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Unravelling Performance Appraisals…does one size fit all?

Externsteine - place of power
The subject line of the manager’s email reads: Annual Reviews Due!!  At that moment an audible groan is muffled behind every manager’s computer.  Why?

“Review time! We just finished forecasting and budgets!  Now, I’m going to pull more late nights and Saturdays!  There are just too many *%!@*  things to do around here!”

Reviews, appraisals, salary performance reviews or whatever you call the process…tend to sneak up on a manager’s horizon.  Following employee terminations, it could probably be ranked as a manager’s least favorite activity. Conversely, it is one of the most anticipated events of the year for an employee and can have a strong influence on whether a top performer stays or goes.

Why anticipated?  Well, an employee may receive infrequent feedback and wonder how their performance has been perceived. Or, they work remotely and it’s the time of year set to review how they’ve met their goals and to set goals for the new year.  Maybe, they’re waiting to hear if they get a salary increase or not.  But first, you, as the manager, have to get past the “manager dread”.

Manager Dread

Why do managers dread performance appraisals so much?

  • Not enough time has been set aside during the year to document performance and whether expectations were exceeded or just average
  • There are not regular performance talks (informal or formal) throughout the year, so it feels awkward to address “deep” issues
  • There are areas that need improvement with no clear goals, job descriptions or job duties so it appears that the manager is just  “adding more to their job, as needed”
  • The employee might ask specific questions about goals that are not measurable, and your review seems  contingent on how you feel about someone 

How can we make performance appraisals better experiences?

  • Professionally written job descriptions or guidelines
  • Know the traits that it takes to be successful in the position
  • Frequent informal communcation with the employee, including talks about performance 

Companies often will be able to tell you what it takes to make them successful, such as their core values and mission statement.  Yet, when it comes to breaking down the values, mission statement and strategies into bite-size parts for the employees to handle, it resembles a jigsaw puzzle fresh from the box.  How can that be avoided?

Next time: “One Employee’s Story” and How to Avoid Turnover

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"Pat brings her charm, wit and insight into her advisory relationships and shares the same with her audiences. She's got the systems to back up her concepts."

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