In speaking to many builders and re-modelers weekly, it has been interesting to take note that the classic performance appraisal has fallen by the wayside since the economic downturn. Many tell me that this process became a non- value added activity when all the layoffs began in 2006 and since that time no-one in their organization has really seem to care.
Let me propose a theory on why employees at all levels may not be clamoring to the boss’s doorstep requesting feedback. Employees and managers have seen their teammates; friends and coworkers leave their organization and industry involuntarily over the last 5 years. People who have survived this downturn to date wake up every morning thankful that they have a job, paycheck and a purpose to their professional lives. The thought of having the boss actually give deep thought to their performance, fit, attitude, team play and results could be a very scary proposition even for the high performer. It’s almost like if the employee can remain under the radar long enough they can make it though this long journey of the housing industry recession. This is in most cases not a conscience decision but something that sub consciously plays on the minds of each affected employee.
I have always believed that the performance appraisal if done correctly can re-energize the recipient and have a tremendous impact on productivity. Wouldn’t it make sense today when most of your employees are doing the work of 2 people versus our 2005 state of the union to assure their optimized performance?
Here are the basics for holding an effective performance appraisal;
1. Give your employee ample notice that you are going to hold a performance appraisal.
2. Suggest they give you a one page summary on what they believe they have accomplished, how effective they are working with their team, their fit in the business, any obstacles in their way and what recommendations they have to improve the business. This should be sent to you in writing several days before the actual appraisal.
3. Once you receive their summary, construct a one page document yourself reviewing the employee against the same criteria but making sure you understand the employees filter on these issues as stated in their submission. Your discussion can then center on the delta between each summary.
4. The appraisal event should be in a private area and both parties should agree to shut down, blackberry’s and laptops to give their undivided attention to one another.
5. Start the meeting by stating your objective is to leave this meeting with both parties on the same page on what has happened in the past but more importantly how both of you will work even better in the future.
6. Spend 20% of the time on past performance discussions and 80% on the future. Your job is to take the successes and developmental areas of the employees past and extrapolate them into future with agreements around how to avoid the problems of yesterday while continuing the demonstrated successes of the past. In the future discussion, ask your employee what you can do better as the boss to make the employees experience more effective.
7. End the meeting stressing your support, optimism for the future and a concrete agreement of what will make the future a better one for both parties.
It’s certainly easy to put off such a process in today’s crazy work environment but to do so, creates a less optimized organization.