Power to the People: How to Improve Performance Appraisals

Performance management appraisals/reviews – it’s time for the mid-year “assessment.” And so the news and magazine articles are ramping up, too. Last month’s issue of Talent Management featured an opinion piece that puts the burden on you, the employee, to prove your performance worth during the review process.

Ugh. While I agree that the performance review process, in its clinical form, is a good idea (talk to people on a bi- or semi-annual basis to set goals and review progress), it quickly gets awfully messy as soon as you add humans to the mix. Why is that? The reason seems obvious to me.

If I’m sitting in the seat of the person receiving the performance appraisal, I feel the feedback I’m hearing is coming from one person’s perspective and may be calling up “old news” – stuff that happened ages ago. As the author of the Talent Management article says: “Without assistance, managers are unlikely to remember all of each employee’s valuable accomplishments.”

And if I’m sitting in the seat of the manager giving the review, I feel pressure to give meaningful, helpful feedback (both good and bad) to numerous employees, and balance that feedback objectively between them. That’s often not fair as people on my team perform very different roles.

What’s the recommendation of the article author? “You know best what you achieve. Record your accomplishments with results. When the time for your review arrives, send, in advance, a well-documented synopsis of what you have achieved to help your manager assess you fairly.”

I agree, sort-of. You are still just one data point on your achievements. I would say instead, no one knows who’s doing the best job like the people doing the job.

People – the group around you. Those you help every day and those who help you to achieve your project goals.

The challenge with the performance appraisal process is the feedback of the people is rarely captured at all, much less well. And that’s where strategic recognition comes in, especially if you apply the power of social to the recognition mix. Don’t stop at just letting employees recognize the efforts of their colleagues. Pay close attention to what they’re saying. Track, measure and report on who is recognized, how frequently and for what reasons. Now you’re gaining a much more complete picture to color your performance appraisal process.

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