Performance Appraisal for Creating and Maintaining a High Performance Culture
Best Practices for Creating and Maintaining a High Performance Culture
Performance Appraisal Systems –
Performance Development Defined
- What is meant by the terms performance management and performance development and how do they factor into the performance appraisal?
- How does an organization go about increasing productivity, improving their operational efficiencies, enhancing employee satisfaction (as well as loyalty) while, at the same time, investing in the professional development of their staff, reducing turnover and creating a succession plan strategy for the future?
A Mini History Lesson ~ The Evolution of Performance Systems
- Performance Appraisal (Post WWII): Management style was typified as one-way communication focused solely on increased productivity. Accordingly, the performance appraisal was the sole performance tool influenced largely by output and often characterized by discrimination, intimidation, inequality, poor safety, undue influence and little care for motivation of worker’s.
- Throughout the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s an evolution began with the forming of Unions and government imposed regulations such as OSHA and discrimination laws.
Recession and Automation of the 70’s and 80’s ushered in change: Performance Management
- Due to the recession, downsizing and the near elimination of industries like coal and mining, as well as the rising costs associated with employment law, a new method for addressing performance was introduced with the development of quantifiable performance management instruments.
- Incorporation for two-way methods for communicating and practices for union avoidance.
- New approaches to training, benefits and employee relations were introduced.
3rd Generation, 1990’s – Present: Performance Development
- Performance measurement tools refined, feedback became ongoing and methods for attracting and retaining workers became commonplace e.g. recognition, rewarding, coaching, counseling and the annual performance appraisal was no longer an annual event but a year round process.
- Rather than “evaluate, appraise or manage” one’s performance the paradigm has (in just the past ten years) shifted to “developing” employee’s which has been proven to increase job satisfaction, greater employee input and higher productivity.
- Performance Development occurs 365 days a year and is one small part of the annual appraisal process.
- How do you write effective performance objectives and quantifiably measure output?
- What are the new performance development tools that the company is implementing and how will I use them in managing the performance of my employee’s?
How to Write Performance Objectives and Measure Output…
- Need a good job description: If the employee is a novice or an expert, then factor that into the objectives you develop.
- In the creation of a high performance culture, the objectives should be slightly more challenging each year as the incumbent moves from Novice to Competent to Expert.
- Objective should be written for the role AND the incumbent.
- What do you need accomplished by someone in the role? Ideally, you want to have your immediate needs addressed, but also incorporate some strategic objectives as “stretch” goals.
- Seek input and partner with the employee/incumbent in the development of performance standards, as well as in the creation of action steps to be taken.
When Writing Objectives, Think SMART
- When developing performance standards and realistic goals use the SMART criteria:
- Specific: describe each action needed to accomplish goal.
- Measurable: Define quality and quantity; focus on observed, measurable behaviors and results.
- Attainable: encourage growth within realistic and reasonable limits.
- Realistic: make objectives reasonable and realistic.
- Timeframe: establish timeframe(s) for completion
Finally! Broaden Your Perspective…
- Consider setting objectives in one or all of the following areas:
- Innovation – Something new to attempt/new challenge
- Problem Solving – Task incumbent with solving an existing problem for the team/organization
- Routine – improve basic job responsibilities
- Professional Growth – Improve basic job responsibilities or duties through job enrichment, mentoring, career pathing or professional seminar
For each Job Description, the three levels are identified as…
- Novice – qualified and knowledgeable but lacks experience in applying knowledge and unfamiliar with applying that knowledge in organizational nuances, processes etc.,
- Competent/Proficient – knows how to apply knowledge, understand processes/procedures and is able to execute but generally requires some degree of supervision.
- Expert/Advanced – is a subject matter expert able to mentor others and take on more leadership accountabilities.
- From a career pathing perspective, this is the point where an incumbent (with effective coaching) should be determining whether they want to pursue a subject matter/project mgr path or one toward management.
Writing Objectives – Good and Bad Examples:
Human Resources Manager
- Novice: Ability to analyze existing policies and workflow and make recommendations for improvements in a timely manner.
- Competent: Ability to make logical decision based on a solid understanding and knowledge of policies, procedures and laws that not only make sound business judgment, but are tailored for the culture and are consistent/fair.
- Expert: Partners with the Executive team on the introduction and implementation of organizational initiatives that foster a high performance culture, enhance communication in the workplace, reduce turnover, increase productivity and impact the bottom line.
Performance Objectives – Good and Bad Examples
- Improve the quality of finished documents, reports and correspondences.
- Improve the quality of finished document, reports and correspondences within the next six months by:
- Asking question prior to preparing documents to make certain you understand the directions, timing and quality desired.
- Through proofreading the document before submitting it to the author.
- Enrolling in an intermediate work processing class to learn additional features that are needed to improve the quality and appearance of reports.
- Take initiative to recommend format changes that improve the presentation and appearance of documents.
The Performance Ratings – Since employees want to feel that they’re experiencing career progression, or that there’s some sense of career pathing, a five point rating system is recommended to at least give the perception that they’re somehow being distinguished from their peers and that they’re not just “average”.
- 5 = EXCEPTIONAL: Far exceeded the requirements of the job: The employee accomplishes the basics of the job with ease and excellence.
- 4 = ABOVE AVERAGE: Consistently exceeded the requirements of the job: Little direction is needed for complex or crisis-oriented tasks.
- 3 = COMPETENT: Met the requirements of the job: The employee is “satisfactory” in performing the basics of the job. For more complex, creative, or crisis-oriented tasks, the person may require some direction.
- 2 = MARGINAL: “Borderline” in meeting the requirements of the job: He or she does not anticipate (and finds it difficult to adapt to) change.
- 1 = UNSATISFACTORY: Did not meet the requirements of the job: The employee’s performance in the job is inadequate; needs immediate improvement.
Administering Merit Increases: High Performance Culture’s often include the following administrative guidelines:
- Your star player’s will get larger merit increases
- Some organizations conduct a “forced ranking” identifying their A, B and C players giving the message to the C’s that you either need to improve and become a B or find a new employer (controversial and possibly prone to litigation).
- The message employees receive about pay increases should be one of “pay for performance”
- If your performance is marginal or needs improvement, no merit or COLA should EVER be given; otherwise, the employee is receiving a mixed message.
Aligning Performance with Corporate Values, Mission & Code of Conduct…
- The Performance rating given (or the “What”) is cross referenced with the behaviors, traits and values that the company expects their employee’s to foster (or the “How”)
- This alignment of “what” the employee has done with “how” they did it allows manager’s to hold their staff accountable for those that engage in unproductive behaviors, don’t take initiative, might be prone to gossip and/or have poor communications skills. In short, they aren’t role models or leaders; they can execute on the “what” but can’t – or won’t – commit to the “how”.
Mike Russell is a seasoned professional with three decades of experience in the fields of HR and OD. In addition to having a career trajectory of HR Generalist to a VP within ten years, Mike also has a long and successful background as a Consultant/Business Partner to CEO’s, Presidents and Executive Directors in both the private and non-profit communities across a wide spectrum of industries.
As the sole-proprietor and owner of Organizational Development Solutions (ODS), Mike partners with business leaders committed to insulating their organization(s) from potential liability, increasing organizational effectiveness and adding shareholder value.