viaPeople Insight - Performance Management & Succession Planning Blog

Identifying and Removing Blockers Using the 9 Box Grid

Jun 4, 2014 2:20:00 PM / by Karen Caruso, Ph.D. posted in Succession Planning, High Potentials, 9 Box


What is a Blocker?

A blocker is an employee who is preventing or “blocking” others from moving into a key position. Key positions serve as critical steps in a career path or offer a unique set of developmental experiences required for other roles in the organization. Companies should seek to fill key positions with high performing, high potential employees. We use the term blocker to describe individuals who are performing at or above expectations in a key position however they do not want to move out of the role for a variety of reasons. The individual may enjoy the role, may not have a desire to work additional hours or relocate, or do not have an interest in learning new skills and taking on additional responsibilities. The lack of desire to take on a new role or move to a new position limits their future potential, as well as the potential of others in the organization.

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Product Feature Spotlight - Performance Rating Calibration

Apr 28, 2014 4:38:00 PM / by Karen Caruso, Ph.D. posted in 360 Degree Feedback, Performance Evaluation, Performance Calibration, Product Feature Spotlight

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viaPeople's Rating Calibration Feature Instantly Compares Performance Across Teams

HR software should not only make things easier but also help you to improve your processes. viaPeople's team of Industrial Organizational Psychologists have designed the Performance Rating Calibration feature to ensure consistency and fairness in the evaluation of critical performance factors. Here is how it works:

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The Ultimate Plan for Tackling Poor Employee Performance

Apr 21, 2014 8:19:00 AM / by Karen Caruso, Ph.D. posted in Performance Management, performance feedback, Improving Performance


Addressing poor employee performance is probably one of the most stressful and least appealing aspects of being a leader. Not tackling a performance problem in its early stages is a pitfall that some managers fall into, for any number of reasons. I have heard countless reasons (excuses) why poor employee performance has been overlooked with the five most common being:

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Build a Better Performance Review - Integrate Multi-Rater Feedback

Mar 28, 2014 9:01:00 AM / by Amanda Seidler posted in 360 Degree Feedback, Performance Evaluation

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Build a Better Performance Review

Integrating feedback from multiple raters (i.e., peers, direct reports, customers) in the performance appraisal process is becoming an increasingly popular practice. Direct reports (e.g., upward feedback) and peers provide provide valuable and unique viewpoints and perspectives on performance that may not otherwise be observed by managers. Feedback from multiple raters offers managers the opportunity to build a complete picture of performance.

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How to Implement Upward Feedback in the Performance Appraisal Process

Mar 10, 2014 9:28:00 AM / by Karen Caruso, Ph.D. posted in Performance Evaluation, Upward Feedback

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Integrating upward feedback into the performance appraisal process can transform the traditional review process. In a recent article, Improve Performance Appraisals with Upward Feedback, I recently wrote about the powerful benefits that can be achieved, including:

  • Increased accuracy of leadership performance ratings,
  • Improved leadership performance through targeted feedback and development plans,
  • Early identification of great/problematic leaders through objective insight, and
  • The development of a feedback-rich organizational culture.

Despite the effectiveness of upward feedback, many organizational leaders still express concerns about including feedback from direct reports in the process of evaluating leadership performance. The 3 greatest concerns that I have heard expressed by upward feedback critics are:

  1. Employee Fear of Identification – Employees will be nervous about providing candid feedback about their managers for fear that their manager will be able to identify what they said. As a result, the feedback offered by direct reports will be less than truthful and positively skewed.
  2. Lack of Skills - Most employees do not have the requisite skills to accurately rate performance and provide objective and constructive commentary. As a result, the feedback gathered from direct reports as a part of upward feedback is not accurate or helpful.
  3. Gaming the System -Managers will naturally feel anxious about receiving feedback from their direct reports on their performance and will therefore take steps to influence their ratings. They may take action to make a recent positive impression on direct reports or even offer something in exchange for ratings.

5 Tips for Effectively Implementing Upward Feedback

If implemented properly, organizations can avoid the 3 concerns described above and take full advantage of upward feedback.

  1. Build Support for the Upward Feedback Process. Provide orientation and communication to help people managers understand the benefits of upward feedback. We cannot expect people managers to be open to the process if they do not connect with the ways in which it will help them to be better leaders. When managers are open and convey a positive outlook about the process, employees will feel more comfortable in offering their feedback.
  2. Target Feedback - Employees are best able to evaluate very specific aspects of their manager's performance. As such, ask employees to offer feedback on performance criteria or competencies that they have the opportunity to observe, for example providing direction, communication, coaching, and managing performance. Read more about the specific leadership behaviors that influence employees in Leadership Competencies Impact Employee Performance - Making the Connection.
  3. Ensure Anonymity - In order to optimize the accuracy of upward feedback, employee anonymity must be protected. As in any change process, steps should be taken to communicate and reinforce anonymity in every phase of the process. Online performance management systems can make it easy for organizations to limit access rights and ensure the anonymity of data.
  4. Offer Feedback Tools - Prepare employees to offer feedback that is professional, helpful and constructive during the upward feedback process by giving them the resources they need. Consider offering training webinars and just-in-time job aids to assist employees making ratings and crafting comments. This orientation should include tips for making accurate ratings, avoiding rater biases, and guidance on how to write objective comments.
  5. Make Sure Managers Use Their Feedback - While gaining the support of people managers for implementing upward feedback is a critical first step, organizations must also equip them to understand and take action on the feedback received. If leaders do not take it to heart and work to address potential performance issues, employees will be less likely to offer helpful feedback in the future. Organizations can approach the upward feedback process in the same way they would a 360 degree feedback process.  The steps outlined in 7 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your 360 Degree Feedback is a good place to start.

viaPeople's Performance Management software can make it easy for you to implement upward feedback in your company. Click below to see it in action!

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Benefits of the 90 Day Performance Review

Mar 5, 2014 7:04:00 AM / by Karen Caruso, Ph.D. posted in Performance Management, Performance Evaluation


The 90 day performance review is conducted by many organizations after an employee (new hire or transferred employee) starts a new position. Some organizations require a 90 day performance review as it marks the end of a formal ‘probationary period’ for new hires but many organizations have adopted the process as a part of sound talent management practice. While it may seem like an additional administrative formality, the 90 day review should be included as an essential step in the onboarding process as it offers employees, managers and the organization several important benefits. 

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Improve Performance Appraisals With Upward Feedback

Feb 25, 2014 7:42:00 AM / by Karen Caruso, Ph.D. posted in Performance Management, Performance Evaluation, Upward Feedback


Traditional performance appraisals that simply rely on manager ratings tend to focus on outcomes or individual achievements. This type of performance appraisal offers limited perspective on the wide range of performance factors that are important for leaders. The integration of upward feedback into the performance appraisal process not only helps to build a complete picture of individual leadership performance, but also offers 4 other key benefits.

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How Performance Reviews Shape Your Relationship With Your Employees

Feb 21, 2014 8:28:00 AM / by Karen Caruso, Ph.D. posted in Performance Management, Employee Engagement


Annual performance reviews are typically viewed as a dreaded business activity and for good reason. When employee performance is evaluated and discussed just once a year, a lot of things can go wrong. However the performance review discussion can be a powerful tool in building the employee-manager relationship when it is part of a continuous performance management strategy.

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7 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your 360 Degree Feedback Process

Feb 17, 2014 2:03:00 PM / by Karen Caruso, Ph.D. posted in 360 Degree Feedback, Development Planning


Improve Your Leadership Skills Through 360 Degree Feedback

Research has consistently shown that the receipt of 360 degree feedback results in positive behavior change. As a leader receiving 360 feedback, the results that you achieve are going to be directly related to the actions you take in response to your feedback results. Follow the 7 steps outlined below to realize the benefits of the process and achieve your career goals.

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Leadership Competencies Impact Employee Performance - Making the Connection

Jan 31, 2014 2:23:00 PM / by Karen Caruso, Ph.D. posted in Performance Management, Employee Engagement, Upward Feedback, Competency Models


Leaders Should Engage to Retain and Drive Employee Performance

According to a recent survey conducted by Right Management, an astonishing 83% of the North American employees polled indicated that they plan to actively seek a new position in 2014. In addition, Harvard Business Review published a research report in 2013 which indicated that 71% of the 550 executives surveyed, placed employee engagement as a key factor in their ability to achieve organizational success. However, only 24% of these same executives indicated that they believe their workforce is highly engaged. These two sets of findings provide a great deal of insight into the job satisfaction levels of employees, as well as point to a need for organizational leaders to make employee engagement a priority.

Employee engagement is not just important for retention; employee engagement has consistently been linked to employee and business performance. While senior leaders play a major role in creating a culture that facilitates employee engagement, the employee-manager relationship is even more critical - specifically, the way in which managers continuously manage the performance and development of employees. Unfortunately, recent research by Dale Carnegie found that 80% of employees who were disengaged were also dissatisfied with their current manager.

Employee Performance Management is a Key Leadership Competency

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