Performance Jitters

By Bowes, Barb | Winnipeg Free Press, June 1, 2013 | Go to article overview

Performance Jitters


Bowes, Barb, Winnipeg Free Press


Talent development is better way to assess employee strengths

June -- it's that time of year again for report cards and performance reviews! And, if your employees are blurting out, "Ugh, oh no, not that time already" and you are seeing them physically cringe, I'd like to suggest that you might well be holding on to an outdated philosophy about employee performance management.

If that's indeed the case, then you are also more than likely applying outdated performance appraisal tools. In fact, the term performance management itself is now considered by many leaders to be old and worn out.

That's because in many cases, the concept of performance management and the performance appraisal process itself has more often than not been isolated and only loosely connected to an organization's overall business goals and objectives. In other words, employee reviews get hung up in various departments and are rarely examined from a global performance improvement perspective. Thus, sad to say, the entire practice of performance management in many organizations is being viewed as nothing more than a useless administrative exercise engineered by human resource managers.

When this approach continues to live on in an organization, employees are disconnected to the larger corporate goals and they rarely understand how their contributions are connected to business success. The result is that both managers and employees alike grow to hate and/or fear this annual process. Employees see and resent the performance review as a top-down exercise. Many managers on the other hand, often don't feel comfortable in the role of evaluators and so they will delay and then have to rush through the completion of their reviews. In either case, the review process is not a pleasant or helpful experience for all concerned.

Thankfully, the views of performance management have been changing for the better. We no longer focus on only one right way to do things; instead, we encourage employees to be creative, to challenge the status quo and to recommend improvements. We strive to create self-motivation and team collaboration rather than the suffering created under the old-fashioned, command and control management approach. Finally, we are now turning our attention away from the term performance management and focusing instead on talent development.

As a result, leaders are paying more attention to the importance of clearly linking their talent development (performance management) to business goals and objectives. They now clearly see that employee performance has both elements of risk and reward. For instance, if employees are not engaged in doing the right tasks at the right time but instead are engaged in unauthorized or unnecessary actions, then the risk to strategic business objectives is increased.

One of the results of the focus on talent development has been the creation of new tools for the performance appraisal process. In particular, the application of competencies within the performance appraisal format has proven to be very effective not only from an appraisal perspective but also from a developmental perspective.

The difference between the competency model and the old appraisal format is that each of the areas being rated are clearly defined and accompanied by clear descriptions. Each competency outlines cumulative proficiency-oriented descriptions for each job level ranging from entry level to those of more complexity and of a longer time frame. …

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