The concept of performance evaluation has long been considered to be an important tool for professional development. It can be traced back to 1930s, when Harvard Professor, Elton Mayo researched the behaviour of workers in a factory. It offers an opportunity to contemplate one’s career. As a step in that direction, it gives opportunity to consider one’s strengths and weaknesses. With this background, they are able to think where they will be in five years from now. Once they have decided upon it, they will be able to do research about it, so as to be successful. Next, they will be able to identify gaps and create a career development plan. This process also offers an opportunity to brainstorm about it with the support person. Typically, these employee performance reviews offer avenues for constructive communication between the employees and the managers. However, in spite of all the advantages, the human resource department have been considered to be the most conservative of all.
Performance Evaluation Tool
Our jewelry design business has benefited immensely from growth in recently years. We have been flush with funds till now, and the time is now right to be more efficient. Therefore, the time is right to evaluate the performance of the individual staff members. We believe that there broadly four guiding principles in the development of performance evaluation. There is a need to devise measurable, clear, and agreed-upon objectives. Next, there is a need for through documentation, followed by, formal mid-year evaluation. And, finally, frequent meetings to provide meaningful feedback.
Our performance evaluation tool will include three sections; goals from the last evaluation period; job success factors; and the next steps. Under all these headings and sub-headings, they will be marked in an increasing order from; unsatisfactory, needs improvement, meets expectations, exceeds expectations, and exceptional.
Under the first section, which is ‘Last period’s Goals and Key responsibilities’, we will measure how the concerned staff member performed on those expectations. Each of the goals set in the last evaluation will be displayed priority-wise. Each of the areas of priority will be noted for its measure of success and relevant comments. At the end of this section, the supervisor has to describe how the grading system and operating principles helped him and the staff member achieve the goal.
In the second section, the job success factors are taken into account. Like the previous section, here also the grading of each section is done from unsatisfactory to exceptional. Here the Part A will include key responsibility regards to the job portfolio. This will allow evaluation of people with diverse background. However, the Part B, is general and is subdivided into; inclusiveness, stewardship, decision making, strategic planning and organizing, communication, quality improvement, leadership, professionalism, teamwork, service focus, and unit or department specific competencies. Against each of these success factors, one the supervisor does the grading and notes down the comments. Further, grading from the first and second segment are combined together.
The third section involves setting up of next period’s goals. Here the performance goals for the current performance period are noted to be evaluated at the end of the current cycle. They should align with those of the unit or the department. And they should be entered in order of descending priority. The individual goals will be noted along with the relevant time frame, measures of success, and comments. The evaluation will end with the developmental discussion.
Analysis of the Tool
The most credible part of the tool is the fact that it is broken into three segments. First segment evaluates the last period goals, which is essentially the same as the third segment. The third segment sets goals for the next performance appraisal. Most importantly, the second segment takes care of the concerns at the present point of time. Therefore, this segment has rightly been categorized into various parameters against which performance indicators are measured. Further, each of them has been evaluated on Likert scale; along with it are relevant comments. Also, our plan is strong and has a uniform evaluation cycle. This is exemplified by first and the third section.
However, the tool still needs a lot to be desired. The evaluation cycle is yearly, but there is no mention of regular coaching and feedback. The regular coaching and feedback form a critical link, which connects goal setting at the beginning of the year with performance evaluation towards the year end. This provides the employee the necessary information about their achievements and shortcomings. Further, it is required the one holds formal interim interviews in between the yearly cycle. This, besides the regular feedback, eliminates any surprise in the evaluation. This also helps in documenting achievements towards measuring performance at the end of the cycle.
Further, one needs to make note that the supervisor may not be trained in this aspect of human resources. Therefore, three is urgent need for supervisor training. In addition to performance evaluation, training of supervisor can also help in conflict resolution. Such training will provide supervisors with the skills to recognize causes of workplace conflict, on how to facilitate resolution of conflict and to manage the workplace environment once the conflict has been resolved. Also, it is expected that the supervisors have other responsibilities as well, and therefore, cannot be champion of HR policies. So, it is essential that they get support from the human resource department.
Therefore, if we incorporate those features, it will help develop a culture of feedback and improvement. This entails reinforcing the expectations that the employees deserve to get a feedback. This highlights the primary function of the supervisor, as a leader who helps the employees in being successful. This is because to become an effective and satisfied at workplace, staff members need to develop a keen understanding of their impact on the others. The extent to which this approach is helping them in achieving goals, which is a positive workplace environment.
In either of this situation, previous year’s evaluation shall not apply, and we will be stresses more on the issue of concern.
In her case, in the second section, I will be concerned about her ‘leadership’ qualities as she has been found lacking in her supervisory skills. This is particularly true in the context of her interactions with sales team. This is more so important considering the sales team does not report to her. In this category, I will give her a rating of at the most ‘needs improvement’. More important will be the one-on-one developmental discussion with her about this urgent issue, also to set up relevant target for the remainder of the evaluation cycle. This will allow us to gauge her improvement at the next performance appraisal. The developmental discussion will involving having a frank conversation with her about her interactions with the sales team. Besides conveying our concerns about the matter, the emphasis will be to listen to her part of the story. And if required, the aim would be to provide some leadership training to her. This development opportunity shall also be mentioned in the third section, so that any improvement can be observed and followed up later on.
In his case, in the second section, I will be stressing on the aspect of professionalism. This is particularly true in context of his coming across in the office, his dress senses, and inter-personal relations with the other employees. He needs to realize the impact of his own actions. At the same make a positive note of the fact that his hard work has helped the firm to increase sales above the forecasted goals of previous year. So, under the category of service focus I will grade him as ‘exceeds expectations’. At the same time, I will mention the achievement under the comment section. However, the main emphasis of the appraisal will be the complaint about his professional behaviour at workplace. Therefore, under the development opportunity, I will have a conversation with him and make notes about how he intends to work, so as to improve on that aspect. This will also go towards his next year’s evaluation.
Just as with Mark, in the second section, I will be stressing on the aspect of professionalism. In his case, this will be particularly true in context of his wasting working hours to send text messaging and taking a day off without informing or applying for leave. But, before that, I will like to acknowledge this consistently high score in terms of sales. This is something he is also very proud of. Coming back to his unprofessional behaviour, I would like to grade him “needs improvement” with regards to his behaviour with clients and other staff member. Also, noteworthy was his use of text messaging and not responding properly to Mark, when he pointed out this problem to him. Therefore, this will be mentioned against the developmental opportunity, and I will have to have a confidential discussion with him as well.
Evaluation of Process
Talking about the evaluation of the process I undertook for the three employees, I would like to first refer to the positives, and then the negatives. Referring to the positive of my approach, I stressed more on the immediate problems facing the staff members, as I felt that once they are addressed, everything will be balanced and near perfect. I formed them as a part of the developmental discussion. That entailed detailed one-on-one discussion about it with them. Also, I gave it a high priority on the third section, which is about performance targets to be evaluated in the next performance appraisal.
Finally, coming to the negatives, I should have stressed more on the positive contribution of the staff members. Particularly, in the areas where they are doing above the expectations. Not doing that will discourage the staff members as they will feel they are not getting due recognition for their efforts.
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