Performance Management: A Proactive Approach to Performance Appraisal
Performance appraisal time; words that send shivers up the spines of managers and staff alike. At Everson Consulting we feel your pain. We have worked with dozens of organizations that have struggled with their performance appraisal process even though they realize the importance of staff development.
Instead of focusing on the "appraisal" process, we focus on a much larger concept. Performance Management is an ongoing commitment to developing your staff to their maximum potential and we can make that transition a manageable process. Our training programs help your teams build prescriptive Performance Management processes that meet your needs.
Although the appraisal is an integral part to the life cycle of performance management (click here to see the cycle), it is simply the final step of an ongoing process that starts with planning, evolves to development, incorporates assessment, and then begins the planning process all over again. If you don’t do a good job of planning and development, of course, the assessment/appraisal process is going to be painful for all involved.
To begin the Planning Process you first need to have a clear understanding of team member strengths and weaknesses. Every team is made up of performers who excel at certain tasks. Clifton and Buckingham, in their recent best seller, Now Find Your Strengths, do a great job of detailing why organizations should invest most of their developmental dollars in taking staff strengths to the highest level, instead of focusing on trying to get all their skills to a “manageable” level.
Once we have a profile of team member strengths we can then start to plan who should be doing what at what level of performance. It would be wonderful to have everyone be able to do everything at the “rising star” level but that is not realistic. The Everson Consulting model recognizes that there is a big difference between those skills and abilities that can be trained, and those characteristics or traits that are just “there.”
For traits and characteristics, we suggest a stronger, up-front hiring process that utilizes "competency based" interviewing techniques. This will help identify candidates who bring the requisite traits to the team. These should not require a training focus.
For the sake of this summary, we instead focus our efforts on those skills and abilities that can be developed using our Performance Development toolset: Training/Coaching/ Mentoring/Counseling. The first three tools are for those who "can't"; the final tool is for those who "won't". This is a critical step in the Development phase.
The final phase of the lifecycle, Performance Assessment, is a natural home for the "Performance Appraisal" piece, but it is so much more than just an end of the year, face to face or electronic, "here's how you did" meeting. Assessment must be an ongoing process throughout the year, using empirical data from individual and team performance provided in a timely manner to the individual performers.
When Appraisal time appears, it is no longer a painful process, but instead, an opportunity to review a yearlong data trail that lays the foundation for the start to next year's planning phase.
We often get asked about tying appraisals to salary administration. Although books have been written on the subject, pointing out the problems with this tie, we will only say that the two processes are distinct and although connected in many ways, they should not be done at the same time. We will be happy to work with your leadership team to develop a prescriptive process that incorporates both pieces.