As noted above, the first
step of an effective performance appraisal is identifying the goals
of the organization, then determining how employees can be best deployed
to help attain those goals. The link between a job's key responsibilities
and the employee's performance goals should be clear so that employees
understand what is expected from them. In turn, the link between the
employee's performance and the organization's success should
also be clear, as an employee understanding
how he or she fits into the big picture can provide a greater sense
of purpose to the daily tasks being performed on the job. A performance appraisal that focuses solely on an employee’s friendly
demeanor and punctuality is shallow and ineffective for both the employee
and employer if the appraisal can’t tie those traits directly to success
in and for the organization as a whole.
Identify the key behaviors that will add value
to the organization. Start
with the big picture. Does the organization need to grow or does it
need to recharge and regroup after a period of financial hardship
or significant change? Does the organization need to be aggressive
or conservative? Is the organization branching out into new business
territory or building loyalty with an established client base? The
answers to some of these questions may need to come from the executive
team or the company’s mission statement.
how the organization’s needs affect each supervisor’s specific department?
Are creative thinkers willing to take risks and accept challenges
needed? Are reliable workers who thrive on stability and prefer routine
tasks needed? What are the specific traits and the key behaviors that
are required from an ideal employee to help the organization succeed?
these expectations to each employee. Now that the key behaviors have been identified,
the next step is to ensure that employees actually know and understand
what those behaviors and expectations are. One reason
employees fail in their tasks is because the performance model has
not been made clear. What behaviors does the organization want its
employees to focus on and maintain? How is success measured? Does each individual understand which
behaviors are critical to success?
As with the goals of
the company, a general idea of these expectations may come directly
from the organization’s executives or from the company’s mission statement,
with each manager then tailoring the larger goals to the specific
roles within the department.
It is preferable that
the performance evaluation not be the first time that employees learn
of these expectations; however, if the goals and needs of the company
and the department are shifting regularly, the performance evaluation
can certainly provide an opportunity to reevaluate how the employee
can best adapt to any changing needs going forward.
Link any abstract
expectations directly to concrete examples in the job. If key expectations have been identified and communicated on an abstract
level (e.g., “maximize revenue, improve brand loyalty, provide best-in-class
customer service”), it’s important to ensure that there is a clear
and logical link between those expectations and the key tasks and
responsibilities in each employee’s job.
Employers should start by creating a job description that accurately reflects
the job's responsibilities. The critical
job responsibilities, as documented in the job description, should
be linked to the organization’s objectives in a clear and understandable
way. For example, employees who work in a sales context may understand
that increasing revenue means completing more sales, but employees
in an information technology context may be unsure how they can “increase
revenue” until they understand that they can help reach this same
goal by eliminating employee or customer downtime due to network outages.
performance standards and achievable goals. Finally, once
the organization’s larger goals have been identified and linked to
the specific tasks of each employee, it is time to determine the extent
to and means by which each employee should meet these goals in order
to be successful—or exemplary.
For some roles, these
goals may be numbers driven (e.g., meeting a production quota, achieving
a particular customer response time or rating, or not exceeding a
set number of mistakes, incorrect orders, or damaged products). For
other roles, these standards may be task, project, or initiative driven
(e.g., timely completion of research duties, successful management
of a one-time company data migration, or proposal of an initiative
to renegotiate a vendor contract to cut costs).
Note: During the actual performance appraisal, employers should also encourage
employee involvement in tracking success, setting their own goals,
and identifying any steps that they can take (including seeking and
completing additional training) to further improve performance.
apply those standards to each employee. Let’s take a look
at what we’ve done so far. We’ve identified what the company needs
to succeed; we’ve linked those company needs to the specific roles
of each department, job, and employee; and we’ve considered some reasonable
and meaningful standards by which we can measure success. Now we are
ready to apply those standards to existing staff.