Performance Appraisals were once the unquestioned way of doing things, the familiar ritual in which employees and managers sat down for an annual evaluation. If the employees were lucky, they walked away with raises, often tied to a ranking on some sort of rigid numerical scale. Nobody really liked it, but in the old command-and-control style of organisational leadership, this seemed like a perfectly appropriate model for measuring performance.
But today, with the widespread emphasis on teamwork, shared leadership, and an ongoing struggle to find, develop and retain qualified employees, the familiar ritual is developing to become more comprehensive, meaningful and impactful for all parties involved.
In a survey conducted jointly by the Society for Human Resource Management and Personnel Decisions International, 32 percent of the HR professionals surveyed indicated that they were “unsatisfied” or “very unsatisfied” with their organisations’ performance-management systems. They cited deficiencies in leadership development, coaching, 360-degree feedback, and development planning. Twenty-two percent said that the greatest challenge they face is a lack of support from top management. Forty-two percent of the organisations that participated reported that executives do not even bother to review the performance-management systems that are currently in place.
To get it right, Fred Nickols, a senior consultant with The Distance Consulting Company in Robbinsville, New Jersey, suggests the following basic principles:
- Goals should be set and agreed upon by both the manager and the employee.
- Metrics for measuring the employee’s success in meeting those goals should be clearly articulated.
- The goals themselves should be flexible enough to reflect changing conditions in the economy and the workplace.
- Employees should be able to think of their managers as coaches who are there not to pass judgment, but to help them achieve success.
It must also be remembered that appraisals cannot be done in isolation from the holistic performance management process. Appraisals act as a milestone in the yearlong monitoring process and are tied directly to rewards and recognition.
Instead of focusing mainly on employee shortfalls during performance appraisals, organisations will achieve more results by finding ways to fine-tune and improve their systems to offer more opportunities to develop their team. So, rather than have hotel management criticize a desk clerk in an annual review for being too slow in processing the check-outs of departing guests, it would be more productive to brainstorm ways to set up an express check-out system.