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Prevalence of Teams in U.S. Companies
Much of the work done in American companies today is accomplished through teamwork. The prevalence of teams is another major reason for companies to reassess the way in which they evaluate their employees’ performance. Traditional appraisal systems were developed with only individual performance in mind and are generally not designed to evaluate performance as part of a team. Complicating the evaluation process even more is the existence of so many different types of teams with responsibility for short-term projects to projects conducted over several years. Despite this confusion, appraisal systems can, and must, be made team friendly.
Developing performance goals and objectives for the team and for each individual member of the team is critical to assessing the success of each. Because teams are integral to work today, measuring both team and individual performance is important. Linking the goals of the team and its individual members to the organization’s objectives is also important. Connecting the two makes it possible to accurately
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recognize and reward the team and/or the individuals for their contributions to the company results. Though teams may appear to present another wrinkle in the performance appraisal system, well-defined goals and objectives, clearly communicated and supported by continual feedback and recognition for the team and its members, help ensure the team’s success.
Alternative Work Arrangements
Another sign that the work world is changing is the increasing number of telecommuters, job-sharing, and off-site arrangements. For example, some 40 percent of organizations now allow employees to telecommute in some capacity. These flexible work situations are becoming more commonplace and present another challenge for companies. How do you evaluate performance, provide feedback, and motivate employees with whom you have little face-to-face contact? Because these types of work arrangements are relatively new, there is no well-established performance appraisal process by which these employees are to be evaluated. However, as companies work to develop systems to effectively address these situations, it is important that employees’ need for feedback and recognition is met on a daily basis. This requires an ongoing commitment to communicate and connect with employees perhaps more than ever before.
Impact of Technology
If left unchecked, the increasing use of technology in today’s business can have an alienating effect on employees. But, technology today can also offer employers many options for better communicating and connecting with their people. The key is learning how to use the technology and then taking advantage of all it can offer. Voice mail and e-mail can be effective tools for daily communication with employees—especially
EXECUTION: GETTING THE JOB DONE
THE REAL WORLD
For most people, accountability is a dirty word, suggesting they might not do what they were supposed to unless they were closely watched and perhaps even badgered to comply. The fact of the matter is, however, high performers love to be held accountable because it helps to quantify how much they are able to get done. And for everyone else, they need the feedback to get to become a high performer. The more employees are held accountable, the more they tend to rise to the challenge of performing. So think in terms of positive accountability in a way that highlights the impact of your efforts and increases dialogue and communication for everyone to be better.
for thanks and encouragement. A.G. Edwards, the financial services company, goes further and uses technology to conduct a weekly phone conference of all employees.
One step closer to face-to-face communication is the use of videoconferencing. Home Depot, for example, has a weekly satellite feed to all stores known as “Breakfast with Bernie and Arthur,” its chairman and CEO. Still, when the issue for discussion is emotionally charged, it is best to schedule a face-to-face meeting as soon as possible. If that’s not possible in a reasonable time, it is better to provide feedback using some form of technology than not at all.
WHAT MAKES A GOOD PERFORMANCE SYSTEM?
Performance appraisals—in the traditional sense of the term—are obsolete. To be effective, the performance review process must be updated to take into account the needs of employees and the nature of
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today’s fast-paced business environment. To be successful, a good performance appraisal process must be participative—that is, the employee must have a voice in the process. Involving the employee in establishing goals and objectives for his or her job not only generates a sense of fairness about the process but also is an effective way to improve job performance. In addition to mutually setting employee goals and objectives, the performance process needs to link individual goals to the organization, identify education and development needs, and discuss career advancement opportunities. Done well, this process serves as an excellent foundation for the ongoing communication advocated earlier.