Posted on

Appraisal Time: a Polemic

The Management Pocketbooks Pocket Correspondence Course

This is part of an extended management course. You can dip into it, or follow the course from the start. If you do that, you may want a course notebook, for the exercises and any notes you want to make.


Appraisals are one of the least enjoyed aspects of organisational life: few people enjoy conducting them and still fewer like attending them. Often they are done badly and many times this is largely due to a poor internal process, supported by weak (or absent) training and confounded by other pressing business priorities.

So an important part of career development, skills acquisition, organisational growth and good governance, gets squeezed into 25 minutes of of a rushed conversation, ticking of boxes and a superficial assessment followed by formulaic goal setting, stipulating weak goals.

Sound familiar?

I have only one message for this module:

‘Performance Appraisal is Important’

So give it the preparation and the time it deserves, do it well – by asking good questions, and listening hard. Whether your internal process is good, bad or absent, make it your priority to sit down with your team members quarterly and discuss openly:

  • what they have done
  • how each of you assesses their performance
  • what you each want from the next period and for the next one to three years
  • what goals will help them achieve these
  • what their realistic and stretch prospects are

It is not neuroscience, rocket science nor even high school chemistry. Doing a good appraisal requires only two things:

  1. That you care
  2. That you deploy a dose of common sense

Polemic Over: Onto Process

Your organisation will have its own specific process. Frank Scott-Lennon gives us a good generic one in the Appraisals Pocketbook.

Appraisal Process

Revision

We have already covered the tools you need, earlier in the Pocket Correspondence course, so work your way back through…

 

Further Reading 

Share this:
Posted on

Let’s sort out poor performance, Part 2: Turnaround

Last week, we introduced the three components of managing poor performance and dealt with the first one:

  1. The infrastructure you will need
  2. The techniques to turn poor performance around
  3. What to do if you cannot turn the poor performance around

This week, it’s the turn of techniques to turn poor performance around.

Poor Performance

Performance Turnaround Toolbox

The toolbox analogy that Pam Jones describes in The Performance Management Pocketbook is a good one and some of the tools she details in her book are particularly relevant here: feedback, coaching and motivating, in particular.

Let’s list some of the tools in your performance turnaround toolbox.

Feedback

First and foremost, we need to provide open, honest, clear, and factual feedback to the under-performer, about the nature and level of their performance.  Do it early and the problem will be smaller.  Often an early intervention here can bring about swift changes or a genuine request for help, alerting you to causal conditions that you may be able to help with, or at least take account of.

Coaching

For my money, coaching is one of the most powerful ways to support poor performers – as it is to support average, good and excellent performers.  If you don’t have the skills, there are lots of sources of help – not least, the Coaching Pocketbook.  On a recent training course about Performance Coaching, the feedback I had was that this is, itself, a very powerful tool set for managers at all levels.

Goal-setting

Clearly a part of any coaching process, whether you coach or not, you must agree performance goals with the under-performer that are attainable and acceptable to the organisation.  I recommend tiered goals, incrementing in performance level month-by-month, until basic performance standards are achieved.  Why stop there?  If the process works, continue it until the performer reaches their maximum performance capacity.

Resource review

Look at the resources available to the under-performer in their workplace and ensure that they represent all that the performer needs, to succeed.  If not, take rapid remedial action.

Support

What support can you, other managers, and the performer’s colleagues offer them, to help them to tackle their poor performance?

Training/Re-training

Evaluate whether the poor performer needs further training or re-training to address their performance issues.  But do not accept a training course as a panacea: you must place it in the context of goals, support and a regular performance evaluation process, to help them to embed their learning into new practices.

Incentives

You may want to consider incentives – or even their flip-side, penalties.  You should not need to and, if you do, ensure that these will fall wholly within your organisation’s policies.

Job re-structuring

One option is always to re-structure the under-performer’s job either temporarily or permanently, to allow them to perform more effectively.

Re-deployment

Even more radical is the possibility of re-deploying the poor performer into a new role that they can thrive at.  Be careful though: don’t use this as a means to off-load trouble on other managers.  Also be aware that you cannot lawfully change someone’s contract without their consent in most jurisdictions (all?), so only do this after careful consultation with your HR experts and maybe even an HR lawyer.

Options Review

As a last resort, you need to work towards reviewing your poor performer’s wider options with them.  This is, of course, a euphemistic way of alluding to next week’s post about what to do if you cannot create a turnaround.

Management Pocketbooks you might enjoy

Share this: