Although all of the performance review naysayers might have you believe that the general populace despises the practice of assessing performance, my team and I are on the front line of working with people everyday who beg to differ. It is always my pleasure to speak with employees and managers after they have received performance feedback – some of it glowing, much of it developmental and growth-oriented. During performance review and regular coaching discussions, managers consider the performance feedback from various sources and perspectives and wield it into a tool, a plan really, for moving forward. More often than not these conversations become an intensely introspective exercise that provides the spark for change. Engaging in such breakthrough dialogue is only made possible by the managers and other feedback providers who sacrificed a bit of time from their lengthy to-do list to gift this individual with direct and honest feedback on their performance. In my experience, it is something that most people take seriously, and in fact are extremely grateful to have received.
Employee performance reviews are one component of the employee performance management process but they are an important part. Completing performance review and holding meaningful performance review discussions gets a lot of attention during certain times of year from managers who need to complete them and HR leaders who need to ensure they get done.
The mid year performance review is an important part of the overall employee performance management process. As my colleague Amanda Seidler wrote in a previous article, Mid-Year Reviews - The New Annual Performance Appraisal?, mid-year reviews are increasing in popularity for good reason. Conducting helpful and productive mid-year review discussions is a fundamental way in which managers can support a culture of on-going feedback and recognition, not to mention achieve better business results.
Don’t be surprised if you see the #MidYearReview hashtag trending on your Twitter screen. Mid-year performance reviews - traditionally overshadowed by their Year-End counterpart - are having their moment! (image courtesy of Twitter)
Small businesses have the same people and talent challenges that big companies do and can reap the same benefits from HR technology. The HR software available to HR leaders today makes managing people and performance easier and more effective. The bottom line is that HR software:
The self appraisal process provides unique benefits and serves some specific purposes in the employee performance management process. Including self appraisal in the performance appraisal process can help managers make more accurate performance ratings and conduct productive performance review discussions with employees, if used properly.
1. Self Appraisal Provides Managers with Vital Information for Decision Making
The employee performance management process requires managers to review and integrate performance data for a given period of time, analyze the data, and ultimately make decisions regarding ratings. Employee self appraisal is an important source of information on behavior and outcomes that may be missed over the course of the performance period. Performance feedback from peers or direct reports provides unique and specific insight on performance and the same holds true for self evaluation. Self appraisal, coupled with multi-rater feedback, provides a complete picture of performance so that managers can draw accurate conclusions regarding performance ratings.
Performance ratings provided by managers on goals and competencies are important data points in HR and leadership decision making. Performance ratings have consequences. These data points not only have an impact on compensation but are considered in promotion decisions, succession planning and the allocation of developmental resources. Inaccuracy and inconsistency can lead to legal actions and can have a significant negative impact on employee engagement, retention and overall performance. As a result, making sure performance ratings are fair and accurate is critically important.
The cyber revolt against Marissa Mayer’s telecommuting ban has been fast and furious. “Aren’t flexible working relationships, flip flops and free lunch the mainstay perks of tech companies?!” netizens shouted. While Yahoo bucking the work from home trend has largely been voted a fail across the web – even Richard Branson weighed in on his blog – this action brings to the forefront some absolutely huge employee performance management issues that must be addressed by leaders managing a virtual workforce.
Management Gone Too Far?
Although many branded the move as retro (not in a good way), Mayer likely believed that this decision was essential for moving Yahoo’s culture forward and is being employed as only one
of many reinvention strategies. While we are certainly not privy to all of the internal justifications, a Yahoo source informed All Things D (the original recipient of the leaked HR memo) that in certain cases the arrangements were allowing for lackluster performance and a focus on side projects at the expense of real work. Further, the official HR note blames working from home for sub par “speed and quality”, while insisting that physical presence in the office will enhance “communication and collaboration”, and “decisions and insights”.
These are certainly very realistic performance expectations for any organization. The problem is that this is a bandage solution and is unlikely to address the root of what is likely a leadership issue. I have some questions:
- Has Yahoo HR conducted research (as the Google People Analytics team does with PiLab) showing that telecommuting is a driver of the factors mentioned in the HR communication?
- Is there evidence that office staff are more productive than telecommuters?
- Have they drilled down into the data for specific business units, departments or managers where the issues are occurring to reinforce key leadership and managerial competencies that drive high performance and engagement?
- Have senior managers been held accountable for their virtual team’s execution of strategic objectives linked to the Yahoo reinvention?
My colleagues and I have worked with many management teams with challenging cultural issues, and in the midst of large scale organizational change efforts. Establishing and communicating specific standards of performance and holding managers and teams accountable can effectively change the direction of an organization -- sometimes overnight. It is our recommendation that Yahoo employees be evaluated on a comprehensive set of competency-based behavioral standards including, for example,
- displaying a sense of urgency in accomplishing tasks;
- maintaining regular and open lines of communication;
- making effective team-based decisions; and
- providing insights that challenge the status quo and push the organization forward.
As highlighted in a recent Harvard Business Review blog post by Keith Ferrazzi, we must avoid managing by observation – the early in, last to leave employee may not necessarily be the most productive or even a high performer . Instead, HR needs to provide senior leadership with tools for measuring both the “what” and “how” of performance. When these metrics are utilized the “where” factor is not important – after all, one virtual employee may sacrifice quality to avoid missing yoga, while another is scheduling conference calls with Australia at 10 p.m. to close deals. The most effective way to measure performance is always about both goal accomplishment and the behavioral competencies one utilizes in their work. Both are readily measured when done correctly, even during “virtual observation”.
Performance Feedback Fatigue?
If all of those ratings, comment reviews, and one-on-one meetings have left you with a bad case of feedback fatigue, you needn’t worry – it is about time to put it all to rest. Before you call it a wrap though, use this time to conduct a post-mortem audit that will help identify what worked best – and what must be changed going forward.