How do I create value in time spent on Employee Performance Reviews?

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I am asked to do employee performance reviews, and I do them and take them seriously. Unfortunately, the other managers and executives at my company just do them to get them done, and as such they serve no purpose. Any ideas for how to discuss with HR in making the review process valuable or is this an area I should not tread?

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Proformative Advisor
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I think its more than a HR problem, it's a managerial (top) issue.

If (right or wrongly) corporate policy is to have performance reviews (PR), and I'll assume their tied to raises and/or promotions, why would Management and HR just "accept" mediocre performance on the part of their mangers.

The question I would raise are:

a) Are PR important to our company
b) Are they really being used for raises/promotions
c) Why are we settling for mediocre performance in the creation of the PR's
d) If they aren't being used, isn't the time we're spending on the PR system a waste of resources?

See where that leads...

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Proformative Advisor
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If most of your managers and executives treat performance reviews as something just to be done, then the process is just a waste of time. And, you may want to evaluate why you do annual reviews. Good managers evaluate staff performance continually and work throughout the year to educate and upgrade employee, or move the low performers out of the company. For managers, it is not an annual process, and shouldn't be.

For many companies the reviews are not much more than support for annual raises. Managers know who their best employees are; who the average ones are; and who the low performers are; and how much they believe each one is worth. And HR has a scale of increases based on where employees rate. So managers know what score they need to hit for each employee and the review process becomes a simple matter of how quickly the manager can hit those numbers to justify the raise to HR. (And as a side note, many companies have found themselves in labor lawsuits when they terminate an employee for performance and it turns out that the employee has years of excellent performance reviews in his file.)

In the end, most employees simply flip to the last page of the review - the part that tells them what their raise will be. Because for them, that is the most important measure of their worth to the company.

One of the best performance/review processes I have worked with had no annual review process. During the year, managers had to write up an evaluation for any employee that they wanted to promote; and notes on exceptional performance or discipline were done as events happened. When it came to annual increases, each department was given a pool, and it was up to the manager to determine how it was distributed. HR reviewed the raises in conjunction with the performance notes in the employee file. If there was a major disconnect, the manager would be asked for more information, but otherwise everything went through as determined by the manager.

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It's an important part of being a manager to cultivate, coach and grow your employees. As such, you owe it to your employees to perform an annual review on them and to be critical on both their strengths/accomplishments as well as their weaknesses/areas for improvement, and then follow through with goals and objectives in the next year to address those areas for professional and personal growth. Regardless of the overall company's process for evaluations, you need to develop your people so you can retain them (people want and need to feel appreciated and wanted) and so you have candidates who can fill opportunities within the organization as they open up.

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First of all I never understood managers who are not able or willing to invest the necessary time to give feedback and appraisals to their employees. After all a managers most important job is to manage and lead the people he/she is in charge of. If they are not up to that task then they shouldnt be managers!

Having said that there is a difference between how to do a performance review if you are a leader of others or a leader of leaders. If you are a leader of others performance reviews form an important part of the way you give feedback to your employees and it should be emphasized to both the employee and the manager that it is an important process. Even if the only formal outcome is salary adjustments the performance review should still be used as an opportunity to guide the employees on how they can improve their skills/performance.

Adding to the complexity if you are working in a large perhaps global organization you would have departments performing the same tasks in multiple locations and you would want to be able to benchmark employees in similar functional departments. So if I have accoutants working in US and UK I would want to be able to benchmark these accountants to understand who would be better suited for more responsibility. As the employee you would then also want your manager to do a high quality evalaution as you know you are being benchmarked not only to the guy sitting next you, but to everyone performing a similar function in the company.

To sum up performance reviews are an important part of developing an organization and discovering potential.

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