Magazine article Security Management

Putting the Praise in Appraisals: Managers Need to Establish a Well-Thought-Out Performance-Appraisal System, Set Clear Goals, Conduct Timely Reviews, and Develop Follow-Up Action Plans

Magazine article Security Management

Putting the Praise in Appraisals: Managers Need to Establish a Well-Thought-Out Performance-Appraisal System, Set Clear Goals, Conduct Timely Reviews, and Develop Follow-Up Action Plans

Article excerpt

Employees who need direction rely on their leaders to give them feedback about their performance and to mentor them. But leaders are often not prepared or trained to conduct the type of employee review that ensures employee development. Instead, the appraisals become confrontational and judgmental; goals are not clear; neither person is prepared; and the discussion of problems occurs when it's too late to do anything about them.

To avoid that type of scenario, managers need to establish a well-thought-out performance-appraisal system, set clear goals, conduct timely reviews, and develop follow-up action plans.

THE SYSTEM. The first step toward developing an effective performance-appraisal system is to have clearly defined job descriptions that specify the tasks, functions, and responsibilities of each job. Many organizations start by defining roles and responsibilities as they relate to the level the person holds in the organization such as executive, manager, or employee. Other companies choose competencies that address certain functions of the organization, such as accounting, manufacturing, human resources, or sales.

Once decision makers have defined the job, the next step is to decide how to measure performance, also referred to as measuring competencies. Usually competencies relate to one of four issues: the ability to get results, the capacity to form relationships, the ability to make decisions, and the quality of leadership. Specific competencies might also include business acumen, integrity, and teamwork. There should be eight to ten competencies on which a person's performance can be assessed.

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The next step is to establish a rating scale. The most basic approach is a three-point scale, with the highest rating of three points indicating that the employee exceeds expectations in that category; two points means the employee meets expectations; and one point means that the employee fails to meet expectations.

A better option, however, may be a four-point scale, because it gives more options for evaluation and prevents the evaluator from relying on a middle-of-the-road review.

Once the criteria for evaluation have been determined, the decision makers need to set the timeline for when reviews will be conducted.

In general, four meetings per year work well. The first is a goal-setting meeting, the second addresses progress on the goals, the third brings up any problems that might interfere with the end-of-the-year appraisal, and the final one ties the progress to rewards. This approach does not preclude ongoing feedback, which should be given to employees between these formal appraisal meetings. The more frequent that the feedback employees receive is, the greater will be their productivity and morale. That result more than compensates for the time committed to this process.

GOALS. Goal setting ties individual performance to the organization's mission, vision, and values and links short-term objectives to long-term targets. Staff will be most committed to goals they helped construct. Supervisors should, therefore, work with each employee to clarify and tailor that person's goals.

A clear statement of the goals is also important. Well-written goals create opportunities for objective, fair dialogue; they define the scorecard that will be used to determine rewards; they energize and motivate; and they focus efforts.

Goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. Specific and measurable means that the goal is concrete, clear, and descriptive to the point that results can be measured. For instance, giving feedback that an employee "needs to be more positive and have a better attitude" is not helpful. Identifying the particular behaviors in need of improvement is a better option. For example, the supervisor might point out that the employee should greet customers, smile, and say "thank you" more often. …

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