People by nature want to know that they are making a difference and will be accountable to the standards they believe in. Before you begin talking about standards you need to know and clearly communicate your organizational values and goals. It all starts there!
I have made this statement many times… only work with people who share your values. Specific values may be called out in performance goals such as a restaurant server acting in a way that creates a great guest experience. Values are especially important and so are behaviors.
Behaviors involve how an employee should act and react and values play a big part in this. Of equal importance are the required deliverables. These are the results. Now how do we communicate this?
Let’s start with clear standards and goals and then do regular measurements. Many managers dread the words “Performance Appraisal.” Unfortunately, that attitude creates failed opportunities. A performance appraisal is a time to have critical conversations with an employee around behaviors and results.
Well administered performance appraisals can create positive results such as:
- Providing constructive feedback that improves productivity
- Identifying training and development needs
- Communicating expectations
- Fostering commitment and common understanding
These positive results will not happen by using standard appraisal forms. I have seen some forms used that have been borrowed from other organizations and they really don’t fit where they are being used. Then, too, how do you ensure that you have everyone evaluated without bias? Afterall, performance appraisals are used for raises and bonuses. How can you account for those who are strict raters vs. those who are lenient raters? Then there are raters who rate one question on an appraisal form and, based on their marks on that question, carry the same appraisal to every other question. We call that the Halo/Horns effect. There are many other examples. We can overcome these problems by using one of two systems that overcomes these difficulties.
Management by Objectives (MBO) - here the employee helps set goals and objectives. This creates a dialog between the employee and the manager. The goals are not imposed but they still reflect the goals of the organization.
Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scale (BARS) – this method is used to overcome problems of rating forms by describing examples of desirable and undesirable behavior. When you clearly indicate behavior associated with each level of performance you help reduce some of the limitations with other appraisal methods. For example, a receptionist might have a BARS like this one:
Outstanding 5 – Positive and cheerful with visitors, completes project work independently.
Satisfactory 3 – greets visitors in pleasant manor, keeps workspace neat, transfers calls correctly.
Unsatisfactory 1 – uncomfortable with phone system features, makes frequent mistakes, cluttered, disorganized desk.
As you can see bars focuses the job behaviors and removed the interpretations bias of other rating forms. In many situations, you can have critical conversations about results when you use the BARS system.
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