Winnipeg Free Press - Section H - - CAREERS -

Hu­man re­source man­agers are dis­sat­is­fied be­cause the per­for­mance sys­tems are typ­i­cally time con­sum­ing, bu­reau­cratic, pa­per driven, top down and of­ten have lit­tle ref­er­ence to or­ga­ni­za­tional goals. Not only that, oper­a­tional man­agers are of­ten chron­i­cally late in com­plet­ing their ap­praisals. All in all, the per­for­mance man­age­ment sys­tem is fre­quently the most poorly im­ple­mented of all hu­man re­source man­age­ment sys­tems.

What, then, should an ef­fec­tive per­for­mance man­age­ment sys­tem look like? First of all, no mat­ter the tech­ni­cal de­tails of your per­for­mance sys­tem, the or­ga­ni­za­tional phi­los­o­phy must rec­og­nize that “on task be­hav­iour” is not the only thing that should be counted. Or­ga­ni­za­tions need to rec­og­nize that work has changed. It is more flex­i­ble, more dy­namic, in­ter­change­able, less pre­cise, team ori­ented, more am­bigu­ous, more com­plex and more stress­ful. These el­e­ments have been found to be just as im­por­tant and need to be given con­sid­er­a­tion in a per­for­mance eval­u­a­tion.

The process of un­der­tak­ing the per­for­mance ap­praisal must also be up­dated. In ear­lier times, the process was very top down; where the man­ager pro­vided all of the in­put while the em­ployee was not al­lowed to con­trib­ute. To­day, em­ploy­ees ex­pect and should be in­vited to par­tic­i­pate in set­ting work goals, have a clear un­der­stand­ing of what is con­sid­ered good per­for­mance and have an op­por­tu­nity to speak freely and dis­cuss their per­for­mance. It is also im­por­tant that the em­ployer ap­praiser’s in­ten­tions are help­ful and con­struc­tive.

Whereas the con­cept of per­for­mance ap­praisal has been slow to change, it is un­der­stand­able that man­agers and su­per­vi­sors still en­gage in old style be­hav­iour and do not carry out the process ef­fec­tively. Train­ing in how to pro­vide feed­back, coach and men­tor em­ploy­ees is of­ten lack­ing. The re­sult is that em­ploy­ees go away dis­sat­is­fied and if not given an op­por­tu­nity to dis­cuss their con­cerns, they may be­come dis­grun­tled and leave your or­ga­ni­za­tion. Such a loss for all con­cerned.

At the same time, em­ploy­ees are of­ten not fa­mil­iar with the steps to take should they not be happy with their per­for­mance ap­praisal. The fol­low­ing are some tips for em­ploy­ees who are dis­sat­is­fied with their re­view. This will help make the jour­ney to col­lab­o­ra­tion in per­for­mance man­age­ment more suc­cess­ful.

Hold your com­po­sure — Hear­ing any neg­a­tive mes­sage is hard to bear, but you must not let neg­a­tive emo­tions over­take you. The best strat­egy is to stay com­posed, di­gest what in­for­ma­tion you can and thank the man­ager for their per­spec­tive. In­di­cate that you would like to take some time to think about the com­ments and re­turn at a later time with any ques­tions and com­ments that arise.

Re­view and an­a­lyze — Ap­praisals mea­sure work el­e­ments such as time­li­ness, fol­low-through, fol­lowup, con­tent, ac­cu­racy, cus­tomer ser­vice, team­work, and align­ment with the mis­sion and vi­sion. Re­view your per­for­mance re­view doc­u­ment and iden­tify all of the ap­praisal com­ments you be­lieve un­just, un­fair and/or are in­cor­rect. Iden­tify the ba­sis upon which these com­ments may have been made. De­ter­mine if there was suf­fi­cient ev­i­dence or ex­am­ples of your work to make the com­ments. If not, then gather your additional in­for­ma­tion.

Dou­ble check your job de­scrip­tion — And dou­ble check the goals and ob­jec­tives set for you. Have you been work­ing on the right tasks at the right time? Of­ten, when em­ploy­ees re­ceive a bad ap­praisal, they will find they’ve en­gaged in “job creep” — un­der­tak­ing work that they like to do but which is not in their job de­scrip­tion. Also, check to see if pri­or­i­ties have changed and/or if the work environment has pre­vented you from work­ing on pri­or­i­ties.

Check for eval­u­a­tion er­rors— There are sev­eral er­rors that oc­cur in per­for­mance man­age­ment. For in­stance, a man­ager may fo­cus too much on re­cent events, may con­fuse their own per­sonal stan­dards, make in­ap­pro­pri­ate com­par­isons, and may let per­sonal opinion over­rule ob­jec­tiv­ity. These er­rors need to be ad­dressed.

Dou­ble check the process — Re­view your poli­cies and iden­tify the steps you need to take to re­fute your eval­u­a­tion. Start with your im­me­di­ate su­per­vi­sor, next dis­cuss your con­cerns with their man­ager and/or the hu­man re­source man­ager where ap­pro­pri­ate.

Pre­pare for a meet­ing — This type of meet­ing can be quite dis­con­cert­ing for an em­ployee, so write down the key ar­eas you wish to dis­cuss. Three key points per is­sue is ef­fec­tive. Pro­vide ex­am­ples. Bring along an ad­vo­cate if this makes you more com­fort­able.

Be re­spect­ful — Sug­gest that you value the man­ager’s opinion, but con­firm there are sev­eral is­sues to ad­dress. Make your points in a re­spect­ful man­ner, pro­vide your ev­i­dence and in­quire if they can see your point of view. As soon as pos­si­ble, move the con­ver­sa­tion along to a mu­tu­ally agree­able con­clu­sion.

Take the next for­mal step — If agree­ment with your di­rect man­ager is not pos­si­ble, take your is­sues to the next level. Seek the as­sis­tance of a union rep­re­sen­ta­tive, if avail­able. Other­wise, write a for­mal let­ter to the se­nior man­ager out­lin­ing the facts in­volved, the steps taken and ev­i­dence for your per­spec­tive. For­ward a copy of your let­ter to the hu­man re­source pro­fes­sional if ap­pro­pri­ate. Keep a copy for your­self.

Move on — Let’s face it, some­times you will not find agree­ment. In this case, main­tain your com­po­sure, con­tinue work­ing to the best of your abil­ity and as­sess your in­ter­est in stay­ing with the cur­rent work environment. Since you can’t fix per­son­al­ity con­flicts and/or other emo­tional and psy­cho­log­i­cal is­sues be­ing ex­pe­ri­enced by your boss, leav­ing for other op­por­tu­ni­ties might be the best ca­reer op­tion. If you do so, keep your head held high and your rep­u­ta­tion in­tact.

To­day’s work environment re­quires a more col­lab­o­ra­tive ap­proach to per­for­mance man­age­ment and con­sid­er­a­tion for all of the com­plex el­e­ments that af­fect pro­duc­tiv­ity, in­clud­ing invit­ing em­ployee in­put and feed­back.

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