An Art or a Science? How Should Supervisors Judge Employee Performance?
How do we teach our supervisors to write more effective performance reviews? As we've discovered, this task is not as simple as it seems. New supervisors especially struggle with the chore, making them less likely to view the process as important in getting the most from employees. How could we confront-and surmount-this challenge.
Supervisors will more readily embrace the task if your Organisation creates an efficient performance management system, supported by a culture of accountability and see itself as a learning and developing organization.
This issue is more often about the method and co-ordination rather than the actual supervisors. If the Organisation has done its part to create a workable, efficient performance management system and culture of accountability, then appraisals and appraising is part of our day to day work.
A well designed performance review process contributes to overall employee satisfaction, development and the ongoing sustainability of the team. Properly administered, communicated and delivered performance reviews will help your Organisation to:
* Motivate Employees.
* Recognise and Compensate Good Performance.
* Reduce Employee Turnover.
* Protect your Organisation legally
* Build cohesion
* Strengthen capacity
To improve our performance, we all need clear and consistent feedback and encouragement as we move to a performance based culture through our contracts and our service level agreements.
Here are six things you can do to create a system that sets up supervisors for success in the performance review process.
1. Secure ownership and buy-in from your Board of Management.
Boards of Management need to consistently promote performance management as it is critical to achieving results and encourage managers to engage in communications about performance management. This gives supervisors and employees "permission" to provide candid feedback. As part of this Boards of Management also, should reflect on their performance and go through the appraisal process.
2. Tie individual goals to organisation strategy.
Try goal-setting from the top of the Organisation on down. If your supervisors' goals are linked to strategic outcomes, it will be easier to link all employees' tasks and outcomes. The clearer the link, the easier it is to discuss results and understand how achievements are being made.
3. Hold individuals accountable for living the Organisation's values.
Strategy helps prioritise what work must get done, when and by what means. Organisational values help to guide how the work should be accomplished. When values are built into the review process, supervisors can more easily address the ABCs of organisational success: the right Attitude; the appropriate Behaviour and the correct set of Competencies.
4. Encourage employees to take responsibility for their own career management.
An effective system can and should create a partnership between employees and supervisors focused on mutual success and respect. Sure, employees need guidance and coaching from their supervisors. But to stay motivated and committed, employees need the chance to tap into their personal motivators and have a say in how their unique capabilities can be leveraged.
5. Hold supervisors accountable for providing regular feedback.
Consider tracking and compensating them for conducting regular coaching discussions. Hold them accountable both for results and for developing their teams. Don't just train them in conducting performance appraisals. Provide and develop the skills and tools they need for the discussions you want them to have throughout the year
6. Stop changing those forms.
In the end, performance management needs to be less about filling in forms or box ticking exercises, and more about continuous dialogue and partnership around issues that matter most to employees and the Organisation.
When supervisors focus on performance and mutual goals year round, the performance review is a much easier conversation.
A recent survey carried out in Ireland by Graphite HRM gives an overall sense that Performance Management practice is not well developed in Ireland. Despite its wide deployment in one form or another, there appears to be a lack of appreciation of what constitutes effective Performance Management. Performance Management tends to be seen to be linked to remuneration and this colours our viewpoint.
There are indications of a lack of sophistication, suggesting a lack of research on onward development, little apparent academic rigour in approach and insufficient quality assurance. Many organisations are simply failing to get a reasonable return on effort and investment - and in some cases getting no return.
The research indicates that only 48% of respondents believed that their system/process is a way of working and that 48% of managers believed it is a useful tool. Considering the time and money invested by organisations these are very disappointing percentages. These statistics alone should have organisations question the nature and impact of their approach.
This report contains practical advice on the 5 critical elements of effective Performance Management systems:
- Job Descriptions
- The Goals Cascade
- Goal Setting Skills
- Process and Documentation
- Quality Assurance
Each of these needs to be addressed individually. It can take up to 2 years to fully embed a performance management process as it requires considerable effort from the organisation in terms of time, commitment and perseverance.
Research on HR in the community sector (2004) found that the most significant form of appraisal to be an informal annual review. Participants in a focus group organised as part of the research felt that developing a fair and effective system of staff appraisal seems to be slow in sector. This mirrors the findings of Graphite HRM.
Community Organisations would be well advised to put a Performance Management system in place particularly in the context of the current climate. Such a system is required to demonstrate consistently how we deliver our contracts, service level agreements, outcomes efficiently and effectively and within a sound management practice framework. Employers need to show that every assistance and opportunity has been offered to the team to assist them in developing and improving their performance. Without such evidence we cannot match needs and resources and we cannot build the right team to deliver our outcomes.