viaPeople Insight - Performance Management & Succession Planning Blog

Scarier than Ghosts and Goblins: The Dark Truth about Performance Appraisal

Posted by Amanda Seidler on Oct 28, 2011 6:30:00 AM

performance appraisal processBusiness these days is set to drive, forward, full-speed ahead. However, this is only one reason why Human Resources has such a difficult time getting managers to focus on the Year End Performance Appraisal Process every Fall season. While everyone understands the importance of reviewing performance at year-end, it seems so difficult to make time for this with our constant forward-focused vision and “stay ahead of what’s around the bend” attitude.

There is, however, a darker, more terrifying reason that people generally avoid discussing -  for fear that we have no reasonable solution. Managers will readily deny that they dislike the performance appraisal process because they simply cannot remember enough of performance information to accurately evaluate each team member’s performance against critical strategic goals. It is a truth that can no longer in good conscience be ignored – not with the plethora of tools we have available to aid our memories.

We do know from Social Psychology that we generally have terrible memories; even worse, we think they are just fine. We fall victim to recency related errors where we remember only recent performance examples, and confirmatory bias where we recall selective information that turns out to uphold our preconceived biases, and all sorts of other memory errors. Combine all of this with the fact that we are asking busy managers to accurately recall performance notes on an entire team of direct reports over a 6-12 month time span and we should no longer wonder why the oft-dreaded Year End Performance Appraisal is incomplete at best and incredibly inaccurate at worst. And it’s not just managers who end up with performance memory decay; our own self-evaluations utilize our sometimes fallible self memory system which allows everything from emotion to how we recollect a particular event to influence the accuracy of factual details.

It turns out that technology has come to the rescue in the form of Memory Engineering -- technology that supports accurate recall is all the rage in the social site set. With all of our status updates, check-in’s, Tweets, and posts we are effortlessly forming a more complete log of our life for later examination. This type of Memory Engineering is the answer to the scary state of inaccuracy in the Employee Performance Management space. With technology we can provide a similar effortless feel to manage goals/objectives throughout the year with Goal Setting and Development Planning tools; to provide performance check-in’s with micro-feedback; and to carry all of this information through in a format that allows managers to easily sift through the voluminous dataset during the Year End Performance Appraisal.

My clients who use our Employee Performance Management technology are enjoying a little slice of heaven right now as they burn through their appraisal task-list. They can simply import the goals and all associated performance notes, deliverables, interim reviews, etc. already recorded into the Year End Performance Appraisal. Similarly, micro-feedback has been easily transferred and referenced to provide a more complete picture of performance over the year. Lastly, all of the performance appraisals are archived come 2012 and provided as pop-up’s on the same page of next year’s evaluation process. Over time, our clients are able to realize the incredible value of this readily accessible performance history and give their Managers access to a wealth of information to provide more comprehensive and accurate reviews.

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Topics: Performance Management, Performance Evaluation