Overcoming Employee Disconnect
- Friday, June 29th, 2012
- POSTED BY Beth Doladee and Alberto Arroyo
(excerpt from Optimizing Talent through Performance Management white paper)
Taking a historical look at performance appraisals and performance management, the view of the process by employees is that these are largely negative events, giving it an undesirable reputation as a “big brother” initiative. Responsibility for this portrayal rests on all participants—employer and employee—as both contribute to its negative connotation. Therefore, it’s important for companies and employees to approach performance management from a different and fresh perspective. Specifically, it’s about seeing appraisal systems as a vehicle uniquely designed to gain the most from employees through the positive application of strategic methods to provide them with regular feedback, ideas and best practices.
As noted by Work Effects, fear is a large reason behind this performance management disconnect and felt on both sides of the appraisal table. Just as the traits of affection and empathy attract people to one another, fear tends to divide individuals. Given that both parties experience similar thoughts and emotions regarding performance management, it’s beneficial to have open discussions about particular process concerns, thereby alleviating hesitation and creating an environment built on communication and trust.
Meanwhile, this fear can steer leaders into prolonging the review process, leaving the employee wondering whether their performance is good or bad and can only add to unwanted stress and distraction at work. In some cases, managers who delay or avoid providing constructive feedback in performance reviews give employees a false sense of security, which can quickly turn ugly when a project goes poorly or expectations are not met. Tom Coens and Mary Jenkins further highlight this point in their book, Abolishing performance appraisals: Why they backfire and what to do instead, noting that when the time finally arrives to discuss concerns and/or issues that arise, the climate quickly changes from sunny skies to a storm alert. With this in mind, there is little surprise that several national surveys including a survey by Coens & Jenkins found that the vast majority of performance appraisal systems are not successful.
Employees ultimately want to know how reviews will benefit them. One possible solution is to provide employees with a sense of direction on where their career can lead, often referred to as career pathing. Career pathing involves understanding the results, knowledge, skills, personal characteristics, and experiences required for employees to progress their career in an organization. Before carving a realistic path, an employee must take an honest and open look at their career goals and the talents they possess. This makes a formalized performance management system a natural fit and necessity, as it will enable employees to understand where they add value to the organization. Seeing the career opportunities available upon their improvement also serves to alleviate employee nerves. It’s inspiring for them to have a plan and know how their skill set, job role, and set targets can contribute to personal and organizational success.
To continue reading and learn more on overcoming employer disconnect and a modern take on succession planning download the full white paper and the other eight white papers in the Talent Optimization White Paper Series.