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Appraisals for development, not to be taken personally

By anyhelpwouldbegreat ·
Annual appraisals are currently a bit of a joke - the impression I get (being only 6mths into the role).
I have just taken an appraisal for a member of staff, and have put some really positive points and some development areas; one was taken very personally, and was relating to managing users expectations. This was an observation of allowing to be pulled away from priorities by desk hoverers and non-confidence in tackling un-chartered territories.
As no-one has given development areas in the past, and only given good points this didn?t go down well. I was bypassed and was asked for the development area to be deleted. To cut a long story short I had the clearance for it to remain despite additional comments on the appraisal requesting for it not to be included, by the said person.
I'm pretty sure that when I do include feedback on this area (as it will still remain a development area) I will go though the same headache. I always see development contracts/ appraisals as something there to help. If we put down that our people were great at everything and that there wasn?t any room for improvement, the whole thing would remain a joke. Please let me know of any help you may be able to offer me.

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Understandably frustrating

by stress junkie In reply to Appraisals for developmen ...

I can certainly see how this situation would at first be discouraging. From your point of view you had legitimate concerns and you were providing guidance to help this person improve their job performance. When you say you were bypassed I don't know if you mean that the employee added their own comments to your review or if you mean that your manager didn't support you.

I think that you are doing what you don't want your employee to do. You are taking the employee's response personally. You should try to understand that person's point of view. Had you approached this person informally about these issues in advance of the formal performance review. (The question mark on my keyboard is not working today.)

The person who had the review probably sees this as a bad review. This review will become part of their job folder for the remainder of their employment. This person may resent being ambushed with this problem in a formal document before hearing about it from you informally and being given the opportunity to improve before the performance review was created.

You also have to remember that many businesses allow employees to add their own comments to their performance review. Apparently this is the case where you work. You were not "bypassed". The employee was simply exercising their part of the review process to comment on your comments. Corporate procedures permit this and you should not see this as being a personal attack on you.

If you change your management style and keep in touch with employees about their strong qualities and their weak qualities then they will have a good idea of your opinions of their work before they read your official performance reviews. You should talk to employees informally at least once a week.

In theory managers are supposed to provide leadership. That requires interaction with people. If you wait for quarterly reviews to show any interest at all in employees' job performance then you are failing to perform your job. Of course in practice most managers are over paid seat warmers.

So take your own advice and don't take the fact that the employee disagreed with your review as an attack on you. That employee was simply participating in their part of the review process. Next, interact with your employees daily. Do your part and provide leadership to the department.

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A review must contain no surprises

by DC_GUY In reply to Understandably frustratin ...

Think of the review as a reminder for yourself. When you observe something you don't like, the upcoming review (even if it's eleven months away) reminds you that you have to say something about it RIGHT NOW, rather than wait and spring it at review time.

I realize you're talking about something more subtle, perhaps a behavior pattern that took you some time to recognize. But that's no excuse. As soon as you figure it out, you have to discuss it with the employee within a reasonable time. Otherwise they don't know anything is wrong! How can they grow and improve?

Many companies have formal policies that you must have a log showing the date and time that everything negative in a review was already discussed.

I once had a boss who didn't write me a review for three years. "Busy man, we get along, he obviously is satisfied with my work, the HR rule is that I'm rated Competent by default if there's no review," I thought confidently.

Then when he finally wrote one, there was a glaring problem staring at me. I asked him why he didn't bring it up three years ago. He said he didn't have the stomach to criticize people and just kept putting it off.

I told him I was disappointed that he didn't trust me to be an adult and react professionally to a comment on my work. But I was downright ANGRY that he let it go for three years, so I continued to do it wrong when I could have been doing it right all that time.

That got through to him because it had harmed both of us.

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A slippery slope

by amcol In reply to Appraisals for developmen ...

No one likes performance reviews. Managers hate giving them, and employees hate getting them (remember that managers are employees too, so we hate it both ways). Do you do your best work on something you hate? Neither do I.

It's an unfortunate truism that reviews are given principally to satisfy an HR policy requirement that perceives them to be critical to ongoing corporate operations. HR typically spends half their time administering the review process and the other half on hiring and retention. You take away formal reviews and you don't need half your HR staff, and then where would western civilization as we know it be?

As was pointed out in another post there should never be any surprises of any kind in a review. That's because good managers use every opportunity, every single day, to give feedback in one form or another. As in all things the best feedback is balanced...no one's perfect, so if as a manager all you do is praise your people in a quest to be a nice guy and/or their buddy, or if all you do is tear them a new one at the slightest provocation, all you're doing is killing your own credibility (and morale along with it).

No one likes to be judged. Your employee took your judgment personally, which is no surprise. Any number of reasons for this...the employee is pre-disposed to reacting this way, you may have provided unbalanced feedback, or what's most likely (and most often the case) you phrased your feedback in non-business language.

Feedback, whether it's praise or criticism, should never, never, never be personal. You're not reviewing personality, you're reviewing action. You're not a psychologist, you're a manager, and that means however you personally are reacting to the employee (good or bad) you have no right to comment on whatever it is that makes them tick...you're just sitting in judgment of their performance, which means what they did, how they did it, whether it was on time and/or according to spec, etc. Clearly measurable, objective judgments.

If you did all that and your employee still reacted badly, I'd still advise you to look inward. As the manager, you should be smart enough and observant enough to have a pretty good idea how people will take what you dish out. That's part of what they pay you for, so you have to modify your approach accordingly. That's not to say you should sugar coat criticism or omit it altogether, which would be both insulting and an abrogation of your managerial responsibility.

I'm telling you all this from the perspective of having done hundreds of reviews throughout the years on I can't count how many people, having received many reviews myself, and having trained many managers in the fine art of reviewing. I can honestly say that with maybe a half dozen exceptions in all that time, all the reviews that were less than satisfying experiences or that went totally bad were the result of a management failure, not problems of policy or individual employees.

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corporate culture

by BHunsinger In reply to Appraisals for developmen ...

I'm not certain by what you mean about no one giving development areas in the past - Was that to this particular employee or employees in general?
If in general, be aware that you may have inavertenly torpedoed someones career. When I was in the Army they had things called Officer Efficenty Ratings OER's If your first OER was below 199 out of 200 - you were toast. If your second was 200 out of 200 but didnot have enough buzz words, you were toast.
It may not be quite that bad at your new company, and your manager may have added enough to clear it. but check at the water cooler and see if you steped on some toes.
I also strongly agree that hearing about a problem for the first time when you are being formally evaluated for your raise, really smacks of pointy hair boss syndrome. Enough managers have done that to justify low raises that it just feels like a salary ambush, even if it is not.

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I've worked in several places that do this

by Tony Hopkinson In reply to Appraisals for developmen ...

My general impression is that its' a good idea that gets sabotaged by incompetent management.
My first ever review (tied to a bonus) was sabotaged by a directive not to award full marks on the first review so there was room for improvement.
In a year where I'd done over 300 hours worked overtime without one unplanned day off, I couldn't get 5/5 for my bonus. Said everything you needed to know about it.
I refused to be reviewed at one company, because while they pursued the strategy of hassling me for my faults, every training need that had been established in previous reviews was not met(four years !). Interestingly one of them was for time management, which my manager postponed three times because I was too busy.
LOL
In short if you expect an employee to improve as you desire, do not cut him off at the knees, when he attempts to meet your requirements.

And others have said, saving a problem for a review is an utter failure of management. The review should be about discussing effectiveness of the solution to the problem.

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