I don’t like the idea of traditional performance evaluations. Most managers don’t like to give performance evaluations – and most employees don’t like to get them – because they seldom identify the real issues. For example, poor performance can be caused by a number of factors beyond the employee’s control.
- They have a poor boss. Remember, half of all managers are above average, while the other half are below average. What’s the value of a performance evaluation from a below average manager?
- The reviews are seldom honest. Because no one wants to offend anyone else we rate toward the comfortable middle or, if there’s a “let’s get rid of them” agenda, the performance appraisal gets manipulated toward the low end.
- The Peter Principle. The person was moved into a new role (whether through hiring, transfer, or promotion) for which they lack the requisite skills or training. They have the desire, but not yet the ability. Whose fault is that?
Even though there are other difficulties associated with the traditional performance appraisal process, 75% of small to mid-sized companies still do them. What should we do instead? Here are a few points to consider:
- Make sure you have crystal clarity about what constitutes good performance – in terms of quality and quantity.
- Allow the employee to own the performance benchmarks.
- Provide as much feedback as possible on these benchmarks.
- Catch problems early.
- See where the “system” might be hampering performance.
- Think of yourself as more of a coach than a manager.
- Seek anonymous feedback of your staff and other managers. If you truly want to be a good manager, you need 360° input. Solicit it and take any judgment as a gift.
- Finally, there are only three results to a performance evaluation process: rewarding good performance,coaching poor performance, and terminating employees who just can’t cut it.
This last option is the trickiest because it involves more emotion than any of the others. Nobody likes to end a relationship, even if it’s a bad one. As a manager, you have to embrace the fact that employees won’t be happy about getting fired and will probably begin pointing fingers. If your performance evaluation process is able to identify their shortcomings without surprise, there should be little regret on your part.