A WINN ARTICLE
TEN PERFORMANCE APPRAISAL SINS
By: WINSTON MATTIS
It is that time of the year again. You are reminded that it is time to complete employees’ performance appraisals. Stalling is the most immediate reaction. Why? We all know that doing appraising an employee’s performance is one dreaded management tasks. For many managers, the mere thought of doing performance appraisals causes you stress, and plenty of angst. Giving negative feedback is horrific and brings about trepidation in you. Managers often begrudgingly, schedule a time to do the appraisals.
As you approach this task it is perhaps useful to reflect on some of the “sins” from the perspective of an employee. WINN asked ten employees about the donts of a performance appraisal and here are the recurring themes.
It is a sin to delegate it: Employees want to have their performance appraised by their immediate supervisor. They do not want this task to be delegated, regardless of the nature and quality of the relationship that exists between the employee and the supervisor.
Bad timing is a sin: Those interviewed stressed that they do not want to be appraised at a time when there is a live dispute between the supervisor and the employee. Naturally, employees do not want a live dispute to influence the overall rating.
Rushing it is a sin: Spend the time with the employee and do as comprehensive a job as possible. Employees do not want to feel rushed in the interchange. They want to feel that the process matters and that the supervisor treats their performance as part of a career development exercise.
Rubber stamping is a sin: While employees understand that information can be gathered from a variety of sources to assess performance, they nevertheless make a distinction between the collection of information from others, and taking others advice. The assessment should reflect the opinions of the supervisor supported by facts. Employees caution that they do not want the results of the appraisal to be influenced by the advice of persons external to the process. In other words, the supervisor should not simply be rubber stamping advice obtained from sources other than objective information about the employee’s performance.
Subjectivity is a sin: Objectivity in the performance evaluation process is one thing that employees seem to value. When providing feedback employees seem to welcome specific examples of performance failures and concrete suggestions on strategies to improve.
Job irrelevance sin: Among those to whom WINN spoke, there is an overwhelming desire to ensure that the feedback received is not a personal attack, but job-centred. Where comments of a personal nature are necessary employees said that the supervisor should ensure that it is not a personal attack on the employee, but rather examples of inter-personal behaviours that require development.
Only current sins: A few of the people to whom we spoke said they did not want to be constantly reminded of past sins identified in a prior appraisal, unless it was relevant to the assessment being conducted.
Dismissiveness sin: Employees want to feel that any concerns or explanations raised in the course of the assessment are heard, understood and addressed. Most everyone seems to understand the process as a dynamic one in which there is constant interchange between the appraiser and the person being appraised. Employees want their managers to listen to what they have to say without being dismissive. Listening sometimes require demonstration of empathy. Being dismissive sometimes gets interpreted as a rush to judgement–a done deal, so to speak.
Privacy breach sin: It goes without saying that there is a high desire amongst employees to keep the results of the appraisal private, sharing it only with those in the organization who for functional purposes need the information. Privacy seems to be a value that is shared across the board.
Incompletion sin: Employees seem to frown upon and do not appreciate a half done review. Failing to complete the interview leaves the impression that it is not important. Constantly kicking the date of the review further down the road is also not appreciated. Moreover, failing to complete the review leaves the employee hanging with no clear sense of closure and direction.
Unilateral sign off sin: Some of the employees interviewed said that a manager should not sign off on the results of the performance review until discussing its entirety with the employee.