A few years ago, I had the opportunity to speak at Chief Talent Officer Exchange about the Performance Review Shakeup. The debate was raging at the time, captured in articles, roundtables, and symposiums. The discussions were often challenging the value and effectiveness of performance management and even more specifically, the appraisal process. With this as a backdrop, companies were eliminating ratings from their performance appraisals and, in other cases, eliminating the performance appraisal process entirely. Since that time, some companies have declared the latter to be a mistake and as a result are still striving to make sense of the performance universe.
Within the context of a broader performance management system, performance appraisals should not be inherently problematic. They become problematic however, when companies use poorly designed appraisal tools, when formal education on the delivery of performance conversations is lacking and when the process itself lives in a static environment – the “set-it, forget-it” approach. Combined, these forces all too often become a distraction in the workplace. The preparation and delivery can be anxiety-producing for all parties and the conversations can leave people feeling deflated. The result being that appraisals are often viewed as counterproductive, a waste of valuable time and amount to nothing more than a requirement.
Conversely, a well-designed performance management ecosystem can yield very different and positive outcomes. Within this ecosystem, we better engage the workforce by explaining what good looks like in action. Tools are developed to measure various dimensions of performance and leaders are educated to deliver effective performance development conversations. We also upshift the cadence of these conversations. Last, we factor both people’s effort and results into the equation, establishing a more holistic approach. All of this exists in an environment where continuous learning is the philosophy – a continuous performance management system. Transparency and simplicity become the ultimate normalizers.
There’s no doubt that achieving this level of optimization takes an organization’s collective energy and commitment, but it is within reach. Fewer surprises, less distraction and more thriving across organizations are outcomes we can all appreciate.
Elevate Human Capital LLC