All managers want specific business outcomes like growth, prosperity, profit, quality and safety. These in turn depend on operational outcomes, for example on enhanced productivity. Operational outcomes depend on the performance of all workers in the firm. Performance depends on worker competencies and motivation. And motivation is substantially under the managers’ control. All that remains is for the manager to use motivation to drive that performance. To effect change, managers must appraise staff performance effectively.
TimelessTime consultants have built appraisal and review systems - and they’ve worked with management to support motivational performance discussions. Here are some of the issues we’ll engage with.
Effective Performance Appraisal
Performance assessment is not easy. All assessment is biased. A manager judges an employee’s performance differently from the employee’s colleagues. The employee could appraise their own performance but with a different view. And the employee’s internal and external customers and subordinates also have different views.
Management must decide how appraisal is to be done from knowledge of likely bias while considering organisational aims.
Performance depends on worker motivation and competency. So, given motivation, managers must improve competence. Competence is worker skill and knowledge. Managers will typically support development of employees. What that development comprises will need to be in line with corporate aims and will be set during a staff development review.
There are a host of appraisal systems advocated today. But careful analysis is needed to determine which is right for each organisation – because all organisations are different. One size definitely does not fit all.
The best systems combine the power of feedback in corrective action and the power of objective setting to motivate staff for the future.
Implementing off-the-shelf appraisals such as ‘360-degree’ ratings or even employee self-appraisal could, in the wrong environment, be disastrous for the organisation. All appraisals must be tailored to meet organizational requirements.
Few managers are trained to run appraisals. There are great benefits to be had when an appraisal and associated goal-setting go well. And conversely, there’s much damage that can result from a bad appraisal meeting.
Managers must run robust, fair appraisal systems and be trained for every eventuality during the meetings and subsequently.
Feedback and Difficult Conversations
There are established, proven tools for giving feedback to staff. It’s essential that all managers are trained in their use. And there are established methods for having difficult discussions with staff to reach a positive outcome. Managers must be familiar with these methods.
Running Appraisals and Reviews
Appraisal must not replace normal day-to-day management. Managers must work day to day with their staff. Performance discussions should never come as a surprise. Appraisal is a special opportunity to sit down annually or quarterly or even monthly to discuss an employee’s performance. Everyone seeks feedback on performance – even if that feedback is negative.
There are key requirements for running appraisal systems and for conducting the meetings themselves. Poor implementation will damage the firm.
And appraisals go hand in hand with goal-setting and training and development. For those employees performing below par, these tools must be directed at performance improvement. For those meeting expectations, these tools must inspire staff to do even better. For high performers, goal setting and training and development must be targeted at new skills and knowledge acquisition to allow them to take on new roles as the organisation evolves.