Westchester employers need to get and maintain peak performance from their employees. In order to compete employers need the best and most productive employees. But there is a catch. You can’t just hire them. You then need to develop your employees so that they can produce better results. Your employees really want opportunities to grow and develop. If you have looked you know that there is so much out there written about performance reviews. Many of these writings focus on procedure. I am presenting here a much more practical bottom line approach but one that uses solid human relations skills.
Most organizations do annual performance appraisals and most human resource professionals are charged with developing a performance appraisal system. This process alone is one of the most universally disliked systems. The reason is that most appraisal systems do not focus enough on two very important areas—Employee Development and Results.
We should be focusing more on performance development rather than performance management. We start with expectations but before we measure expectations we need to set expectations. It is not merely enough to tell an employee here is your job description and see me if you have any questions.
Establish expectations from the start.
Help orient your new employee by helping him or her to understand the big picture for your organization. Share the organization’s vision, values, and mission along with the organizational goals. You will have more success if you are as transparent as possible. In order to have employee “buy in” the employee needs to first know what he or she is buying. Make sure that your expectations are clear and concise. If you don’t set the baseline of expectations your future criticisms may seem arbitrary to the employee.
Feedback and evaluation should be continuous.
One of the biggest mistakes made by management is to only conduct annual performance appraisals. If you only communicate annually with your employees you will have lost the opportunity to develop them and, at the same time, create improved results. The best way for you to insure that expectations are being met is by continuous feedback. People learn incrementally and by spaced repetition. This learning is helped by continuous feedback. And don’t forget to recognize positive performance. Be sure to recognize your employee when you catch him or her doing something right. As an example, I worked with a service company that wanted to reduce unnecessary service calls by having their call agents help the customer trouble shoot the problem when they called over the phone. Before long the call agents had developed the new habit which had been reinforced by the management recognition for helping the customer immediately and saving a service call. By far, people are more receptive to positive reinforcement because it provides the opportunity to focus on positive outcomes.
Conduct a formal appraisal on a regular basis.
Although you have established expectations you should have developed a work plan with standards based on the employee’s job description. This will be far more successful if you involve your employee in planning and setting goals. Begin with your department or organizational goal so that they know the critical part they play in the achievement of those goals then talk about individual goal achievement and goals achieved. You can measure intangible performance areas as well. Don’t neglect those areas. For instance, you can measure dependability by attendance records. Or you can measure initiative by the number of suggestions or independent solutions your employee produced.
Don’t forget performance development.
The purpose of the appraisal is development of better performance and results. This is the opportunity to address weaknesses and inadequacies and develop a plan for improvement. At the end of the meeting you and your employee should have not only a record of individual performance but also the record of progress toward department or organizational goals.
Many owners and managers do not realize full potential in their employees because they do not involve them in the development process. You can avoid that by practicing performance development rather than performance management.