Integrate — Performance Reviews for Success

Performance Review ProcessIntegrate — Performance Reviews for Success

Probably one of the least liked HR processes of all organizations is the dreaded performance review. However, it does not have to be that way. Performance reviews should be beneficial not only to the organization but to the employee.

 

Key components to a successful process include:

  • Built-in commitment to your MVV
  • Shared goals and objectives throughout the organization
  • Employee ownership of career and job performance
  • Simplistic but meaningful processes
  • Solid guidelines and commitment from senior leadership.

Commitment to your MVV

If you want your Team to fulfill your Company’s Mission reach your Vision and operate within your Values, you must build these into the Performance Review process. When you do, it shows the organization that leadership believes in the MVV so much that they have included it in the measurement of employment performance. Ensure your goals and objectives are aligned with your Missionand Vision; if they are not, you must question why they are in place. Most organizations that we support appreciate us walking them through a simple Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) analysis to help develop goals for the organization. In the area of Values, always build your values and other important values into the behavior section of the Performance review form; we will discuss behaviors in more detail later in this chapter.

Shared goals and objectives

In high performing organizations, including those that I have worked for, have all had Performance Review processes that were aligned to shared goals and objectives through the organization. Typically the scenario worked like this: The CEO would develop four to six goals and objectives that would then be approved or renegotiated by the board of directors. Those goals would then cascade through the organization all the way down to, for example, the third-shift sanitation employee at the plant in Arkansas. The employees would then align what they needed to accomplish within their scope of authority against the goals of the person(s) above them.

The review process primarily focuses on annual goals, and very little on the mundane aspects of day to day work that is reflective of what the job description dictates. The daily work should be accomplished, and, if not, the employee should be managed through disciplinary procedures.

Employee ownership 

I have had the experience of employees approaching me earlier in my career at the end of the performance review cycle. Oftentimes, their approach was because they never had met with their managers even one time during the course of the performance cycle.

Make no mistake: they are at fault as much as their inept management. 

Employees must take ownership of their careers, their development and their performance. Those who do not simply will not survive in this economy. Part of ensuring that they take ownership, and helping them to understand it, is ensuring that the process is clearly defined, i.e., that the employee is obliged to prepare performance form materials, and be proactive in scheduling a performance review meeting with their manager if the manager is not. If the manager still fails to meet with them, the employee has an obligation to go to HR or, absent HR, the manager’s superior. Doing nothing should never be an option. 

Simplistic but meaningful processes

Twelve-page forms and manuals that exceed sixty pages will just not work. Ensure your process includes easily understood documentation, and a review form that does not exceed a good resume length, that is, two pages. Keep the form limited to four to six operational goals and three to five behavior-based goals.

Never have a process that is void of behavioral objectives. 

I have had the misfortune to work with several teams that insisted upon only production-related goals. They killed each other in the process to achieve them, and, when challenged,  they would always say that they were not being measured on niceness, but solely on how many widgets they made! Balance your performance scorecard, and you will have better results. 

Solid guidelines and commitment from senior leadership 

When we describe “solid” guidelines, we mean guidelines that are not created in a vacuum, by one person high on a mountaintop. Guidelines should be developed by a cross-functional group of employees from a variety of areas within the company. This brings a rich blend of thoughts and experiences to the table.

Regrettably, most of the HR people that I have worked with during my career are just not capable of coming up with such solid guidelines without assistance.

It is a sad statement to make regarding my profession, but I gave up defending much of the deficiencies I discovered years ago.

Senior Leadership must buy into the process and support it. If they don’t, it is doomed to certain failure.

Years ago, I worked for a company in which, no matter how hard the CEO worked on convincing the president of a particular division to manage the performance review process, this president would balk. The division president’s lack of commitment transcended the organization. The process became a joke, and no one nurtured it. I look back at the company now and wonder if things could have turned out differently. They have closed half of their plants, and shed several thousand employees. It might be a stretch to link this to lack of leadership in embracing a performance review process, but I do believe that, if Innovation was a top goal for the years heading into the downturn, that company could conceivably have created new products to sustain employment for those who were laid off. Sad, but this is often the case. Managers: stay committed!

What has been your experience with performance review systems? Do you like them? Hate them? We would like to know. Please leave us a few comments to broaden our knowledge. Thank you.

2 Comments

Jeff Pelletier

posted on January 11, 2012Reply

Good foundational stuff. In my work I create “outcome based job descriptions” that focus on the job (not the person) responsibility to the Company’s Core Purpose- which is its primary outcome. Each job’s core purpose is subordinate to that company core purpose as are the cascading outcomes. Core Competencies are rooted in the Values. If Values can’t be transmitted into measurable actions we all agree to take or principles we all live by, they are probably plattitudes which are great but not measurable. Core Competencies based on actionable values are key. A percentage of time and importance is assigned to each job outcome, which is then “ratched” based on what actually happened during the review period. Each part, Job Outcomes and Core Competencies, count for half. But you are right on. If the Job Outcomes and the Core Competencies are not based on the Foundations of the Company, fahgetaboutit!

Jeff Pelletier

Mark A. Griffin

posted on January 11, 2012Reply

Thanks Jeff! I appreciate you taking the time to comment. I am sure many others will appreciate your comments and also will learn from your input.

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