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Managers Hate Performance Appraisal Time as Much as Employees

Submitted by  on July 4th, 2011

Shocked business woman showing NO cardHow do you feel about employee performance appraisals? Do you think there is a tension between the human resources department on the one hand and supervisors/managers on the other? In many cases, a company’s performance management system is something that is foisted upon supervisors and managers, with little to no buy in from them. The performance management system then becomes a tug of war between HR and the rest of the organization. From that point on, is it any wonder that these systems fail in being effective?

The fundamental focus shouldn’t be on what forms you use for your performance appraisals. Your real focus should be on putting in place and maintaining effective goal setting, employee feedback, and developmental mechanisms. And don’t simply concentrate on individual performance. W. Edwards Deming’s point was that if you just concentrate on individual performance, you are turning a blind eye to the systemic deficiencies that hold people back from doing an excellent job, no matter how talented and committed they are. And this is where the politics start. Some supervisors and managers don’t want to take the focus off the individual because fixing the system means (a) the focus is on the manager, and (b) it means hard work.

And then there are the managers who don’t want to waste time paying attention to their individual reports because (a) that’s not their job (It’s HR’s isn’t it?) and (b) it means developing some goal setting, communication and conflict resolutions skills. What if a manager doesn’t make the grade? My approach is: give them the opportunity to develop over, say, six months. If they fail to meet the grade, replace them. Yes, that takes political will from the managers above, and real leadership. If the leaders of the organization shy away from meeting the challenge, then the performance management system is just a nuisance promulgated by those people in HR.

In my next post on managing performance, I’ll talk more about putting a number on each person at performance appraisal time. It’s time to drop the numbers game. Stay tuned!

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