Performance Management, Reviews and Appraisals

The calender year 2011 is drawing to a close. Across the world, Performance Management and Reviews are in progress. Here is a close look at different aspects of a performance management cycle.

Let us take a look at it in a structured manner.

The Terminologies
There are a plethora of terms to describe this process. Some call it Performance Reviews, others call it Appraisals. Some keep it simple - calling it Performance Feedback or Task Evaluation and Feedback. 

Whatever maybe the term, the key point to note is that this is the single most important factor in the development of the career of an individual.

Performance Jargon

The Performance Cycle
Different organisations follow different cycles for managing and evaluating performance. Some of them keep the cycle in sync with their financial year. Others structure it in a way such that the cycle completes 3 to 6 months prior to the beginning to a new financial year.

Both have their pros and cons. The former technique allows the performance to be evaluated against goals of the organisations which are set against a particular financial year. This is especially important for senior positions where the evaluations is against financial goals.

Performance Cycle
The later one allows the performance evaluation to be completed well before the year end. This allows the results to be appropriately converted into effective compensation reviews.

Some organisations believe in a single cycle in a year. Others adopt a six month cycle. A six month cycle is most apt, since it gives adequate time for the reportee to assimilate the goals, and execute them, without letting him or her to be a excessively lax.

The Performance Scale
The performance scales are varied at its best. Some organisations adopt a grading system, rating tasks on a level as simple as A, B and C. Others make it a bit broader by adopting a scale of 1-5 for various tasks. 

Few others make it more elaborate by adopting a percentage scale for tasks and activities, with a possibility of the percentage exceeding 100%. Others follow a hybrid method, adopting a mix of percentages, and numeric scales.

To his his own.

Performance Scales
Whatever maybe the method, it should yield a definitive result which is  reflection of the work done by an individual. 

Setting the expectations
This is the first step of a performance management cycle. The idea of this step is to set the expectations to an individual. The aim of this process is to set clear and precise targets. 

This is a difficult task for a manager. The boss has to decide on what is an apt target for the reportees. This should be a reflections of the expectations of their roles. 

It can be a bit stiff to bring out the best in an individual. People thrive on challenges. It should not be too stiff that the individual feels demotivated. A fine balance is required and this is learnt with experience.

Performance Expectations
Most importantly, it should give a fair chance to the individual to exceed those expectations. Everyone loves winning. Everyone loves winning by a huge margin. This fair chance can propel an individual to work hard and smart to meet the expectations in style, and gain the rewards!!

Finally, communicating the expectations is the key. Only when the target is known can the dart have the possibility of hitting the bull's eye. Else, you are just shooting in the dark!!

The Journey
Now that the goals are set, the individual has to embark on the journey to achieve the goals. 

At some times, the path will be rosy. At other times, it be difficult and full of obstacles. If there is one word which will help you navigate in these seas - both rough and calm - it is Perseverance. 

Progressive Performance Feedback
Never let go. The shore may not be far. And a champion sailor will always take his ship home.

The idea should be to stay focused on the target, divide the tasks assigned into small parts which can be assimilated and then paint the bigger picture. 

We can't eat the entire pizza at a time. But we can definitely relish each piece, slowly and steadily. At the end, you would have gobbled up the delicious pizza.

Most importantly, seek feedback and share feedback during the entire cycle. A progressive feedback is a good way to understand if we (the manager and the reportee) are on course. It would also give time to correct the course if we are deviating from the path.

The Performance Review
Once the performance cycle has been completed, it is time to review execution of the past cycle. 

The manager would have to critically evaluate the results against the goals, the exceptional results, and the shortcomings. This should be a very fair process and should be devoid of any bias (be it gender, age or any other attribute).

Performance Review
The manager is expected to analyse the performance and rate it on the assigned scale. Many a times, different aspects of a performance are intangible. It would be important for a manager to understand and appreciate such aspects too while evaluating goals.

This is to be communicated to the reportee at a subsequent stage, giving adequate justifications on various ratings. At this stage, the manager will have to identify the good points which helped an individual do nicely at some task. The manager also would have to identify the shortcomings due to which someone failed to meet a goal.

Performance Review and Empathy
The communication of these strong points and shortcomings is important. This will help an individual to build on the strong points, and improve on the weaknesses. This would help the individual to do better in the next cycle.

The Compensation Review
Finally, the performance of an individual should get translated into an appropriate compensation review. This is usually governed by corporate policies, the market conditions, and a variety of surround factors. However, this is most important to keep the employees motivated. 

The Compensation Review

All in all, performance management and reviews are nothing to be feared about. The aim of such exercises is to help an individual develop into an excellent professional and assist the organisation achieve its goals. And aid both of them reap the benefits. 

Well, whatever I have said can be best summed up in this quote by Ralph Marston - "Don't lower your expectations to meet your performance. Raise your level of performance to meet your expectations. Expect the best of yourself, and then do what is necessary to make it a reality.”

Performance Management, Reviews and Appraisals Performance Management, Reviews and Appraisals Reviewed by Vyankatesh on Sunday, November 27, 2011 Rating: 5

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