No quick fix

Em­ployee per­for­mance ap­praisal of­ten mis­man­aged

Winnipeg Free Press - Section H - - FRONT PAGE - BAR­BARA BOWES

EM­PLOYEE per­for­mance ap­praisal and per­for­mance man­age­ment has long been a core pil­lar in a man­ager’s tool kit. How­ever, I’m sure it isn’t a sur­prise to learn that em­ployee per­for­mance man­age­ment is the most mis­man­aged func­tional area of hu­man re­source man­age­ment. All kinds of com­plaints have sur­faced such as in­con­sis­tency, sub­jec­tiv­ity, late­ness, a top-down ap­proach and a fail­ure to tie the process to or­ga­ni­za­tional goals, to name only a few.

Some of the prob­lems es­sen­tially stem from the fact that many or­ga­ni­za­tions con­tinue to take the old Tay­lorism ap­proach from the 1800s where the fo­cus is on “fix­ing” em­ploy­ees rather than de­vel­op­ing them. On the other hand, there are many pro­gres­sive or­ga­ni­za­tions that have adopted a more coach­ing and men­tor­ing ap­proach to em­ployee devel­op­ment and per­for­mance based on a set of com­pe­ten­cies for each job.

How­ever, in spite of the fact that per­for­mance man­age­ment philoso­phies have be­come more in tune with how peo­ple learn and grow, the is­sue re­mains that most man­agers still do not like to con­duct em­ployee per­for­mance re­views. First-time su­per­vi­sors, es­pe­cially, find con­duct­ing their first se­ries of per­for­mance re­views to be very chal­leng­ing. That’s be­cause in many cases, the new su­per­vi­sor may not have had a good role model who would have pro­vided coach­ing and men­tor­ing on the con­duct of per­for­mance re­views. The re­sult is that many new su­per­vi­sors are fly­ing by the seat of their pants. In an ef­fort to over­come this, I pro­vide the fol­low­ing ad­vice to help new su­per­vi­sors to gain some con­fi­dence in de­liv­er­ing their first ever per­for­mance re­views.

Un­der­stand the process — re­view your or­ga­ni­za­tion’s per­for­mance man­age­ment phi­los­o­phy, poli­cies, the re­view cy­cle, the time­lines and the process. As well, re­view the form and en­sure you un­der­stand it well. Ex­am­ine any ear­lier re­views by a pre­vi­ous man­ager and gain an un­der­stand­ing of the goals and ob­jec­tives that were as­signed to the em­ployee. How­ever, do not al­low former views of the em­ployee to colour your own judg­ment.

Meet and In­form the em­ployee — most re­view strate­gies to­day in­clude in­put by the em­ployee. Meet with your em­ployee, re­view the process, pro­vide the form and then give clear di­rec­tions. Be sure to al­low enough time for them to think about their ac­com­plish­ments and to pre­pare their self-as­sess­ment re­sponse.

Re­view work prod­uct doc­u­men­ta­tion — as a new su­per­vi­sor, you may not have much data to work with but if pos­si­ble, gather as much in­for­ma­tion as you can so that you can make valid com­ments backed up by ex­am­ples. Ask the em­ployee to pro­vide you with a list of projects, and sam­ples of their work. Re­view the job de­scrip­tion for the role you are re­view­ing. Re­view your de­part­men­tal goals and ob­jec­tives.

Un­der­stand em­ployee learn­ing stages — if an em­ployee is new to their job, as you are to the new su­per­vi­sory role, you’ll find you need to give more di­rec­tion. Still other em­ploy­ees are work­ing at or be­yond their level of com­pe­tency. Each level re­quires a dif­fer­ent ap­proach to re­view and guid­ance. Be sure to eval­u­ate each em­ployee with re­spect to where they are on the learn­ing curve.

Com­plete the re­view doc­u­ment — de­ter­mine if you can ac­cu­rately eval­u­ate your new em­ployee. If so, then pre­pare your com­ments with ob­jec­tive and con­crete state­ments that quan­tify be­hav­iour and will clearly de­scribe strengths and ar­eas of chal­lenge with re­spect to the de­part­men­tal goals. Fo­cus on qual­ity, time­li­ness, cost, ef­fec­tive use of re­sources, per­sonal man­ner of per­for­mance and method of per­form­ing as­sign­ments. Be cer­tain to con­sider if the em­ployee is per­son­ally aware of their strengths and weak­nesses.

Avoid judg­ment er­rors — be sure to base your com­ments on facts and not as­sump­tions. Be­ing new to the job of su­per­vi­sor, it will be easy to make an as­sess­ment based on first im­pres­sions and/or only one as­pect of the em­ployee per­for­mance. Be sure there is a link be­tween be­hav­iour and work ac­com­plish­ments. In other words, be­cause an em­ployee ar­rives early ev­ery day doesn’t mean he or she is be­ing pro­duc­tive.

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