Coaching versus evaluating: the difference in employee appraisals

by on June 5, 2009 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: HR Info Center

Change your focus in employee appraisals

In process, in content, in roles are some fundamentally different things about coaching than there are from judging and grading and labeling.

First of all the time focus is future not past.
Secondly I would tell you, the average length of the feedback form – I don’t know how many pages you guys are completing out there in your various systems, it ranges anywhere from one to – our record is 33, okay? If you got more than 33 please send me a copy. I would just – I collect instruments of torture. It’s kind of a hobby of mine.

Less is more with employee appraisals.
We’re going to go from x many pages you’re used to, to one side of one piece of paper. That’s all a manager is going to fill out on an employee.

I am not going to tell you the manager is going to spend considerably less time than they spend on a five-paged fill-in-the-blank old employee appraisals doing my essay, okay, because this is more of a portrait you got to paint a little bit harder, but what comes out the other end is qualitatively and fundamentally better I believe than what you get by checking a bunch of boxes off of one side of one piece of paper.

The primary customer needs to shift in employee appraisals
“Why are you doing a performance evaluation?” if the answer is, “We’re doing it for you, the manager and the manager is doing it for HR and the lawyers.” Then its wrong. The question should be: “Are you’re really doing this for the employee” Switch that to, let’s do it for the employee.

In the actual employee appraisals, write their name on it only once. The new content is different. No grades, no label. Please don’t add a label or grade to the bottom of this. So I asked that HR director yesterday that I was talking to. She’s trying to tell me, “This time it’s going to be much better.” I said, “Well, are you still using grades?” She says, “Yeah, but we switched to 11 competencies.”

I said, “Are you grading the competencies?” She says, “Well, we have them grade them and we grade them.” Like this is an improvement. I said – I didn’t say this to her because, you know, I didn’t want her to lose face in front of her boss but let me tell you what it’s like to fill out an evaluation on yourself and then have your boss fill it out on you and then compare notes.

I know there are those of you out there listening that have done this exact ritual. You fill out the employee appraisals on yourself, I’ll fill out the employee appraisals on you, we’ll sit down and compare notes, and we’ll come to some consensus on the topic.. It feels like this. Take this hammer, get yourself in the head then I’ll hit you in the head – we’ll see if it’s about the same. Now some employees find this ritual kind of intimidating.

Does you filling out an evaluation on you and me filling out an evaluation on you, does that change behavior? Does that increase motivation? Does that decrease turnover? How on earth does that do anything of value? Oh, I don’t know. You didn’t like it when I was hitting you in the head so I figured if you hit yourself in the head and I hit you in the head it’d be better.

Actually, you know, not really. Thanks. That’s part of the different, not better thing. They remember two things about the old system-that stupid grade at the end of the process and that little, tiny amount of money.

And here’s exact experience from most people going through that. It feels like this, “Exceeds expectations, 2%”. You can almost hear them go what they’re figuring them out. “Oh boy. Yada, yada,. Meets expectations, 3%.” I mean, come on. They don’t even listen to the rest. They think the whole thing is about the grade which is somehow about the salary treatment.

Edited remarks from the Rapid Learning Institute webinar “No More Performance Reviews! – A Revolutionary Approach to Performance Feedback” by Gary Markle

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