Appraising Jane Doe- HR’s Dilemma

Performance Appraisal is touted in organizations as an ideal measure of how individual efforts support the various productivity models. However, it is my view that the mileage that can be secured through the proper use of this tool is undervalued. There are numerous reasons that have been advanced as to why there is a weakness in the application of performance appraisal structures. The common factor lies not in the structure themselves, but in the people who are participants in the process.

In my experience, I have gained invaluable insight into the apparent disinterest in the use of any form of performance appraisal tool. As practitioners in the field of Human Resources, it is our business to understand the why and to work earnestly towards finding workable solutions. Our curiousity about the failure of sub-systems within our formal systems lose out to the nonsensical demands that are made priority in a dysfunctional setting. Those who are desirous of championing change must demonstrate the kind of behaviors that lead to honest feedback.

Adapted from Google Images

The behaviors I speak of include creating an environment of trust where your team places confidence in your ability to be fair and balanced, demonstrating compassion even as you seek to correct behaviors that run counter to the values of the organization, and providing opportunities for information sharing through the established channels of the company.

Performance appraisals are useful to test the pulse of the workers. I have a particular liking for two forms: the 360 degree appraisal and the supervisor/team member model. If used appropriately both models can yield data that will inform how companies meet the needs of their stakeholders.

Adapted from Google Images

Environment of Trust

How often have you heard the statement, “my boss is out to get me”? I’m sure you have said this a few times yourself. Each year, as is the norm in many companies, employees and managers embark on the arduous task of discussing performance over the given period. The outcome is more often than not, satisfactory for the recipient as the outcome may be impacted by the relationship that exists between the two. Where there is a power imbalance, the individual with the least negotiating power will have the feeling that he/she is being victimized in the relationship. Trust is an important element to the business of commerce and is no less expected in organizational relationships. In the Oz Principle (2004), it has been advanced by the author that there needs to be sufficient episodes of behavior matching discourse that will convince interacting parties of the sincerity of change. In other words, if you continue to do as you say, there is a strong likelihood that those you work with will begin to trust you. Simple enough!

Compassionate Disciplining

These two words are the antithesis of each other. For many subjects, the appraisal process is a harrowing experience because of the assumption that the process is a form of punishment. It would be expected that employees would be given adequate feedback throughout the year to ensure that work related and behavioral chalenges are addressed. The sad reality is that many managers do not engage in conversations with those they lead. They complete appraisals because the hierarchy needs to deonstrate that the process was done. At the end of the process, employees leave the exchange feeling as demoralised. It is important that the objectives of the department, framed within the overall strategy of the company, be at the center of discussions about productivity. At the beginnning of the year (calendar or fiscal), it is important to set the expectations of the employee against the expectations of the department objectives. Where there are gaps in performance, it is the responsibility and duty of the department manager to address them to prevent future reoccurence.

Information Sharing

In a dysfunctional environment, information is haphazardly communicated and the result is that employee do not know how they contribute to the big picture. In some instances, we overshare and the data that is essential gets lost in translation. In other scenarios, we do little to communicate expectations. Yet, we pray for a miracle that our efforts will be rewarded through increase productivity. I have seen what data overload has contributed as the recipients are  unsure about the focus and priorityof the enterprise. Can we do more to streamline how we communicate? Certainly!The tools exist. The challenge is we fail to use them and in the appropriate way.

Copyright 2013 Suzette Henry Campbell

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3 Comments

  1. Paula S

    Dear Suzette, I loved it! I am very passionate about Performance Management Systems, and think that once used effectively, is an essential Management tool. In a perfect world, there should be a positive correlation among the individual, unit, department and the organization’s performance/productivity levels.

    • Our failure Paula, rests in the little attention we pay to supporting the efforts of our employees. Imagine waiting an entire year without a single feedback and then being broadsided by an appraisal that suggests you contributed nothing. I have seen appraisals concluded in 15 minutes which leads me to conclude that our esteemed leaders do not yet understand the value of appraisals. I hope you will continue to use your passion to champion change.

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