Q&A with Kristin Simpsen
Performance review practices can affect their value in business
Q: What are the pitfalls of performance evaluations?
A: Performance evaluations are often dreaded by employers and employees alike. Human resources and management usually spend a great deal of time collecting and delivering appraisals. In addition, appraisals often have a negative effect on company productivity and morale in the weeks of preparation for the reviews. Then, after reviews are given, employees may think the review process is unfair or the results of the review are inaccurate, which continues the negative morale. As a result of these hazards, some have argued for the death of performance reviews.
Q: What are the benefits of a good performance evaluation system?
A: Turnover is expensive. Good employee evaluations will identify areas of improvement for your employees. A well thought out system allows employers to ensure that employees are well matched with appropriate tasks for skill levels. Additionally, a successful system will give employees a sense of challenge and ownership in their work that is brought about by goals to improve and advance in the future. A good system will motivate and challenge employees and give employers and employees the opportunity to have a continuous dialogue about development and progress. End result: employee retention.
Q: How can an employer implement a successful performance evaluation system?
A: Transparency is one of the most important things for an effective performance evaluation system. There should be no miscommunication about what review scores mean. Set out in advance the consequences (positive and negative) of scores received. Employees should be aware that receiving a failing score will automatically trigger a performance improvement plan or dismissal. Similarly, employees should be advised if bonuses or raises are linked to positive performance. Just as important, the contents of a performance appraisal should never be a surprise. Employers should ensure that managers and supervisors are providing feedback to employees on a regular basis. Performance appraisals should simply be a means of memorializing that feedback.
Q: How can employers get their employees to be invested in the evaluation process?
A: Many performance appraisals contain a self-evaluation section, which may be nothing more than an opportunity for the employee to highlight his top achievements since the previous review period. This type of information rarely contributes insight into the actual appraisal. Instead, employers should consider requesting employees to set improvement goals for the future. This type of request may offer insight into an employee's interests, motivations, and career goals and allows employees to take ownership in their performance goals and career development.
PAULA BURKES, BUSINESS WRITER