Evaluation – The Third And Most Misused Spoke In The “Wheel Of Management”
This is the third article in the series entitled “The Wheel of Management.” In the series I have talked about the spectrum of management tasks and shown how they interrelate.
In this article I intend to deal with evaluation because it is so often absent from small company processes, and when it is not absent it is most often misused. This article discusses formal “performance evaluation”
Let me give an example of what I mean by “misused”. I had a conversation the other day with a fairly senior departmental manager in a medium sized corporation. In the conversation this manager said, “I can’t understand why I only got a 3% increase, after all I got a 95% evaluation.” In this comment is evidence of the two biggest mistakes organizations make in evaluation methodology, firstly no one is that good, and the evaluation process is tied to pay increases.
To better understand why I say these are the two biggest mistakes, let us examine the structure of a great evaluation program, and establish what the program is trying to achieve. First and foremost the evaluation must be measured against the performance parameters defined in the job description so the parameters vary by job. Secondly the objective is to define a program for improvement, and let us face it even superman has some room for that. Taking these points into account you can see that telling an employee that they are a 95%-er leaves very little room for the evaluator to say, ‘This is what I want to see you do better at!”
When I set up an evaluation program for a client we try to create evaluation parameters that will result in evaluation scores averaging 65%. (I usually remark that the average should be somewhat lower but the psychology of the supervisors performing the evaluation is such that they always tend to err on the high side.) When you are working from this base it is easy to get the conversation around to areas of performance that need work. I also ensure that the timing of the program is such that it is clearly not confused with pay increases.
Now here is the kicker. It is no good to just say, “These areas need work” without also saying, “And this is what we are going to do together to achieve that improvement.” When the employees realize that the process is genuinely there to help them be better performers for their own benefit as well as the company, that is when your evaluation program starts to be a real incentive.
In closing, be aware that there will be employees that will have some difficulty with evaluations, particularly the first time round, and all supervisors need to be counseled to not be confrontational. Any employee that does not eventually realize that a process that is designed to make them better employees is in their benefit, perhaps are not the kind of employees you need. And a final note, formal evaluation processes should not replace ongoing coaching and encouragement. A helpful comment which is made without rancor or humiliation is still the most effective tool for improving performance and morale.Tags: Employee Evaluation, Management, Management Accountability, Management Effectiveness, Management Evaluation