actually can be useful, productive, meaningful conversations that do what they’re intended to do: improve employee performance and promote growth and development. There are many ways to fix performance appraisals, but here I want to highlight one incredibly easy technique: Start every review by asking your employees “What are your proudest moments?”

You might already do a self-appraisal, but there’s a big difference between proudest moments and a self-appraisal, and that difference is what makes proudest moments so motivating. When you ask for a self-appraisal you ask for the proudest moments, but you also ask for the biggest failures. And while it might not be a bad thing for your low performers to have to bring you an honest evaluation of their biggest failures, it’s actually quite harmful to your top performers.

There’s a different psychological dynamic that happens when high and low performers experience failure. Low performers might not know about the failure, they might not care, or they may even have intended for the failure to happen. But one of the reasons high performers are high performers is that they have a high degree of critical self-awareness. Which is wonderful because most of the time these valuable employees already know they messed up—even before you tell them. And they get right to work on fixing the problem and making self-corrections so they never mess up like that again. However, most high performers are also prone to beating themselves up pretty hard when they mess up. And that can quickly turn the focus of the review back onto stuff they’ve already corrected and moved past. Plus you might just get swayed listening to a high performer beat himself up and give lower marks than are deserved.

Keeping things focused and balanced for high performers is only one reason to ask about proudest moments. Starting reviews with this simple question also helps leaders avoid the biggest employee de-motivator: missing the greatest things your people did that year. Because what you learn by asking this question gives you all sorts of great information to work from during the review. Let’s face it, managers are human too. I can’t remember what every one of my employees did 12 months ago, and I have a pretty decent memory. The fact is, you’re not going to remember every single little thing, so have your people make the list and tell you their proudest moments. It makes a big difference to them if the two great things they did get remembered and talked about a bit.

Another benefit is asking about proudest moments also clues you in as to the kind of meeting you’re in for. If an employee tells you, “I am just so proud of myself because I made it on time for work 70% of the time this past year which is a huge improvement over the 50% I managed the year before,” it tells you what kind of conversation you’re in for. You’re going to go into that review with a very clear direction.

So before your next performance review period starts, simply ask your people to make a list of their proudest moments. If your organization conducts 12-month reviews, ask employees for their proudest moments from the past year. Or if you do six-month reviews, have them look back on the past six months and answer, in writing, the question: What were your proudest moments? And just like self-appraisals, always do your own evaluation first before you read employee proudest moments. This allows you to avoid neurological biases like the anchoring effect that can skew your evaluation and make the review less objective.