viaPeople Insight - Performance Management & Succession Planning Blog

If Performance Evaluation is Broken then Fix It!

Posted by Karen N. Caruso, Ph.D. on May 2, 2011 10:29:00 AM

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Performance Evaluation Broken resized 600A Q & A Session with CEO of viaPeople, Inc. Jim Perry.....

Amanda Seidler, Ph.D., Senior Consultant, recently sat down to speak with Jim to discuss his thoughts on the current state of Performance Evaluation. Jim shares his candid advice for organizations struggling with the effectiveness of their Performance Evaluation initiatives.

(AS) Amanda Seidler, Senior Consultant viaPeople, Inc.: Good morning, Jim. Thank you for sitting down with me  to discuss the ongoing issues with Performance Evaluation.

(JP) Jim Perry, CEO viaPeople, Inc.: Thank you. This is an important issue that needs to be addressed by organizations.

(AS): Why do you think that Performance Evaluation strikes a nerve with so many?

(JP): There is so much debate and controversy over the value of performance evaluations.  While it has always been a challenging issue for organizations, I am surprised at the amount being written about the value of Performance Evaluation.   

(AS): Is this a fail for Human Resources ?

(JP): HR plays a part and is ultimately responsible for providing managers with effective tools and helpful support, of course. But the failure and how to address it is a larger organizational issue. We first need to ask the right question: why isn’t this embraced as an opportunity to develop and improve the entire organization? 

(AS): I would guess that the focus is solely on paying for performance instead of where it should be?

(JP): That is definitely part of it – get them written, pay out bonuses, and be done with it. In my 25 years of working in large corporations I have found that the same Performance Evaluation issues always seem to crop up…

  • It is a requirement from HR -- a chore not cherished.
  • It happens once a year and is unrelated to the actual job.
  • Managers do it because they have to, not because they want to.
  • And quite typically, the process is concluded, nothing happens, and it is back to the daily grind.

So in essence, the organization has wasted everyone’s time with an initiative that leads nowhere. 

(AS): What can organizational and HR leaders do to bring the focus of Performance Evaluation around to development?

(JP): There are many ways to fix this.

  • The importance of performance evaluation starts at the C-Level. If the leadership team is not on board, no one else will be.
  • Performance feedback and people development needs to be a key leadership responsibility. I would recommend that at least 25% of a leader’s goals should be focused on the development of human capital.
  • HR should spend some time creating unique appraisals that fit the job description or the specific function. This is not a case of “one size fits all”.
  • Leadership should clearly communicate the expectations and goals that will be measured during the Performance Evaluation process. Do this at least 6 months out so that people have this in mind while they are working towards their individual goals.
  • Finally, it should be an “always on” continuous process. An annual process has no chance of providing people with a comprehensive view of their performance.

(AS):  Some very high stakes for a solid Performance Evaluation process. That certainly gives organizational leaders some areas of the process to re-evaluate. Will retooling Performance Evaluation be worth their efforts?

(JP): Performance evaluation when done well improves employee engagement, morale and productivity.  When done poorly it demotivates your best performers, contributes to retention risk and fuels anxiety.

(AS):  Thank you again Jim for your time and valuable advice that is sure to help organizational leaders address this issue more effectively.

What are your thoughts?

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Topics: Performance Management, Performance Evaluation