One of the most common questions I get from clients is whether to conduct performance; if yes, then how? Oh, and do you have a good form? The assumptions behind these important questions are based on an old paradigm which is fundamentally flawed. Performance evaluations do nothing to improve success, but holding conversations on matters which are critical to success can make a huge difference. With that in mind….
Here is my elevator speech on performance evaluation: employees want to talk to talk about their jobs and yes, you owe them that much, even if only once a year. So sit down and have a good long conversation about what is working and not working for you, for them, for the organization. If you have a job description, go over it. Does it address priorities? Does it capture the important competencies required for success on the job? Does the person in the job need additional training, support or resources to perform the job? What are the goals for the coming year, from the perspective of the employee and that of the supervisor? Continue with this conversation until both parties are satisfied, even if it takes more than one meeting. And then, most importantly, follow up on the conversation as often as necessary throughout the year. A record of your conversation would probably make HR happy.
Clients often work from the paradigm that performance systems drive success. Nothing could be further from the truth. Employee engagement is the best predictor of success and performance systems only provide a framework for ongoing conversations about what is working and what is not working. Instead of being the driver of performance, the system should emerge out of other HR processes and culture. It is more like the conversation you hold with a team after the game to prepare them for the next game, not the pre-game bantor that is more for show and posturing.
Here is a slide show that I recently presented to the Society for County Human Resource Professionals. Let me know if you would like the notes that go with it.