Appraising Jane Doe – Part 2

Here is the second installation of Appraising Jane Doe. In my previous post, I explored a range of themes on the issue which emerged from my experiences on both side of the desk. In the formative years of my professional life, my receptiveness to this “lets meet and discuss your performance”, was in my sincere opinion a grand waste of time. I arrived at this conclusion because of the narratives of others and obviously as a result of my own interaction with the persons charged with undertaking the process.

On average, 30 minutes out of my job was snatched away because we had to “discuss” how I failed to meet the expectations for the year in review. Expectations? What expectations? My mind races to define what my supervisor is saying and in what context. Have I missed something? The painful and ugly truth is that in so many organizations, the only expectation that is shared is that you show up for work and do what is on the agenda for the day.

Adapted from Google Images

So as I sit there, in what can be construed to be a monologue, I filter the unnecessary babble and create a plan of what I need to do for the next evaluation to meet expectations. In my own mind, the hints that are dropped by the supervisor are clues to how to get the grade. There is a form and that form has descriptions of what I should be focusing on. With my plan firmly cemented, I vow to do much better than before. At the end of the discussion, I mumble my thank you and hurry out the door.

I will admit that as I matured in the game and gained confidence, I began to challenge the process which meant I  asked many questions. A number of my supervisors were not at all pleased but my aim was to understand the importance of evaluations. The missing piece of the puzzle was the lack of information with respect to the objectives of the company. Companies are designed with many interdependent parts. These parts (departments) are driven by different mandates. The company’s grand design is mobilized through the interpretation and check and balances that are included in the structure. The over-arching objectives are cascaded to the units for execution. It is therefore crucial that department leads set the expectations to avoid the traps associated with low productivity.

Setting Expectations

  1. As the lead, do you understand the objectives and are you able to discuss with your team, the nuts and bolts that are required to meet the stated objectives? It is paramount that you have a clear understanding to mobilize the team. The leader who inspires accord as opposed to dissent will achieve more.
  2. Meet with individuals at the beginning of the year to be assessed and define the expectations. Ensure that the discussion is recorded and that the conversation allows the employee to contribute to the discussion. Clarify misconceptions on the spot and encourage feedback. Both parties should have copies of the document as proof that the discussion was had and that there is agreement with the stated objectives.
  3. Employee assessment should be fluid and continuous. It cannot be acceptable that at the end of the year, the employee is met with a critique that has not been discussed. Any process of that nature should be abandoned. I have been exposed to companies that have these feedback sessions at each quarter. Whether established or not, those who manage talent should seek to increase the number of occasions they assess employee performance.
  4. At the departmental level, it is considered wise to also have regular meetings. Such meetings offer a chance to gauge the team’s morale and whether there are mitigating circumstances that prevent success. Another opportunity exists. Your employees are storehouses of ideas to drive production. Incorporating employee ideas as part of the department’s strategy  sends an appropriate message about positive engagement.
  5. Building camaraderie is essential. The professional respect you demonstrate to your employees will encourage them to be open in the communication process. As leaders create that environment that seek to integrate the talent of all involved and provide the technological, managerial, and learning and development support to help your employees succeed.

Improve your performance appraisal process by being consistent with your honest, constructive feedback. The frequency is also important. Prepare for the meetings. Do not wait for the formal review process. Set aside time to test the pulse of what is happening with the business through the eyes of your team. Where there are weaknesses, develop a corrective plan to strengthen the underperforming competency and/or skill. Devote the time and energy to improving your relationship with your human assets.

Happy trails and look out for the third installment on Appraising Jane Doe.

Copyright 2013 Suzette Henry Campbell

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