Performance management should ideally be a process in which the person being appraised, their peers and other colleagues and their direct supervisor, of course, will work together in a partnership to offer regular ongoing feedback (in many ways, at multi levels and in all directions). The aim is not to give explicit instructions or criticism but to empower the individual so that he or she can learn and develop his/her abilities to respond to the changing challenges of their current job and experience growth and development for other jobs in the enterprise that he/she may be able to perform in the future (laterally or higher up in the structure).
The Performance management system should therefore be regarded as the prime vehicle for carrying out the identification and evaluation of what individuals actually do and what they are supposed to do in an organization (and then guiding the development effort that may then be necessary to close any gaps that emerge). This process requires a structured and systematic program with well-defined objectives, guidelines and procedures that are well-known and accepted by its participants at every level. In other words it should be structured so that it is a well-balanced partnership process between the manager and the employee in particular so that both genuinely feel that they can create a “win-win” relationship.
Effective and realistic performance appraisal is vital to employees for morale, their sense of belonging and their commitment to an organization. Material reward, identification of strengths and weaknesses and assessment of career opportunities and direction are also extremely important outcomes of a well-designed appraisal system. An effective performance management system can therefore significantly develop individual capability and motivation and so improve organizational capability, responsiveness to change and bottom line productivity. It also helps people to learn on the job by identifying and working on areas of their development which are holding their performance back or could be developed even further.
Performance management (when considered as an ongoing year-long process of setting goals and objectives and giving on-going coaching and feedback) can also be an important vehicle for the individual manager’s success. The performance appraisal is the annual codification of this ongoing process. It can be the means by which managers hold the reins of their department in their hands, monitor progress so that when something goes wrong you know and can make mid-course changes while they’re relatively easy to make, build and sustain good relationships with employees and encourage team development among individuals. Managers who know how to make the best use out of the performance appraisal system will therefore be the more effective managers.
Effective performance management and appraisal means more than assessing an employee’s performance at regular intervals. It unites a number of related tasks: monitoring, coaching, giving feedback, gathering information and assessing an employee’s work. It accomplishes those tasks in the context of objectives – the immediate objectives of the department and the overall goals of the organization. And it carries them out systematically, throughout the year.
For different organizations the actual means may differ, but regardless of the procedures used to implement it, the basic strategy is the same and the benefits are the same. A well setup “win-win” designed performance management approach makes better use of the appraisal because it uses the information and the manager/employee interaction to support definite goals; it also makes for a fairer and more accurate performance appraisal, because defining the aims of the organization and the department clearly helps form better more job-related and competency-based criteria for the assessment of what should be done differently in the future.
Dr. Jon Warner is a prolific author, management consultant and executive coach with over 25 years experience. He has an MBA and a PhD in Organizational Psychology. Jon is Editor-in-chief of ReadyToManage, Inc. and can be reached at Jon@OD-center.org
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