Some weeks ago, Dan Rockwell, who I’m following in twitter, published a text in his blog leadershipfreak that put me thinking in my country, Portugal. He wrote: «For a lot of people, performance appraisals are a negative experience, because we are being judged by another (…)» Unfortunately, in Portugal, appraisals are almost ever bad experiences, because it usualy hurts the good performers.
But let read the wise words of Dan about performance and appraisals: «(…) But you could change the whole experience and improve its business value simply by changing the focus. The goal should be to encourage and inspire people to be their best, rather than to critique, rate and rank them. Here are some ways you can do that:
Encourage Self-Awareness - In order to change, we need to know ourselves and our deep motivations. By making performance journaling and self-assessments a part of your performance appraisal process, you encourage employees to deepen their self-knowledge, and support growth and change.
Foster Personal Development - Development plans should focus on enhancing an employee’s experience and expertise – preparing them for career advancement, not just addressing “performance gaps”.
Keep Records of Successes - Invite employees to reflect on why they excelled in a particular area. What were the «conditions» that supported their success? Consciously understanding what we need to be our best helps us to «recreate» those conditions, supporting our success.
Take the Focus Off the Ratings - If we want performance appraisals to be a positive experience, we need to focus on self-awareness and growth, not the ratings. Invite the employee to identify: What successes they had - What contributed to their success - Skills/areas they would like to further develop - Things they need to support their performance and success (…)»
Delicious advices. Here is now a traditional portuguese story: One of these days a service TV technician came to my small company to install the cable. Before start working, we both had a coffee and talked a while. He told me everything about installing a cable TV, and seems the guy liked his work very much. But then he confessed me his sadness about appraisals. He and two more colleagues had several recommendations from happy costumers. But the department decided to move them out for different areas, because the rest of the team, 69 technicians, have never had recommendations from costumers and that situation could create some conflicts.
Amazing, don’t you think? So, instead of pushing the 69 technicians to a next level of excellence, managers preferred to keep the good performers away in three different areas. Instead of showing how to perform better, managers hidden the better work process and taught everybody that low average is more acceptable.
The conclusion: High performance may be disappointing for high performers. Guess what may happen?