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Upside Down, Right Side Up

Optimize Blog - September 12, 2016 - 0 comments

As we charge toward the final quarter of the year thoughts will soon inevitably turn toward the dreaded annual appraisals – the performance review. We don’t meet too many people that actually enjoy these opportunities to provide feedback on how our teams and individuals have performed during the year, so what seems to be the problem?
Most performance review frameworks that we come across have all the right elements included and yet they are rarely perceived as fair. This is probably because they are often evaluations that measure how “comfortable” a boss is with an employee, not how much an employee contributes to overall results.
They can also be an intimidating tool that makes employees too scared to speak their minds, lest their criticism come back to haunt them as a career limiting move.
Performance reviews don’t work if the focus is on pleasing the boss, rather than on achieving desired results. There is little convincing evidence that performance reviews are fair, accurate or consistent across managers, or that they improve organizational effectiveness – not least because of the assumption that the boss has all the answers.
But is there a better way? We believe that there is, and it requires replacing traditional performance evaluations with a system that emphasizes negotiated goal-setting and continuous improvement.
Employees are almost always better at coming up with metrics that lead to system-wide gains than bosses alone are. The key to system-wide success (as opposed to individual success) is still employees working together under the mentorship and guidance of good leaders.
Of course, not every employee will seize the opportunity to collaborate with leaders and figure out ways to improve overall results. If they don’t then they are not a good fit for the organization.
Setting the overall direction and a few key performance objectives for the organization is the place to start and then through discovery allow your teams and individuals to consider how best they can actually impact those goals. Allow them to negotiate the goals. You may however need to persuade them to stretch what they might believe is possible but through negotiation you drive ownership – they see them as their goals as well as yours and the organizations goals.
The days of top down goal setting should be behind us. A top down – bottom up approach is the way to ensure that the required results for the organization are achieved. Ownership of goals leads to commitment, commitment leads to accountability and accountability leads to execution.
In business execution is all that really matters……

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