Management Performance Evaluation
The Florida Annual Conference encourages all individuals in a supervisory capacity conduct at least an annual performance assessment of every employee they supervise. Do you and your employees both dread this obligatory annual process? If so, then read on as here are a few suggestions for making this process more productive and less stressful for both managers and employees.
Performance management is an alternative approach that encourages managers to provide constant feedback to their subordinates on their performance throughout the year. This ongoing process of communication between a supervisor and employee occurs throughout the year (generally at least quarterly) and offers an opportunity to identify and solve performance issues in real-time, discuss professional development opportunities, and to identify options for acquisition of new skills and knowledge to foster performance improvement. This approach utilizes ongoing dialogue between supervisors and employees around setting objectives, identifying goals, providing feedback, and evaluating results. This approach has been demonstrated to improve employee commitment and cooperation and avoid the “gotcha” syndrome when performance issues are not addressed until the annual appraisal is conducted. Remember, the appraisal also provides appropriate documentation to support any recommended merit increases and/or other performance-based awards.
Performance reviews are critical to ensuring the mutual needs of the employee and organization are being met. Performance reviews help supervisors feel more honest in their relationships with their subordinates and feel better about themselves in their supervisory roles. Subordinates are given a clear understanding of what's expected from them, their own personal strengths and areas for development and a solid sense of their relationship with their supervisor. Avoiding performance issues ultimately decreases morale, decreases credibility of management, decreases the organization's overall effectiveness and wastes more of management's time to do what isn't being done properly.
Here are the steps to prepare for a successful performance review.
Preparation and Planning
If you invest time on the front end it will improve the employee appraisal process. I understand that this may feel as if it’s too time consuming. However, once the foundation of developmental goals is in place – the time to conduct the appraisal decreases. Tell the employee that you're initiating a scheduled performance review. Remind them of what's involved in the process. Schedule a meeting about two weeks out.
1. Define performance goals with measurable outcomes.
2. Define the priority of each job responsibility and goal.
3. Hold interim discussions and provide feedback about employee performance as often as you can and summarize the discussion for your file. You should hold these discussions at least quarterly. (Provide positive and constructive feedback.)
4. Maintain a record of performance through critical incident reports. (Jot notes about contributions or problems throughout the quarter, in an employee file.)
5. Provide the opportunity for broader feedback. Solicit feedback from peers and co-workers and incorporate that into the discussion.
6. Develop and administer a coaching and improvement plan if the employee is not meeting expectations.
Immediate Preparation for the Performance Appraisal Discussion
1. Schedule the Performance appraisal meeting and ask the staff member to prepare for the meeting by conducting a self-assessment.
2. The supervisor prepares for the meeting by collecting data including work records, reports, and input from others familiar with the staff person’s work.
3. The Supervisor should complete the assessment tool prior to the meeting. Remember to record major accomplishments, exhibited strengths and weaknesses according to the dimensions on the appraisal form, and suggest actions and training or development to improve performance. Use examples of behaviors wherever you can in the appraisal to help avoid counting on hearsay. Always address behaviors, not characteristics of personalities. The best way to follow this guideline is to consider what you saw with your eyes. Be sure to address only the behaviors of that employee, rather than behaviors of other employees.
4. During the performance discussion, both supervisor and employee review their responses to the assessment questionnaire and discuss how the employee is performing, agree on areas for improvement and any recommendations for further training or professional development.
5. In the meeting, let the employee speak first and give their input. Respond with your own input. Then discuss areas where you disagree. Attempt to avoid defensiveness; admitting how you feel at the present time, helps a great deal. Discuss behaviors, not personalities. Avoid final terms such as "always," "never," etc. Encourage participation and be supportive. Come to terms on actions, where possible. Try to end the meeting on a positive note.
6. Update and finalize the form. Add agreed-to commentary from your discussion to the form. Note that if the employee wants to add or attach written input to the final form, he or she should be able to do so. The supervisor signs the form and asks the employee to sign it. The form and its action plans should be reviewed every few months, usually during one-on-one meetings with the employee.
Nothing should be surprising to the employee during the appraisal meeting. Any performance issues should have been addressed as soon as those issues occurred. So nothing should be a surprise to the employee later on in the actual performance appraisal meeting. Surprises will appear to the employee as if the supervisor has not been doing his/her job and/or that the supervisor is not being fair. It is OK to mention the issues in the meeting, but the employee should have heard about them before.
A few more tips:
Effective feedback is specific, not general. (Say, "The report you turned in yesterday was well-written, understandable, and made your points about the budget very effectively." Don't say, "good report.")
Effective feedback always focuses on a specific behavior, not on a person or their intentions. (When you held competing conversations during the meeting, when Mary had the floor, you distracted the people in attendance.)
Positive feedback involves telling someone about good performance. Make this feedback timely, specific, and frequent.
Constructive feedback alerts an individual to an area in which his performance could improve. Constructive feedback is not criticism; it is descriptive and should always be directed to the action, not the person.
The best feedback is sincerely and honestly provided to help. Trust me, people will know if they are receiving it for any other reason.
Successful feedback describes actions or behavior that the individual can do something about.
Whenever possible, feedback that is requested is more powerful. Ask permission to provide feedback. Say, "I'd like to give you some feedback about the presentation, is that okay with you?"
Effective feedback involves the sharing of information and observations. It does not include advice unless you have permission or advice was requested.
Effective feedback is well timed. Whether the feedback is positive or constructive provide the information as closely tied to the event as possible.
Effective feedback involves what or how something was done, not why. Asking why is asking people about their motivation and that provokes defensiveness.
Check to make sure the other person understood what you communicated by using a feedback loop, such as asking a question or observing changed behavior.
Effective feedback is as consistent as possible. If the actions are great today, they're great tomorrow. If the policy violation merits discipline, it should always merit discipline.