This was a key question at a recent client meeting, where the desire was to find a new way to implement performance appraisals and performance management in a way that was productive and engaging.
We often find that when talking to clients about another area of our expertise, namely, 360 degree feedback, that this question of ‘Why are we doing this?’ is more readily discussed and easier to identify.
This is because the concept of conducting a 360 degree feedback process is a conscious decision for the organisation; it might support a leadership development programme or be part of an assesssment centre initiative – in any case, it is evaluated with a specific purpose in mind.
However, when it comes to performance appraisals, this conversation doesn’t always happen, because there are just accepted as ‘something we have to do’.
As a consequence, it can become easy to focus on the process and the detail of performance appraisals, without really considering what you hope to achieve with them.
Once there is a clear understanding of what you truly want performance management and appraisals to acheive within the business, ideas as to how you can make them productive and engaging become much easier.
A topic that often comes up for discussion time and again with our clients is about what the remit should be of a 360 degree feedback debrief; the session where you share an individual’s 360 feedback report with them (ideally for the first time).
We favour that it only goes as far as highlighting the key strengths and development opportunities for the individual; moving into ‘coaching’ mode and seeking to start creating actions or ways to resolve things in the report is often premature.
Coupled with this is to go at the pace if the individual concerned; sometimes they may well be able to contemplate development actions and begin planning ways to act upon the feedback, in which case you can follow their lead if the report has been fully explored.
Similarly, we often find individuals who need to ‘go away and think about it’ and this is equally valid.
I read a post some time ago on the Harvard Business Review Blog which came to mind again recently – it provides examples of how behaviour is sometimes changed for the positive through simple changes in the environment.
This is one of the themes which runs through the book ‘Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness’, a book written by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein, which suggested in a variety of different situations that influencing social norms or behaviour in groups can be closely correlated to changes in the environment – a simple example being the placement of healthy snacks by a till rather than chocolate.
Making things easy for people to do, or at least creating the perception of things being easier to do, can create some significant changes in behaviour.
For HR and an organisation as a whole, there is a desire to have employees complete their performance appraisals; with a paper-based process, this can be an onerous task for everyone involved.
Moving to a simple, fast and efficient on-line system has both employees and line managers able to undertake this task without having that sinking feeling that comes with wading through mountains of paperwork.
This is the most straightforward argument to migrating these processes on-line, and that’s even before you consider the ability to view real-time reports on employee performance and development needs across the organisation.
Our popular series of 360 degree feedback seminars continues, so if you haven’t already registered then we would like to invite you to reserve one of the few remaining places at our next free seminar on October 12th 2011, which is being sponsored by one of our clients, the law firm, DMH Stallard, at their central London offices.
To register a place & receive your invitation, just click below:
By the end of this 2 hour seminar, you will:
- Understand the critical factors that will ensure success when introducing 360 into your business
- Take away a checklist to help you work logically through the implementation process
- Appreciate the key principles that will help you design a great questionnaire, communicate effectively to get company wide ‘buy-in’ and facilitate face-to-face debriefs.
Previous delegate comments include:
"Short, sharp and to the point. Well delivered by very experienced consultants. Thank you"
"Very informative and helpful, we came away with some great tips and ideas for our implementation of 360"
"Good relaxed atmosphere and very useful and practical information provided."
Go to seminar registration page
This seminar will be very interactive and allow plenty of opportunity to network with other delegates,discuss best practice and offer ample time for Q & A if you have specific issues to be addressed.
Places are limited to just 25 delegates with just a few more remaining.
We really do hope you can join us for what promises to be a great morning with stunning views across London!
News reports of a possible ‘double dip’ recession, with all the hand wringing and mud slinging that go with it, does raise an often thorny yet important issue for all organisations.
Accurate employee performance appraisal information is critical in helping organisations through a downturn.
Hard choices will have to be made and priorities decided upon, but they should not be to the detriment of the organisation in the long term.
A way to ensure this is to base decisions upon good objective feedback (360 feedback or otherwise) and objective performance data…or as near to that nirvana as you can get.
Taking an objective, fair but more robust approach to performance management has never been more important as companies may have to face doing more with less.
If, like most organisations consistently report, both Line Managers and employees are unhappy about the quality (and sometimes quantity) of performance appraisals, then the answer may very well be ‘Yes’.
Not unsuprisingly, as with 360 degree appraisals, an online system is not enough – there has to be a good understanding of what the purpose of the performance appraisal is there for, it’s essential role within the wider context of performance management, and what fundamental skills are required for a constructive outcome.
Without skilful handling, an appraisee may find that an online system has simply made a unproductive process more efficient!
There have been a number of quick polls in various HR magazines, which highlight how organisations feel that their Line Managers are poor at performance management and appraisals; the effect is recorded on the other side of the coin too, with employees feeling that their Line Managers often fall short of their expectations.
With this in mind, we now regularly complement our online performance appraisal solutions with a new training programme "Conducting Effective Performance Appraisals" – as with the 360 programme, it is a one day programme and marries some essential theory with some tailored role-play.
This fits with our ethos that if you can encourage individuals to have meaningful conversations, be they Line Managers with staff, Directors with the organisation or team members with each other, then ultimately better choices can be made and performance can improve.
We recently conducted a number of face-to-face 360 feedback debriefs and was mindful of the growing interest in ‘Applied Positive Psychology‘ and how it promotes a different way of thinking about ourselves and others in the workplace.
In essence, it is concerned with the strengths a person displays and how they can be best deployed within their role, and potentially capitalised on beyond their current position.
The feedback people receive is always full of strengths and these can often be forgotten as the ‘development areas’ are sought out, with an overwhelming desire to ‘fix things’.
It is important to dwell on the strengths, understand them, explore them, celebrate them and consider how they can best put to use.
We will often add these strengths into any personal development plan and encourage the recipient to consider actions which will bring these to the fore as well as address any developmental needs.