Successful performance discussions that include coaching may be the single most important factor for employee retention, job satisfaction, and productivity. The brief bursts of time spent in these sessions will provide a hundredfold return in employee personal satisfaction and retention and in improved productivity. But what I most often discover during my consulting and teambuilding workshops are the absence of performance discussions with employees and the lack of an effective performance appraisal process.
The performance appraisal event is such a misunderstood process, and it tends to be ignored rather than explored. An effective performance appraisal includes an accurate assessment of performance, a clear communication of achievement against goals, the establishment of future goals, and a plan for career development. Coaching and career development are critical to attracting, retaining, and motivating successful employees.
But performance feedback cannot be left to the once a year get together. Each workday gives the owner/manager opportunities to provide praise, reward, and corrective guidance. The best results are achieved if these conversations take place at the moment the action is observed. The effect of positive reinforcement or instant correction is lost when it is postponed.
Although there should be continual verbal interaction about performance, there still needs to be a formal review of performance. On a regular basis, usually once a year, the owner/manager and the employee should sit down and review performance, progress, goals, and growth. These events must be prepared for by both the owner/manager and the employee. They cannot be successful if either party is winging it.
A Better Way
For many managers, conducting the performance appraisal is a stressful event. TG & Associates offers the Thomas360 review process, an online assessment tool that allows individuals who know something about a person to rate their leadership or sales performance. The process can incorporate the comments of direct reports, peers, managers, and even customers into a detailed feedback report that can raise individual self-awareness and create an opportunity for individual development and improved team effectiveness.
It only takes 15 to 30 minutes for each rating, yet the result is more meaningful than the traditional written performance appraisal process.
The intent is to include this process within a corporate leaning culture and shift away from the traditional performance culture. An organizational culture is defined by the values, expectations, and behaviors that are shared by members of the organization; in short: the way we do things around here. When the organizational culture is a learning culture, the key mindset of members of the organization is that individual, team, and organizational learning are important parts of each member’s work. Therefore, the organizational culture supports continuous improvement and learning.
The value to the recipient of this 360 degree feedback is significant. It helps:
• Develop an awareness of the recipient’s perceived behavior within the workplace
• Focus on changes that the recipient needs to make in order to develop
• Provide information that allows the recipient to build upon what he or she does well
• Allow the recipient the opportunity to explore the reasons for the scoring
• Pave the way for the recipient to take action
• Give the recipient the opportunity to take responsibility for his or her own development
Performance feedback is one of the key elements of employee development and retention. Employees want to know how they are doing. But as I stated earlier, it can’t be just once a year. It must be timely to the need and it must be appropriate. On the other hand, the annual review should be more focused on the growth and development of the employee. It is a long term examination to find ways to make the employee a strong member of the team. Prepare for it properly and execute it in a manner that demonstrates your concern for the employee’s future and welfare.