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Providing employees with continuous feedback in a timely and nonthreatening manner is at the core of how employers can effectively motivate their employees. Employees today need and want frequent recognition of their job performance and will put forth their best effort for employers who fulfill this need. Companies that continually reward and recognize their employees in an environment of ongoing communication will create a workforce that feels empowered to make a difference.
GETTING TO THE HEART OF ACCOUNTABILITY
Accountability is something that every manager wants and expects from his or her employees but is often elusive to obtain. How are employees held accountable for the jobs they were hired to do, the results they promised to achieve, and the goals they agreed to reach? And how do managers create an environment in which employee accountability is positive, even enjoyable, and certainly valuable? For most organizations, for better or worse, this is accomplished via performance evaluations, that is, timely and accurate evaluations of an employee’s successes and shortcomings.
EXECUTION: GETTING THE JOB DONE
Most managers and supervisors, however, dread doing performance evaluations, and even more employees dread receiving them. According to studies on the topic, an estimated 40 percent of all workers never receive performance evaluations. And for the 60 percent of the workers who do have reviews, most are poorly done. Very few employees receive regular, formal performance evaluations that are thoughtful, complete, and constructive to the employee.
Ask any human resources manager: Are formal performance evaluations really necessary? The answer you get will likely be a resounding “yes!” However, if you look a little below the surface, the reality may echo something quite different. Although most managers consider performance evaluations a necessary tool in developing their employees, reinforcing good performance, and correcting poor performance, these evaluations are often too little, too late. They often miss the mark as tools for developing employees. If performance evaluations are done poorly, managers are better off not doing them at all—especially if by not doing evaluations, the alternative is more frequent coaching and communication.
EVALUATE; DON'T AMBUSH
When an evaluation process is working in an organization, employees aren’t surprised by the results. In such organizations, employees receive regular and ongoing feedback on their progress from their managers. Then, when it comes time to conduct a formal performance evaluation, you can focus on summarizing the things that you’ve previously discussed and on strategies to improve.
But, for the evaluation process to work as well as it can, managers must be fully prepared for employee evaluations. Leaving the preparation for performance evaluation meetings until the last possible minute is a prescription for disaster. The average manager spends about one
The Management Bible
hour preparing for an employee review that required an entire year of performance. This is not nearly enough time to be properly prepared for a performance evaluation meeting.
In summary, when it comes to ongoing accountability about employee performance, keep these points foremost:
• Communication with employees should be frequent so there are no surprises. You should give your employees informal feedback on their performance early and often.
• The primary focus of performance appraisals should be on going forward—setting new goals, improving future performance— rather than on looking back.
• Learning and development should always be included as a part of the performance appraisal process (although sometimes a discussion about pay raises can be separate).
The entire process consists of setting goals with your employees, monitoring their performance, coaching them, supporting them, counseling them, and providing continuous feedback on their performance—both good and bad. If you’ve been doing these things before you sit down for your annual or semiannual performance evaluation session with your employees, you’re going to find reviews a pleasant wrap up and look at the past accomplishments instead of a disappointment for both you and your employees.
Don’t be among the many managers who fail to give their employees ongoing performance feedback and, instead, wait for the scheduled review. Despite your best intentions and the best efforts of your employees, assignments can easily go astray. Schedules can stretch, roadblocks can stop progress, and confusion can wrap its ugly tentacles around a project. However, if you haven’t set up systems to track the progress of your employees, you may not figure out this oversight until too late. You end up mad, and your employees get black eyes because of their mistakes.
EXECUTION: GETTING THE JOB DONE
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