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Performance appraisal


Report from the TrainingZONE online workshop on the subject of appraisal run on 16 May 2000:-

Stephanie Phillips: Hi Andy - we're just awaiting a few others, then we'll get started - anything in particular you want to cover today?

Stephanie Phillips: Hi Rob, Paul - I have a few topics I thought we could cover today around the area of appraisal - I don't claim to have any definite answers, and would be interested to hear of others experiences.

Andy: Hello Stephanie, this is my first visit to a chat room and first visit to the Trainingzone since registering. I have an interest in performance management and look forward to hearing others views on appraisal, Andy

Rob Hudson: Hi everyone, my interest is related to the fundementals of why formal appraisals are not very successful.

Stephanie Phillips: Hi Angie - I think we can probably get going now. I'd like to address the following with everyone: can we cut down on the paperwork, how do we ensure objectivity, can we adopt a more continuous approach rather than a yearly `spree', and how should we relate performance management and reward. Anyone want to voice an opinion on any of these to start?

sheyman : Hello everyone

Rob Hudson: Maybe would could share the root causes for most systems failing.

Andy: An objective of mine in introducing ta performance management system would be the removal of all paperwork and have managers and appraisees work from a blank sheet of paper. But most mangers and appraisees need the comfort paper offers. Boxes to fill in etc How does the blank shhet approch sound?h

Stephanie Phillips: I think too often there are misconceptions about what appraisal is actually for, both for appraisers and appraisees.

Stephanie Phillips: Andy - maybe it's something that could be moved towards gradually rather than all in one go - I like the idea that blank pieces of paper could be filled out informally throughout the year.

Rob Hudson: To force unskilled managers to manage?

Stephanie Phillips: Rob - yes, I've definitely seen it used as such - but then of course it can turn into a nasty suprise for the appraisee if all the `problem areas' have been stored up rather than dealt with at the time.

sheyman : I believe there are different segments of a performance management system : The actual interview/discussion, the action/development plan and finally the section that links performance to reward/compensation

Paul Hughes: Hi! Of course its an assumption that most systems are failing- but you are porbably right! One of the reasons may be ownership- that this is something that Personnel instigates but which isnt seen as helping the individual manager in his or her role- its incidental, and therefore a time waster. Unitil it is seen as integrated more into the rest of the manager's role, it will stagy marginal. As for blank pieces of paper, well many people value the scaffolding even when they seem to struggle against it!

Stephanie Phillips: Sheyman - the `system' may often consist of one interview, but it may be better to do it in seperate segments, particularly when linking performance and reward.

Rob Hudson: I believe a formal system is akin to scheduling people to be funny, few can do it and most hate it.

Andy: Stephanie, I agree the objective of the whole process must be stated and clearly understod at the outset. There is also a requirement for the organisation to support any system through training and development (not training for trainings sake) This is also of relevance in the performance management of the manager identifying and addressing any shortcomings. Honesty and openess is crucial. Andy

Stephanie Phillips: The formality of the system is definitely a problem, but how can we `ingrain' the appraisal idea into the minds of managers so that it becomes natural to appraise on a regular basis?

Rob Hudson: Paul I agree but who should have the ownership. I believe that the responibilty both for development and performance lies with the individual.

Rob Hudson: Natural selection!

Stephanie Phillips: Rob - yes, but it's sometimes a struggle to get them to realise that if they have always seen training as something that is `imposed' on them.

sheyman : do you believe that actually being very informal doing the process actually hinders or helps the appraisal discussion?

Stephanie Phillips: I was thinking that maybe `new technology' could help with the process - if appraisers and appraisees have access to a system on-line where they can add comments and monitor the achievement of objectives it should give both an equal `buy-in'.

Rob Hudson: I know all you can provide is the water and standback. Those that drink will succeed and the rest comes from momentum. They never said cultural change was easy or fast.

Angie McCormick: Hi everyone. I believe that part of the problem with appraisal is that it is left to the manager. Client and peer appraisal is important as well.

Stephanie Phillips: Angie - yes, thanks for that, the role of the manager is probably over-emphasised and I think others in the work environment should also give their input.

Stephanie Phillips: Sheyman - I think the key to the informality issue is making the process a continual one rather than a once-yearly meeting.

Andy: In my experience gaining the necessary commitment from managers requires them to acknowledge they also have training and development needs in managing their staff. Is 360 degree feedback a solution?

Ken Hare: I think the input of others should be a little private. I have dead-beat co-workers, but don't want to be the one who "rats" on them.

sheyman : Thanks Stephanie - I tend to believe that the discussion should not center around friendliness and informality too much.

Stephanie Phillips: Ken, Andy - I think you have to introduce the idea that people are going to be appraised by their co-workers gradually, maybe by using team-work `sessions' to introduce the idea?

sheyman : Ken- I agree, particularly if you have some co-workers who compete with each other and are waiting for each others downfall

Rob Hudson: Here is the normal dilema. In effective middle management with low poeple skills should they be rehabilitated or shot before too much damage is done.

Angie McCormick: Yes ken I agree. My experience of appraisal in this way was that feedback was gained for peers and clients and feedback to me with out knowledge of who said what. It does promote honesty.

Angie McCormick: Shot definately!!

Ken Hare: If it from a client, it is less detrimental to the organization. If it is from a co-worker management wants to keep, it causes a rift.

Stephanie Phillips: Rob - yes, I agree - I wonder whether some of them get there by default! It certainly isn't down to succession planning!

Stephanie Phillips: But that is probably one of the keys to implementing the process - you have to have a manager with good management skills to start with if they are going to appraise staff.

Angie McCormick: Co-worker appraisal need not cause a rift. Office politics are hell I know, but if the manager who very often is not in direct contact with his staff gets feedback surely the manager can read good appraisal from vindictiveness.

Rob Hudson: In my experience the problem stems from timing. ie being desparate to implement best practice without the foundations in place.

sheyman : Rob- I think thats a good point.

Andy: Angie, I agree with that. But how do we remove the egos some managers have

Stephanie Phillips: Rob - yes, I definitely agree - if you need to develop your managers skills first then it is going to take time.

Rob Hudson: Foundations What does everyone think are the main prerequisits of successful performance appraisal culture?

Stephanie Phillips: Angie - I took part in a 360 degree - type exercise with a manager who got very defensive if anyone questioned here - it was honest feedback (and a few home truths!), but unfortunately she didn't take any action as a result.

sheyman : Do you believe then the managers doing the appraisal should receive training before the company embarks on a new appraisal system?

Robert Benson: Power corrupts, I suppose

Andy: Rob,Openess and honesty - a major cultural change for many organisations

Rob Hudson: Stephanie, success always takes time (nearly always).

Stephanie Phillips: For a successful appraisal culture, you need to start with developing openess - Andy, you took the words out of my mouth!

sheyman : Stephanie- how do you go about developing that openess? Should it be part of the appraisal training?

Rob Hudson: How about starting with the top?

Stephanie Phillips: Sheyman - the million-dollar question I think! As Rob says, you need to work on things like this over time, preferably before putting any sort of appraisal process in place, but maybe it is something that could come out of working towards a more open culture.

Stephanie Phillips: Does anyone have any experience of working through a culture change like this?

sheyman : Yes - I do.We have just undergone a management re-structuring and things are very political at the moment
Rob Hudson: Yes. but we also implemented appraisal too early.

Stephanie Phillips: Sheyman - presumably people feel this has been imposed on them, so it could be a difficult (or opportune?) time to try and support further changes?

Andy: Yes, but we tried to use the performance management as the catalyst for change rather than changing the culture first

sheyman : We still have to establish that relationship of trust because everyone now is very sceptical and unsure

Rob Hudson: By the way over the four years of cultural change nearly 80% of previous supervisors/managers were taken out of the danger zone (managing people)

Stephanie Phillips: Rob - did you start from scratch with the others, or did you have to re-educate people as to how things were going to work in future?

Rob Hudson: The others had the core values and beliefs about people and the leadership skills required.

Andy: Is the answer to promote only those people who can manage people or ensure that it is one of the critical factors in promotionafter all we all say they (people) are our most important resource.

Stephanie Phillips: I'm conscious that we're moving towards discussing change management now - but it seems as though we agree that change is probably needed to improve the whole appraisal process. Does anyone want to discuss relating performance management and reward?

Ken Hare: They are talking about starting that at my work. I am dubious about the results.

sheyman : Yes - I think this is avery important element. Lets face it - all people want to know what they will get after they have worked really hard

Rob Hudson: We had to introduce the concept of two types of managers ones that manage people and others that manage things (processes and technology) promotion being available to both.

Angie McCormick: When performance and reward are not related the appraisal of perfrmance becomes meaningless.

Andy: I think that a danger exists if relating reward to performance management - the openess and honesty element can be undermined.

Stephanie Phillips: Maybe the best thing to do is to relate it directly to the achievement of objectives - it may avoid some of the potential subjectivity involved.

Rob Hudson: To be rewarded or to earn that is the question.

Rob Hudson: You guessed it, I believe in earning.

Stephanie Phillips: We're going to have to wind things up shortly unfortunately - I think we've covered lots of ground here though, maybe a seperate workshop on managing change would be good. Does anyone have any last thoughts?

Andy: Stephanie, with the team being rewarded for achieving team objectives?

Stephanie Phillips: Andy - yes, this will probably work with a common goal in mind, say, for example, in a sales environment or those working together on a project.

Stephanie Phillips: I'll bring things to an end now, thanks to all for your contributions, hope to see you at another workshop soon.

Rob Hudson: Thanks Stephanie et al.

Robert Benson: That was a good workshop Steph, thanks a lot - I'll keep an eye out for you again!

Stephanie Phillips: Bye all - just click on the top right hand corner of the screen to exit the workshop.


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