Category Archives: Performance Appraisal

Continuous, Constructive Feedback

Employee performance: Continuous, constructive feedback yields results [the broken link was removed]:

Be specific. If you simply say “Good job, Frank,” Frank won’t know exactly what he did to get that atta boy. Therefore, he can’t consciously work to repeat that behavior. Instead, say something like “Frank, that new procedure you developed for handling service calls has really improved customer satisfaction. Thanks for coming up with it.”

Include coaching. Annual reviews often are used as the only performance communication tool. They give the associate a “grade,” but do they have a well-crafted development section? Do they have a plan for how you are going to partner with them to help them grow? If they do, how often do you visit the plan throughout the year to make sure it’s on track?

Exactly right. As I have discussed I don’t believe in the annual performance rating (Performance Appraisals – Is Good Execution the Solution?Performance Appraisal Problems…) so I would just skip the grade. The correct strategy, communicate and coach continually. Have defined process that are clear to everyone. Have clear expectations for what people are suppose to do and have methods to make problems visible so they can be addressed.

Related: Performance without Appraisalposts on performance managementRitz Carlton and Home DepotCustomer Focus at the Ritz

At your hotels, there are opportunities every day to provide constructive feedback for your associates’ success in the different aspects of their jobs. Whether it is technical (i.e. can’t get the bank to balance / the chicken cordon bleu isn’t to spec) or behavioral (i.e. time management / consistent follow-through), knowing these things along the way allows them to grow and support the big picture. Communication also builds trust between you and your team.

More good points. This stuff is not exactly rocket science but so few organizations do this well – even as obvious as it is.

Jeffrey Pfeffer on Evidence-Based Practices

Jeffrey Pfeffer Testifies to Congress About Evidence-Based Practices [the broken link was removed]:

In this short statement, I want to make five points as succinctly as possible, providing references for background and documentation for my arguments. First, organizations in both the public and private sector ought to base policies not on casual benchmarking, on ideology or belief, on what they have done in the past or what they are comfortable with doing, but instead should implement evidence-based management. Second, the mere prevalence or persistence of some management practice is not evidence that it works — there are numerous examples of widely diffused and quite persistent management practices, strongly advocated by practicing executives and consultants, where the systematic empirical evidence for their ineffectiveness is just overwhelming. Third, the idea that individual pay for performance will enhance organizational operations rests on a set of assumptions. Once those assumptions are spelled out and confronted with the evidence, it is clear that many — maybe all — do not hold in most organizations. Fourth, the evidence for the effectiveness of individual pay for performance is mixed, at best — not because pay systems don’t motivate behavior, but more frequently, because such systems effectively motivate the wrong behavior. And finally, the best way to encourage performance is to build a high performance culture. We know the components of such a system, and we ought to pay attention to this research and implement its findings.

Great stuff. Read the entire document. via: Bob Sutton’s Work Matters

Related: Evidence-based ManagementIllusions – Optical and Other

Books: The Knowing-Doing Gap by Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert Sutton – Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths And Total Nonsense: Profiting From Evidence-Based Management by Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert Sutton

Performance Appraisals Performance

Appraising the Performance Of Performance Appraisals [the link that IEEE broke was removed] by Harry Goldstein:

The traditional annual review covers a lot of ground: coaching and guidance for the employee, feedback and communication, compensation, staffing decisions and professional development, legal documentation, and ultimately, improvement for both the employee and the organization.

According to Jenkins and Coens, all of the above can be done better and far less painfully by untangling these functions and designing a process for each. First, they argue, companies should decouple compensation decisions from feedback about how the employee is doing. The point is that outside, or extrinsic, motivators such as money do not really work for the vast majority of employees.

One company that found that to be true is Brighton, Mich.-based Peaker Services, which rebuilds locomotive diesel engines and does application engineering work for control systems. In the past, Peaker relied on merit raises linked to annual evaluations, according to president Ian Bradbury.

Related: Deming on Management: Performance AppraisalRighter Performance AppraisalPerformance Appraisal ProblemsEric Christiansen PodcastPerformance Without AppraisalPerformance Appraisal AlternativeSo What’s System[s] Thinking by Ian Bradbury (pdf)

Performance Appraisals – Is Good Execution the Solution?

Performance review proponents say the way it is done matters most[the broken link was removed] (based on reaction to: Performance appraisals get low marks[the broken link was removed]):

Deming, it seems, has many fans. His view of performance reviews? He included them in his catalog of the “seven deadly diseases” afflicting U.S. management in the late 20th Century. Byrne referred to Deming when he wrote: “The ‘report card’ type of yearly review [does] more harm than good. Review the person and their work all through the year and skip the sit-down review. Everybody ‘needs improvement,’ so [provide feedback] daily.”

Good execution of performance appraisal is not the solution. More people are realizing that improving how performance appraisal are done is an attempt to do the wrong thing better. If you insist on doing the wrong thing, I suppose you might as well do it better but how about just not doing the wrong thing at all? What should be done? See: Performance Without Appraisal and read chapter 9 of The Leader’s Handbook.

Related: Problems Caused by Performance AppraisalDeming on Performance AppraisalPerformance Without Appraisal #2Performance Appraisal Problems

How to Prevent Innovation

Top ten tips for preventing innovation give some great ideas many companies are already doing but you may find some your company hasn’t mastered 🙂 For example:

Make performance reviews easy. Create some easy-to-measure metrics (like # of sick-days taken, # of powerpoint slides created, # of meetings attended), and use those for performance reviews. People always gravitate toward the metric. We can run the reviews with a minimum of effort, giving us more time to tell them how to do their jobs. Just an hour a year. Some managers can give feedback in 15 minutes.

The performance appraisal systems used now, are a great way to stifle innovation. If you actually want to look at encouraging innovation, see some of our posts on innovation.

Related: Better and DifferentPerformance Appraisal ProblemsQuality and Innovation Dr. Deming on Performance Appraisal

Righter Performance Appraisal

Speaking of “doing the wrong things righter” Microsoft has eliminated forced rankings in performance appraisal: to do performance appraisals righter.

Microsoft exec puts her stamp on human resources:

The forced curve was company policy. And it climbed up a list of employee gripes that grew as Microsoft’s stock, which accounts for much of the company’s compensation, languished.

In May, after barely a year as Microsoft’s human-resources chief, Lisa Brummel swept away “artifacts of the past,” starting with the widely disliked forced curve.

Good (see mini-Microsoft and our previous related post: Performance Without Appraisal), but the rest of the artifacts of the present should also be swept away.

Related: Failed Practice: Forced RankingNew Rules for Management? No!Performance Appraisal ProblemsDeming on Performance AppraisalsProblems Caused by Performance Appraisal

“The performance-management system tells you what it is in this company that we value and reward,” said Herman Aguinis, a professor of management at the University of Colorado at Denver Business School, and author of a recent book on the topic. “If you’re changing the things that you value and reward, people are going to change their behaviors accordingly, so it is a very powerful tool to change a company’s culture.”

True, so tell your people you value them for how there performance evaluation looks each year (not for them but the disembodied evaluation)? This is similar to Seth Godin’s post where he talks about hiring people based on good interviewing skills versus what is actually needed to do the job. This in not to say performance need not be managed, managers should be managing the people that work for them and the systems within the organization. The performance appraisal is just the wrong method.

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Hiring the Right People

The job market is an inefficient market. There are many reasons for this including relying on specification (this job requires a BS in Computer Science – no Bill Gates you don’t meet the spec) instead of understanding the system. Insisting on managing by the numbers even when the most important figures are unknown and maybe unknowable. Using HR to find the right person to work in a process they don’t understand (which reinforces the desire to focus on specifications instead of a more nuanced approach). The inflexibility of companies: so if a great person wants to work 32 hours a week – too bad we can’t hire them. And on and on.

At first I titled this post the Hiring Process but that creates a analytic view of the hiring process separated from the important part which is workers actually working. The hiring process just provides resources that are needed. But in many places it is the reverse, the hiring process provides resources and then the rest of the process deals with that output as best it can.

Seth Godin had a very good post recently, The end of the job interview:

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Recalls at Toyota and Sony

Recalls by Toyota and Sony shock Japan’s pride [the broken link was removed]: another article discussing the recent recalls at Toyota and Sony.

Some have also begun to blame the decline on recent American-style management changes, like performance-based pay, the end of traditional lifetime job guarantees and increased use of temporary workers in order to cut costs.

I don’t actually think this is right in Toyota’s case anyway; Toyota seems to have resisted adopting poor management practices form the west (an IT example – see the end of the post). They just need to keep trying to do better. It is very easy for management to lose its way, wherever the compnay is located.

For a time, American and European executives flocked here to learn Japanese quality-control concepts like “kaizen,” or improvement.

I like this quote, especially given our post yesterday on Mike Wroblewski’s current visit to Japan to learn about manufacturing management practices. I think there is a great deal for anyone to learn today from such visits. Yes, Toyota needs to do better but that doesn’t mean others don’t have a great deal to learn from them.
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Signs You Have a Great Job … or Not

Signs you have a great job … or not by Jeanne Sahadi

This article, while presenting an overly simplistic view in my opinion, actually provides some good reminders. The article focuses on 12 questions that seem to be the focus of a recent business book. And some of those questions provide good reminders to managers of things they should pay attention to, such as:

  • Do I know what’s expected of me at work?
  • At work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?
  • In the last 7 days, have I received recognition or praise for doing good work?
  • Is there someone at work who encourages my development?
  • Does the mission/purpose of my company make me feel my job is important?

For me, this list is more valuable than most of these types of things you see in “pop management” articles. Maybe my mood (I played some good basketball today, which always puts me a good mood) is causing me to be overly positive, but I actually think this article is worth a few minutes to read and then some reflection. Continue reading

Problems Caused by Performance Appraisal

I ran across a great article on the problems created by our common use of performance appraisal today: Unjust Deserts (pdf format) by Mary Poppendieck:

As Sue’s team instinctively realized, ranking people for merit raises pits individual employees against each other and strongly discourages collaboration, a cornerstone of Agile practices.

There is no greater de-motivator than a reward system that is perceived to be unfair.

The article does a good job of explaining these, and several more, problems caused by performance appraisal. It also provides some good thoughts on how to manage effectively, including:

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