Monday, May 10, 2010

Managers and Appraisals: Why Don't They Get Along?

There is always so much written on employee appraisals. I read that some individuals think they should be trashed, others think they need a total revamp, and some managers just don't like the process at all.

So, how can HR professionals create a tool for our end-user (managers) that works for them and HR?

First, let's think of the typical manager. "What is in it for him" to utilize an employee appraisal? (WIIFM)

1. His employees will be more motivated IF their actual performance was rewarded in a way that is meaningful to the employee.

2. His employees in turn would be more productive, reaching goals, making the manager's department successful.

3. His employees would understand expectations thus performing to those not wasting time on tasks that are out of scope.

4. His employees would be more engaged. Research shows that employees need to understand expectations, how they are performing, and where they are going in terms of career to have the highest engagement levels.

5. His employees would be developed thus increasing his department's/division's skill sets leading to more expertise and perhaps higher performance.

By "selling" the process in terms of the outcomes for managers seems like a great way to get some buy in. Today, appraisals are positioned as that necessary piece of paperwork in case we need to fire someone. That is not the intent but somehow the process has lost it's original purpose.

We can also equip managers for success in the performance management process by:

1) Making sure they are trained on the process and understand the steps and timing and WHY that is important to the organization.

2) Making sure managers are trained on the appraisal form and how to use it to accomplish outcomes listed above.

3) Making sure managers understand your ratings and what behaviors constitute each category. (i.e. exceeds expectations, meets expectations, etc.)

4) Making sure the process is easy to use. Talent Management technology is very affordable now, even for small companies. These solutions take the "cumbersome" out of the process.

I say don't get rid of the appraisals, get managers excited about them!

How have you engaged your managers in the employee appraisal process? Please share your thoughts with us!


Patrick Malone said...

The appraisal process is flawed because it is not seen as a continual year-round process of feedback and coaching that is codified into an annual document.

For too many managers the annual appraisal is a chore because the have they have abdicated their basic ongoing responsibilities of observing performance, providing feedback and applying coaching.

Annual appraisals should never be hard for the manager or a surprise to the employee.

Sean P Conrad said...

Great post Cathy, as usual!

Three things I would contribute to this discussion:

1) Be sure you also consider WIIFE - What's In It For Employees. Engaging managers is only half the battle, to really make performance management work, the employees need to be engaged as well. Often the value to the employees is development - a good performance process that drives engagement is most effective if it is focussed on development. Developing employees and improving performance is the reason we're doing this after all!

2) Performance reviews are only one tiny piece of talent management - and really "performance management" is well... management! That means that to make the review process effective you need to have managers doing regular performance management all during the year. If this is a once a year event - well it isn't going to do much for engagement - that happens every day, every week.

3) You talked about this in point 4) but I will add a bit more. Automation tools can sell the process. Automating performance management in general and the appraisal process in particular can cut the time managers and employees spend on these activities more than in half. It's much easier to engage managers and employees if you can make their life easier! These tools also enable HR to change their role - from being administrators of the process to strategic enablers for the organization. The talent game is really about enabling the company to execute on strategy, that's what "HR" really does for an organization.

Great post!

Unknown said...

Patrick and Sean:

Excellent points. I do agree for the entire system to be effective ongoing feedback is a must. I didn't mention that in this post as I was focused on the WIIFM for the manager and I was coming at it from that part was an assumption. I should have made that point, so thanks for bringing that up.

Sean, I agree employees must be engaged in the process as well..if not, it won't work.


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