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Annual Anxiety: The Quest for the Ideal Performance Evaluation

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Annual Anxiety: The Quest for the Ideal Performance Evaluation By: Jennifer Jensen November 1, 2001 Organizational Behavior -- Steve Lytle, professor No matter who you are, you have likely had a negative experience with an annual review. The perceptions of the rater rarely match the perceptions of the ratee, and even when they do, both parties tend to doubt the efficacy and accuracy of such tools. Many times employees are left with an impression that their boss does not really know what they do, and the boss gets the idea that the employee did not hear the message he was attempting to convey. The problem lies less with the concept of performance evaluations: more than 90% of the employees at a company concerned about performance evaluation issues, indicated that they thought honest appraisal of their performance was critical to their success. Some 40% also felt they had never received such an appraisal--despite four-fifths of those employees having at least one signed review on file! The respondents were obviously not receiving what they needed from the documented reviews. Based on the number of articles and books written on the subject, there is no lack of expert opinion. Experts tend to agree with employees that appraisals are important; the problem is none of them has the same opinion on what to do about it. The bottom line is employees want to know how they are doing, and their companies want to tell them. ...read more.


5. Timely--This aspect of goal setting is one that defines the objective in terms of getting it done. Again, it does no good to set a goal with no time limit, and further setting a goal for five years out is fine if there is some flexibility to change it, but if an employee is working for set time frame (usually a year) before the goals come due, it may be more useful to focus on goals that are achieved in that span. For Jack this might mean his goal must be met in a three, six, or twelve month period. Behaviors--Aside from identifying the performance issues, and developing goals, employees are usually expected to exhibit certain behaviors that categorize them as potential leaders. Behaviors can be learned, but they can also be difficult to classify. If an employee aggressively pushes a proposal, is that initiative or is it rude? Obviously, that depends on a number of circumstances. These can include company culture, the audience, the result, the behavior after the fact (if the proposal is rejected does the employee sulk?) Incorporating behaviors into a performance appraisal, then is certainly tricky. Many companies use a rating system that asks if an employee exhibits one behavior frequently, infrequently, or not at all. This is all well and good if the behavior is clearly defined--and the employee knows up front he is expected to exhibit it. ...read more.


In the final analysis, a performance evaluation can and should be a strategic tool that is used to positively impact employees to improve their performance and guide the company toward the development of the best employees. Without some type of process in place to capture the actual performance of an employee, it is virtually impossible to determine termination or layoff strategies, allocate promotions, or fairly give merit increases without understanding who is on the top of the heap and who is buried in the pile. The perception that performance evaluations are time consuming, de-motivating, and ineffectual can only be eradicated by a company commitment to the quest for the ideal performance evaluation. That quest must be understood and communicated to all of the employees and managers as an essential key to doing business in today's market. As companies shift the focus away from an annual accounting on the aptitude/ineptitude balance sheet, to a performance driven, goal oriented, behavior focused, well understood, quest for the improvement of employees, managers and employees alike will come to the conclusion that the ideal performance evaluation does exist--and they are fortunate enough to work for a company that not only understands the concept, but drives the process to fruition. The daily benefit of creating an environment where good performance is honored, and poor performance is eliminated, is the model that both employees and employers strive to achieve. Every person seeks to be valued for their contribution. The quest for the ideal performance evaluation is the means by which a company can recognize and appreciate that contribution. ...read more.

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