Performance appraisals are always controversial. One school of thought says that they should be mandatory while others think that they are a waste of time. Most managers and executives that I have worked with dread writing and delivering appraisals and, in many cases, just ignore them.

When done thoughtfully and timely, appraisals can be one of the most valuable management tools that are available to you. So why all the controversy?

Many, if not most managers are not close enough to their employees to really be good judges of their performance. They get consumed by their own work and do not allocate time to coach and develop their people. Accountability can be spotty because many are confrontation averse and employees are left to decide for themselves what success looks like. In my experience, the more senior the manager, the worse the Performance Appraisals are.

So, what are we to do? In a recent post titled “Developing Specific Business Disciplines”, I referenced a goal based system that I recommend to all of my clients.

This is a methodology where monthly, quarterly and annual goals are negotiated with employees and a quantitative way of measurement is agreed upon. Teams meet twice monthly to measure progress, make adjustments and development corrective action plans is a team member is falling behind. Goal categories are limited to only the vital few areas of the work which are essential to the success of the function.

Using this system, employees attend meetings and come prepared to report on their goals (since they were negotiated and they own them) as opposed to the manager “holding court” and telling everyone how they are doing. This simple change can make a major improvement in the performance of individuals and teams.

Now imagine, as a manager, having a 12 month rolling record of individual performance on each of your employees, and they actually generated the reports.

This data is easily 70 to 80 percent of the Performance Appraisal and the manager has had to do absolutely nothing. Now, time can be spent of developmental issues and career pathing with employees.

Think about investing some time in making Performance Appraisals really work for you and your employees.

As a manager or executive, these annual or semi-annual one-on-one meetings should be something you look forward to and not something to dread.



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