Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Catch 22 of Performance AppraisalsA short article byChris Dennis

Relationship building is essential in the learning and information sharing process.

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As a manager how do you both judge and motivate the employee during the annual performance appraisal?
The documentation characterizing performance appraisal in the work environment, as a dismal failure, is ubiquitous and need not be repeated here. Both the boss and the employee are not clear on the intent, value or appropriate process for performance reviews. What is more interesting is why it has failed to significantly enhance organizational productivity which can be its basic byproduct if the players know what they are doing and why they are doing it!

The problem is functionaries who design performance appraisal systems are more interested in design of the form than its real purpose, i.e. to improve productivity for the individual, team and organization. Typical performance review forms contain a plethora of arbitrary and mostly generic performance characteristics that are laid on” the targeted work group. Included will be some rating scheme to summarize overall performance as supporting documentation for a salary increase. While it sounds logical, it undermines the need for speed in problem solving and cannot begin to justify the expense to implement.

Why not?

If any organization is to survive they must protect and enhance their “core technology, (What they do best) and to do so they must capture new learning as quickly as possible. Learning or discoveries occur at random, at multiple levels, in the daily work experience but are often overlooked or forgotten. When performance appraisals are generic and recorded once a year it’s unlikely that game changing seminal organizational learning takes place. A system that can instantaneously record key result and recognize key players for work well done is needed.

Managers and employees are often confused on their roles in the review process. While the manager may want to motivate the employee there is the question as to the employees ability and willingness to do the job and the degree of trust established between the two. Relationship building is essential in the learning and information sharing process.

Building effective relationships between individuals, teams, the organization and their key stake holders is essential, especially in todays market place. The focus is on collaborative goal setting, followup, trust building and increased learning, with results often exceeding expectations. Trust is the key motivator as once it is established most people will work tirelessly to maintain it. Trust is what builds top performing teams and organizations.

A well designed system with real time feedback that involves the employee in goal setting and appraisal of results will avoid surprises at year end during an annual review.  The employee is the first to know and score progress on objectives month by month and thus makes it unnecessary for the manager to make unilateral decisions with limited information retrospectively. Realtime feedback on key results contributes to innovation and quick response time, aiding productivity. This process facilitates collaboration, openness, accountability and builds trust which leads to creativity, a competitive advantage unlikely to be replicated.


Christopher Dennis Masters in Organiztional Development from American University, Bachelors of Psychology from Wichita State University is a collaborator of DeDominic & Associates and a global consultant on Organizational Development.  He was Senior Vice President of W.R. Grace & Company for over 20 years.   If you would like to set up a complimentary consultation, please call our office to schedule a skype or personal meeting.

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