performance evalutionIf you are rating employee performance on a five-point scale, it may be time to rethink your process.

The traditional approach to employee performance management, which scores employee performance, is being replaced with an increased focus on coaching and development. According to Bersin and Associate’s High Impact Performance Management Report, seventy percent of organizations say they are already using a coaching and development model, while thirty percent are still using the “document and rate” model.

Here are the common signs that your performance management practices are out of date and a few solutions for shifting your work culture to one that is performance-driven and inspiring.

Employees are surprised

If your employees receive their annual performance evaluation and are surprised by what they learn, it’s usually an indication that you did not give timely feedback throughout the year. Surprised employees quickly become disengaged employees. The Bersin study found that a manager’s ability to coach is the number one performance management challenge.

Everyone gets a satisfactory rating

No organization is perfect and there will always be performance-challenged employees even in the highest performing groups. But, when you complain about an employee’s performance, yet rate them as satisfactory or above, you are not being honest to the employee nor the strong performers. It’s important to accurately assess performance and star performers deserve to be recognized for their service.

Rating factors are meaningless

It’s common to see factors like “dependability” or “interpersonal relations” on evaluation forms. These factors are often poorly defined and don’t reflect what is truly important to your organization. When the performance evaluation focuses attention on random factors that are not aligned with something significant to the organization, they are truly random.

No one can get a ’5.’

Crazy, preconceived ideas develop over time in all organizations. In the long-run, these beliefs begin to work against you. If your performance management system calls for ratings on a five point scale, for example, and managers believe employees have to “walk on water” to earn a five, two outcomes result. First, top performers are frustrated because they are being judged on an unfair standard. Second, the scale is now essentially a four-level scale when the top level is not used.

Everybody is a ’5.’

See “No one can get a ‘5’” above.

You’re too busy to manage performance

When you are so busy that you can’t find time to give employees feedback about their progress, it’s time to reevaluate how you are spending your time. Assess how you are spending your time every day and every week. The best managers spend at least 20% of their time coaching and guiding employees to achieve the big picture goals. Ask yourself, “what meetings, tasks, or projects should I delegate or just stop doing so that I have time to spend supporting my employees?”

You struggle to get evaluations completed on time

Do you feel a mounting stress around evaluation time because it feels like such a burden to get them done? It can be overwhelming to sit down to a blank computer screen and just start typing. The solution is to keep notes on a regular basis about your employee’s performance. One note per week in a log or file is sufficient. Managers who are diligent about their note-taking, report that the performance evaluation is easier to tackle.

Top leaders don’t model the way

When top leaders view themselves as immune from performance evaluation duties, it sends a strong and clear message to the rest of the team that feedback is not important. Everyone is watching….the higher you sit in the organization, the more important it is to model the behaviors you expect of others. Four of the top five most critical performance management challenges, as documented by Bersin and Associates, are related to poor executive engagement. Bersin found that organizations experience improved results when senior leaders held direct reports accountable for coaching their employees.

Leading practice organizations are moving from “rate them” to “coach them.”  Even if your organization hasn’t made the shift, you can use the tools you have to motivate and inspire employees.  It’s not all about the form, the process, or the system.  It’s about how you use them.

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