1 I THE ROLE OF PERFORMANCE APPRAISAL IN PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT A WORKSHOP FOR WESTERN KENTUCKY UNIVERSITY SUPERVISORS Presented by Dr. Betsy Shoenfelt Department of Psychology Western Kentucky University Bowling Green, KY November 2008
2 F Z OBJECTIVES 1. To provide an overview of effective performance management systems, that is, the process involved and the essential components of systems that will help ensure the accuracy, fairness, and acceptance of performance evaluations and performance management. 2. To identify the essential components of an evaluation system from a legal perspective and a practical perspective. 3. To identify and increase understanding of two methods for overcoming error and bias in the appraisal process: formats and rater training. To gain some experience (in an abbreviated form) with these methods. 4. To identify the characteristics of effective performance objectives. 5. To identify supervisory activities before, during, and after the appraisal that will increase the accuracy, fairness, and acceptance of the evaluation. 6. To provide guidelines for giving feedback that will increase the employee's receptivity, understanding, and acceptance of that feedback. To gain experience providing such feedback in the context of the appraisal discussion. 7. To provide guidelines for documentation of performance within the appraisal system.
3 THE ROLE OF PERFORMANCE EVALUATION IN PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT 3 - CONTENTS - TOPIC PAGE THE PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM... 4 PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT... 5 APPROACHES AND OBJECTIVES OF APPRAISAL... 6 SETTING PERFORMANCE STANDARDS... 8 SUPERVISORY ACTIVITIES BEFORE, DURING, & AFTER APPRAISAL ERROR AND BIAS IN APPRAISAL: HOW TO PREVENT IT COMMON RATING ERRORS OVERCOMING RATING ERRORS: FORMATS AND TRAINING RATING FORMATS RATER TRAINING DOCUMENTATION GUIDELINES IN PREPARING DOCUMENTATION SUGGESTIONS FOR WRITING DESCRIPTIONS OF BEHAVIOR FEEDBACK CHARACTERISTICS OF EFFECTIVE GOAL STATEMENTS SELECTION OF MEASURES OF GOAL ATTAINMENT FACTORS AFFECTING PERCEPTIONS OF FAIRNESS DISCUSSION GUIDE FOR ADDRESSING PERFORMANCE PROBLEMS LEGAL IMPLICATIONS FOR PERFORMANCE APPRAISAL CASE LAW PRESCRIPTIONS FOR APPRAISAL SYSTEMS PERSONNEL PRACTICE RECOMMENDATIONS FOR APPRAISAL REFERENCES PERFORMANCE APPRAISAL PRACTICE EXERCISE... 33
4 THE PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM 4 The Evaluation Process Eva O Pettomiarnce Meant IRAte gentry Specific Per4onTe^,e Gcals Eeta6ish,bb Expeuetions GGser:a Mork Per`ormance CT_eing Feed air JOB ANALYSIS The system should be based on some type of job analysis. That is, analyzing the job to identify the relevant dimensions of performance and the requirements for effective performance in each job dimension. SETTING PERFORMANCE STANDARDS The job requirements must be translated into levels of acceptable and unacceptable performance. The standards should be clearly identified in behavioral terms. PERFORMANCE APPRAISAL Performance Objectives. The job standards should be applied to each individual to identify specific performance goals/objectives. Job Expectations. It should be determined how the individual will meet these objectives in concrete, behavioral terms. This provides very clear job expectations for the individual employee. Observation and Feedback. Observation and feedback should be on-going throughout the appraisal period. The supervisor should let the employee know what s/he is doing right and where s/he is falling short in meeting the objectives. This allows the employee the opportunity to correct his/her actions and get back on track to meet the performance goals. Evaluation. At the end of the appraisal period, the supervisor must compare the performance of the employee to the standard and determine where the employee falls. Appraisal Discussion. The supervisor should meet with the employee and discuss each dimension of performance in terms of whether or not the employee met the performance goals. New objectives and behavioral expectations should be set in consideration of attainments and deficiencies. The process of performance appraisal, not the mechanics, determine the overall effectiveness of this essential organizational activity.
5 5 PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT A primary responsibility of a supervisor is to manage the performance of his/her subordinates. Performance management is an ongoing, year-round activity and involves much more than the annual performance review conference. Performance management has three distinct components: 1. Defining performance, including organizational objectives and strategies. 2. Measurement of performance. 3. Communication between the supervisor and subordinate about the extent to which the employee's performance fits with organizational expectations. Performance appraisal is one component of performance management. Ongoing communication between the supervisor and subordinate is an integral part of performance management. The supervisor's role is to understand performance standards and expectations and to help the employee understand his/her responsibilities and how to meet them. The employee's role is to understand the performance standards and expectations and how his/her behavior fits with those criteria. Performance management is crucial to organizational effectiveness. Yet, many supervisors are reluctant to conduct appraisals and provide feedback. There are several reasons why this is so. The most obvious is that it takes time. Many managers feel feedback and communication take time away from other work. However, a supervisor who complains that it takes too much time to provide performance goals and feedback to subordinates may be misconstruing his/her job. Defining and communicating about performance with the subordinate is one of the major duties of a supervisor. Performance management should not be viewed as distractions from more important tasks. Other reasons supervisors avoid the evaluation process include the desire to avoid giving negative feedback, fear of experiencing the dissatisfaction of some incumbents with the outcome of the evaluation, fear they may be challenged on their evaluations, and even the fear that they may be named as a party to a lawsuit brought by an incumbent charging unfairness. However, there are guidelines for performance management that, if followed, ensure the accuracy of evaluations, the perceived fairness of the evaluations by workers, meeting legal standards for evaluations, and the effectiveness of performance management for achieving organizational objectives.
6 6 APPROACHES AND OBJECTIVES OF APPRAISAL The primary purpose of performance appraisal is to improve employee performance levels. This typically takes two distinct approaches: 1. ADMINISTRATIVE APPROACH The first and traditional approach has been the use of evaluations to make administrative decisions about employees. Some of the decisions involve rewards, such as who will be promoted or who will receive salary increases. Others are more neutral such as who would benefit from training, while others are punitive such as who should be warned, disciplined, or terminated. These decisions are often based on how effectively employees perform their job. Effective reward allocation requires valid performance evaluation which differentiates employees according to a quantifiable scoring system. The evaluation instrument must be sensitive to differences in performance in order to distinguish across performers. The documentation required for such decisions must be facilitated by the performance appraisal format. COMMUNICATION. Performance management systems should let subordinates know where they stand, how well they are doing, and what changes in their behavior are required for effective performance. Performance appraisal should provided a context to communicate: o Work to be accomplished o Performance expectations (goals: what, how, when) o Feedback concerning current performance To provide feedback and improve performance, the evaluation should be: o unambiguous and clearly specify the job-related performance expected o use behavioral terminology o set behavioral target goals for ratees to work toward o use a problem-solving focus that culminates in a specific plan for performance improvement, if needed. 2. DEVELOPMENTAL APPROACH The second approach to performance management focuses on the development of employees so they may perform their tasks more effectively. That is, to identify strengths on which to capitalize and weaknesses as areas of improvement. Performance management systems should provide a means for coaching and counseling subordinates to train and develop them to their full potential. The focus to develop employees so they can perform their tasks more effectively: o What the employee can do: training, more effort, different tools or methods, etc. o What the organization can do: provide training, equipment, tools, time, etc.
7 7 The identification of promotional potential requires that job-related PAs have several dimensions in the incumbents job the same or similar to the job to which the incumbent may be promoted. The PA should also permit comparative ranking of the ratees, measure the contribution to departmental objectives, and perhaps capture the ratee' s career aspirations and long-term goals. While the objectives of the administrative and developmental approaches are similar (i.e., employee improvement), the processes through which the objective are accomplished are quite dissimilar. The administrative uses of appraisal necessarily emphasize the authority of the superior over the subordinate and tend to be oriented toward the measurement of past performance. The developmental approach, on the other hand, tends to emphasize subordinate contributions to both work and planning (goal setting) and evaluation of completed work and focuses on how performance levels can be improved in the future. Objectives for the Two Approaches to Performance Appraisal Administrative Objectives - To provide feedback so the employee knows where s/he stands - To develop data for administrative purposes (e.g., salary, promotion, etc.) - To provide a means for communicating those decisions - To deal with unsatisfactory performance (warning mechanism, objective basis for decisions - e.g., discipline or discharge) Developmental Objectives - To coach, council, develop potential - To motivate through recognition and support - To diagnose problems and develop plans to correct them - To develop commitment to the organization through career planning - To strengthen relationship - supportive, communicative, helpful These two approaches to appraisal necessarily conflict to some extent. For example, the use of appraisals by superiors for administrative decisions may inhibit the subordinate's openness with and trust in the manager which is necessary in using appraisals to aid development. Supervisors may find it necessary to separate the two approaches and hold separate conferences: one for administrative purposes and one for developmental purposes. In this regard, appraisals are viewed primarily as mechanisms for increasing employee commitment or motivation for task accomplishment. The feedback the employee receives through the appraisal process can be helpful in more effectively directing work energies toward the goals of the organization.
8 8 SETTING PERFORMANCE STANDARDS The job requirements must be translated into levels of acceptable and unacceptable performance, which define the standards for the job. The standards should be clearly identified in behavioral terms. PERFORMANCE APPRAISAL Performance appraisal, that is, the actual evaluation of job behavior is the last step in the performance management sequence. Performance appraisal represents the process of gathering information about individuals based on critical job requirements. Gathering job performance information is accomplished by observation of performance or the outcomes of that performance. Evaluating the adequacy of individual performance is judgment of how the actual behavior compares to the established standards for the job. Characteristics of Performance Standards 1. Standards for evaluation should be based on an analysis of job requirements. A thorough analysis of the job should be performed to determine tasks and responsibilities necessary for successful job performance. 2. Performance standards should provide a clear indication of the level of performance expected for each job responsibility. 3. Performance standards should be clearly communicated to the employee prior to the beginning of the appraisal period. Written, definitive standards should be provided to all raters and ratees. Likewise, the consequences of failing to meet the performance standards should be clearly communicated to the employee. From : Performance Appraisal Handbook: A Supervisor's Guide to the Performance Appraisal System for StaffEmployees, Western Kentucky University Each performance factor is to be rated on a scale which ranges from "unacceptable" to "exceptional." Ratings from each performance category provide an aggregate overall rating. Rating definitions are described below: Exceptional (7, 8, 9) - indicates outstanding contributions on a continuous basis during the appraisal period; work is consistently at the highest levels and exceeds expectations. Satisfactory (4, 5, 6) - indicates fully acceptable performance; general expectations are being met. Unacceptable (1, 2, 3) - indicates that some or all general expectations are not being met; considerable corrective action is required; on-going overall performance at this level typically results in disciplinary action. An overall final rating of "unacceptable" requires the development of a written performance improvement plan which outlines specific work objectives and behaviors that are to be accomplished by a pre-determined date. The performance improvement plan is not a replacement for the disciplinary process, but rather works in conjunction with that process.
9 9 WHY SET PERFORMANCE STANDARDS? Our goal in performance evaluation is to make distinctions among people, especially among people in the same job. Performance standards are the critical link between the job demands and the performance of the individual in that job. Standards identify the levels of performance deemed acceptable and unacceptable for each of the job -relevant, critical dimensions (i.e., responsibilities) of performance identified by the job analysis. Ultimately, it is management's responsibility to establish performance standards. For some jobs (e.g., production or maintenance) standards can be set on the basis of objective data collected in engineering studies. However, for other jobs (e.g., administration, supervision) indirect methods of scaling must be used. Management must also determine if other indices representing organizational objectives (e.g., accidents, absenteeism, communication skills) are important concerns that should be reflected in the evaluation of individual performance. If so, such measures should be integrated into the performance appraisal system. Performance standards are essential. They help ensure consistency in judgments across individuals in the same job. Charges of unequal treatment and unfair discrimination are much more likely in jobs where no clear performance standards exist. Performance standards should provide a clear indication of the level of performance expected for each job responsibility. However, the standards are not necessarily an exhaustive list of indicators for each task assumed under a given responsibility. Some professional judgment by the supervisor is necessary to determine where a given level of work behavior falls in relation to the standard based on the expected behavior illustrated by the stated standard. Thus, the standards should give a clear indication of the level of performance expected to be considered good, very good, outstanding, needs improvement, or unsatisfactory. The standards do not necessarily list every indicator for every task that might be required for a given job responsibility. If an employee has a question about the level of performance required to meet the standard, he/she should discuss this with his/her supervisor to ensure they both have the same understanding of the behavior required on the job. Preferably, this discussion should take place at the beginning of the appraisal period.
10 10 SUPERVISORY ACTIVITIES BEFORE, DURING, AND AFTER APPRAISAL BEFORE THE APPRAISAL DISCUSSION Frequent communication. Once a year appraisal and feedback is not sufficient. Coaching and feedback should be on-going throughout the appraisal period. Coaching should occur more frequently with new employees and poor performers. Feedback has maximum impact when it is given as close as possible to the action. If the employee performs effectively, tell him/her immediately. If the employee performs ineffectively, tell him/her immediately. Do not just file these incidents away for discussion nine months later. Appraisal training. Managers should receive training on how to observe behavior more accurately and fairly. Training should focus on dimensions and behaviors that are difficult to rate and/or those that result in disagreement among raters. Prepare for the interview - Review the ratings you assigned and the rational for the ratings (based on your documentation). - The defined standards should be the basis for comparison; not ourselves or own idiosyncratic preferences. Encourage subordinate preparation. Research indicates that the more time subordinates spend prior to that appraisal interview analyzing their job duties, problems on the job, and the quality of their performance, the more likely they were to be satisfied with the appraisal process, motivated to improve their own performance, and to actually improve their performance. Employees should be encouraged or required to evaluate their own performance against the same standards used by the supervisor. DURING THE APPRAISAL DISCUSSION Warm up and encourage participation. Research indicates that the more the employee feels s/he participated by presenting his/her own ideas and feelings, the more the employee is likely to feel the supervisor was helpful and constructive, problems were addressed, and future goals were set. However, the employee must trust the supervisor, be comfortable participating, and be knowledgeable about the job for the participation to be effective. Judge performance, not personality. The more supervisors focus on personality and mannerisms rather than on job-related behavior, the lower the satisfaction of the subordinate and the lower the likelihood the subordinate will be motivated to change. Be specific. By being candid and specific, the supervisor offers very clear feedback to the subordinate concerning past behavior. It also demonstrates knowledge about the employee's level of job performance and job duties. The supervisor should be specific about positive as well as negative behaviors on the job.
11 11 Be an active listener. The objective of active listening is to ensure understanding of the speaker's point of view; to try to see things from his/her point of view. It is not to form a rebuttal or to make your own point. Reflecting or paraphrasing what the speaker has said indicates active listening. Active listeners are attentive to verbal and nonverbal cues. They accept what the other is saying without argument or criticism. Avoid destructive criticism. Destructive criticism is general in nature, frequently delivered with a biting tone, and often attributes poor performance to internal causes. Destructive criticism produces negative feelings, can initiate or intensify conflict, and has negative effects on goals and feelings of self-efficacy. Set mutually agreeable goals. Goal setting directs effort and increases persistence toward completing a task. Participation in goal setting frequently increase the acceptance of goals and thereby increases their effectiveness. AFTER THE APPRAISAL INTERVIEW Continue to communicate and assess progress towards goals regularly. Coaching should be a day-to-day activity. The appraisal interview should be merely a formalized summary of an on-going process. Periodic feedback in relation to objectives helps keep the behavior on track, provides a better understanding of the reasons behind a given level of performance, and ensures the employee knows how well/poorly s/he is performing. Make organizational rewards contingent on performance. Research indicates that subordinates that see a link between appraisal results and personnel decisions are more likely to prepare for the appraisal interview, to actively take part in it, and to be satisfied with the appraisal system. SUMMARY OF SUPERVISORY ACTIVITIES BEFORE, DURING, AND AFTER APPRAISAL BEFORE Communicate frequently with subordinates about their performance. Get training in performance appraisal. Prepare for the meeting - review ratings. Encourage subordinates to prepare for the interview. DURING Warm up and encourage subordinate participation. Judge performance, not personality or mannerisms. Be specific. Be an active listener. Avoid destructive criticism. Set mutually agreeable goals for future improvement. AFTER Communicate frequently with subordinates about their performance. Periodically assess progress toward goals. Make organizational rewards contingent on performance.
12 12 ERROR AND BIAS IN PERFORMANCE APPRAISAL: HOW TO PREVENT IT Supervisory ratings are the most frequently used method of performance evaluation. However, since ratings depend on human judgment, they are subject to error and biases. There are a number of different methods for rating job performance; each attempts to reduce error in some way. No method of performance evaluation is completely error-free. Error and bias may be associated with raters (e.g., lack of first-hand knowledge of employee performance, personal values), ratees (e.g., job tenure, race), various situational and organizational characteristics, or some interaction of these. Error and bias can be reduced sharply, however, through the development and use of sound rating formats and through training in the technical and human aspects of the rating process. Raters can be trained to increase the accuracy of their ratings and to eliminate or avoid some of the most common types of errors. Practice in objectively observing and recording behavior will improve the accuracy of performance evaluations. COMMON RATING ERRORS Performance ratings should reflect actual performance, not irrelevant or incorrect information. The following are brief descriptions of some of the more common rating errors. Leniency and Severity - Committed by the rater who is either too easy or overly harsh in rating employees. May be caused by inaccurate frames of reference or standards. Central Tendency - Rater consistently rates employees close to the midpoint of the scale when the employee's performance warrants a substantially higher or lower rating. This error may occur when the rater has insufficient information to accurately rate the individual, so the supervisor gives an average or "middle of the road" rating. Halo - Rater inappropriately generalizes from one aspects of an individual's performance on the job to other dimensions of performance. This error occurs because the rater fails to discriminate different levels of performance on various dimensions of performance. Most workers are better at some tasks and perform less well on other tasks. Contrast Effect - Tendency for a rater to evaluate a worker relative to other individuals rather than in comparison to the performance standards. First Impression Error - Tendency for the rater to make an initial favorable or unfavorable judgment about a worker then to ignore (or perceptually distort) subsequent information, thereby supporting the initial impression (self-fulfilling prophecy). Similar-to-Me Error/Friendship Bias - Tendency on part of rater to judge persons they perceive as similar to themselves more favorably.
13 Leniency 13 The most common rating error is "Leniency," where the rater gives ratings higher than the ratee deserves. That is, the rater gives ratings at the high end of the scale even though the employee's actual performance does not merit the high ratings. The rater could be described as being "too easy." There are several reasons why leniency occurs. Reason 1: the supervisor is uncomfortable giving negative feedback or average feedback. * Remember that accurate feedback is necessary for any improvement to occur. Reason 2: the supervisor has unusually low performance standards. * Recognize the need to use the rating guidelines, not personal standards. Reason 3: the supervisor assumes other supervisors will be lenient and does not want his/her workers to suffer by comparison. * This "second-guessing" defeats the whole evaluation process. Reason 4: the supervisor fears retaliation from subordinates for giving negative feedback. * When appraisals are done appropriately, following the guidelines, they will be perceived as fair. Despite any of these stated reasons, giving lenient ratings is an error and causes bias because the artificially high ratings do not accurately reflect the employee's performance level. In fact, a lenient rater tends to over-reward poor performers and frustrate good performers who feel their good performance is not being differentiated from the poor performers. OVERCOMING RATING ERRORS : FORMATS AND TRAINING There are two general approaches to overcoming rating errors. The first approach involves the development and use of rating formats to help prevent errors. The second approach involves training raters to be accurate in making ratings and to avoid making errors. These two approaches should be used in conjunction for the best results. RATING FORMATS There are a number of formats that can be used for making performance appraisal ratings. The specific format that is best for a given organization depends upon the objectives the organization is hoping to achieve through performance appraisal as well as the particular types of errors that are likely to occur in the specific situation. There are three general suggestions in selecting an appraisal format: 1. Build as much structure as possible. Use a job analysis to specify what is really relevant to effective job performance, that is, to identify relevant dimensions of performance. Set standards of performance and provide examples of actual job behavior that illustrate different levels of performance on all performance dimensions. Provide instruction on how to properly use the format.
14 14 2. As much as possible, the evaluation of the behavior should be removed from the observation of behavior. Standards should be set and behavioral examples of different levels of performance should be identified prior to implementing the format. The rater should know standards prior to observing performance. The behavior should be observed then compared to the standards. The rater can focus on observing and recording the behavior of the worker. The "evaluative" part of the process will have been determined beforehand when the standards were defined. 3. Do not require raters to make judgments they are not competent to make. Do not ask them to make judgements beyond those they can make accurately. Raters must know the job, the standards of performance, and have sufficient familiarity with the worker to make the rating. For example, if the format requires a judgment of frequency, ensure the raters have had sufficient opportunity to observe the ratees so their ratings are accurate. RATER TRAINING Formats alone cannot produce valid appraisals. They cannot specify everything a rater needs to know or consider in order to rate accurately. The rater must make inferences about performance. Despite the desire to limit the role of the rater to that of simply an observer, the fact is that the rater really is an evaluator judge. It is important that individuals who provide performance ratings have been trained. There are three broad objectives in rater training: 1. reduce or eliminate judgmental biases 2. improve observation skills by teaching raters what to attend to 3. improve the ability of raters to communicate appraisal information in an objective, constructive manner with ratees. Training Content The content of the training falls into four categories: Rater Error Training attempts to directly reduce rating errors, typically by presenting raters with examples of common rating errors such as leniency, halo, central tendency, and contrast errors. After raters are familiar with these errors, they are encouraged to avoid them. Performance Dimension Training attempts to improve the effectiveness of ratings by familiarizing raters with the dimensions by which the performance is rated. This is done by providing descriptions of job qualifications and requirements, reviewing the rating scale used in the evaluations, and/or having raters participate in the actual development of the rating scale. Most definitions of jobs assume the tasks performed are similar in some respect. However, it is important to recognize that there are different dimensions to job performance that should be reflected in the rating format. It is equally important to recognize that employees have strengths and weaknesses. A given employee will be better on some dimensions and not as well on other dimensions. Even the star employee doesn't do everything equally well. Even a poor employee is worse on some dimensions than on others.
15 15 Frame of Reference/Standards Training attempts to provide raters with a frame of reference for making evaluations of the ratee's performance. The goal is to get raters to share a common perception of performance standards. A frame of reference is achieved by presenting examples of job performance to trainees along with the appropriate or "true" ratings assigned to the performance by "experts". The rater should know the job. S/he should be able to define each dimension of performance on the rating format. S/he should know the behaviors needed to perform each dimension of performance. S/he should know the standards of performance for each dimension. Raters should have a common understanding of the standards. They should then make evaluations based on behaviors, not on global impressions. Behavior Observation Training emphasizes the importance of observing performance so that the rater will have accurate information on which to base the rating. This includes actually observing performance, observing objectively, and recalling what was observed accurately. In recalling information we tend to simplify what we observed by summarizing detailed information into categories (e.g., poor or good performance) instead of remembering the actual performance. This evaluative summary makes it difficult to later justify a rating when the specific performance cannot be recalled. It is better to keep systematic notes on the performance of all subordinates throughout the appraisal period. The notes should include the actual behavior and the circumstances under which it occurred. The supervisor should attempt to collect information relevant to each dimension of performance on the appraisal format and ensure that the behaviors recorded are representative of the employee's performance. Effective supervisors should have a good understanding of what each subordinate has done in terms of results and how each employee accomplished his/her results in terms of work activities. It has been recommended that supervisors allot thirty minutes a week to recording performance observations of subordinates. Information recorded should include the date of the observation, the observed behavior, outcomes stemming from the behavior, and the supervisor's impression of performance effectiveness relative to the standards. Research has shown that the best way to increase accuracy is to combine Performance Dimension Training, Performance Standards Training, and Behavior Observation Training. This is accomplished by familiarizing raters with the specific behaviors that makeup each performance dimension. By defining these behaviors early in the appraisal process, raters are able to attend to them and to make independent evaluations of specific behaviors without relying on general, global impressions. Behavior Observation Training emphasizes objectively observing and recalling the employee's performance. Performance Standards Training helps clarify the weight that should be given each behavior when combining them to determine the final evaluation.
16 DOCUMENTATION 16 Documentation serves many purposes. One of the most important is to show the reasoning that led to necessary, though unpleasant, decisions to discipline or terminate employees. However, it is just as important to document good performance. Written documentation can be a memory jogger for performance reviews, justification for promotions, raises, or rebuttal to EEO complaints involving work performance. What you document is performance. The employee's performance determines what you write. GUIDELINES IN PREPARING DOCUMENTATION: 1. Be accurate. 2. Document facts, not opinions, i.e., what was done (especially if it was inappropriate performance). 3. Note direct performance observations of actions and results. Do not include hearsay in your documentation. 4. Do not rely on your memory. Write things down soon after they happen. 5. Do not include documentation that is not behavioral. Describe the behavior, not personality traits or your attributions. 6. Be consistent in documentation, comments, and actions. 7. Cover each relevant performance dimension. The incidents recorded should mirror the distribution of performance that is observed for each ratee (i.e., incidents typifying average, above average, and below average performance for each individual). HOW MUCH DOCUMENTATION? How much documentation is enough? A useful rule of thumb would be to assume that someone else at your level with appropriate experience was going to look at your documentation. S/he should be able to come to the same conclusion you did or should at least be able to say "I see how you concluded that. " That's enough documentation. With an accumulation of incidents, the supervisor can see a consistent pattern of the employee's behavior. Documentation can be over done too. If you record page after page of minute details, you waste time and intimidate your subordinate. Only those aspects of performance that significantly contribute to or hamper the work effort are appropriate for documentation.
17 i THE ABC's of DOCUMENTATION 17 Accurate o Record objective facts concerning actual performance as it occurs, rather than from memory. o Record only job-related behavior. o Record direct observations rather than relying on hearsay. Behavioral Consistent o Describe specific behavior rather than making evaluative statements or describing an individual's personality. o Record both positive and negative behaviors rather than emphasizing either. o Keep the same basic format and level of detail of documentation for each subordinate. o Be consistent in your documentation, communication, and actions. SUGGESTIONS FOR WRITING DESCRIPTIONS OF BEHAVIOR 1. Use specific examples or descriptions of behavior, not conclusions about the "goodness" or "badness" of behavior. USE THIS: AB told her secretary when the work was to be completed, whether it was to be a draft or final copy, the appropriate spacing, and the type of paper on which to type it. NOT THIS: BA gives very good instructions to her secretary. The instructions are clear and concise. USE THIS: CD met with the subordinate to discuss the performance problem. The issues were explained to the worker, who reported that he was satisfied with the resolution. NOT THIS: DC did a good job handling worker problems. She is very considerate. 2. Avoid using statements that make assumptions about an employee's knowledge or attitude; use descriptions of the behavior. USE THIS: EF volunteered for the committee and attended every meeting. EF maintained the minutes for the group and edited the final report. NOT THIS: FE has a good attitude toward university service. He knows how to run meetings and does a good job. 3. Avoid generalizations and absolutes ; use descriptions of behavior. USE THIS: GH had his reports done and turned in before the due date both semesters. His departmental report was completed on the due date. NOT THIS: HG always meets deadlines. He's the best.
18 18 4. Provide sufficient detail so that an assessment can be made of the extent to which characteristics of the situation beyond the control of the ratee may have affected the behavior. USE THIS: IJ's failure to present the information at the meeting was due to the cancellation of the meeting when the conference room was closed for asbestos removal. The information will be included in the minutes of the meeting to be approved next month. NOT THIS: It wasn't JI's fault he didn't actually present the information. TEST YOURSELF ON DOCUMENTATION 1. I've heard that this employee wastes time in on the job. 2. This employee made a technical presentation to a committee meeting, didn't control the audience, visuals were poor, spoke in a monotonous voice, was unable to respond to questions. 3. This employee's "know-it-all" attitude interferes with his work. 4. This employee prepared the report within the specified time deadline. Report was concise, clear, and highlighted impact of Moving to New Levels on the department. Recommendations were made and favorably evaluated by other department members. 5. During the past year, this employee was too nasty for his own good.
19 GUIDELINES FOR EFFECTIVE FEEDBACK 19 For the manager who deals predominantly with high quality performers, the performance appraisal process is an enjoyable one. Although most managers would prefer to work in this type of situation, most find themselves working with employees whose performance ranges from unacceptable to exceptional and therefore having to adjust their appraisal to fit each employee. For the manager who is not trained in counseling on different kinds of performance problems, adjusting his/her approach to fit the needs of high-quality and lower-quality performers can be difficult. However, frequently the biggest problem for managers is that employees react to the appraisal on a personal level, not a professional one. The question is: What communication approaches can a manager use to more clearly communicate to an employee what s/he must do to improve performance? At the same time, what approaches help reduce employee hostility and defensiveness and also generate cooperation in working to improve performance - to increase acceptance of the information? Generally, using a problem-solving approach is most effective. Focus on the behavior that is causing the problem rather than on placing blame. Use a future orientation, that is, what can be done to improve subsequent performance rather than focusing on the past. Be proactive rather than reactive. More specifically, the following are guidelines for giving performance feedback. Note that the focus is on how the information is presented as well as on the content of the information. 1. Descriptive vs. Evaluative. The way to avoid evoking defensive behavior is by using descriptive rather than evaluative approaches to the problem. When a supervisor exhibits evaluative (i.e., blame placing) behavior, it will almost always elicit defensive behavior from the employee. The more personal, negative, and accusatory the evaluation by the supervisor, the more hostile and defensive the employee will become. By stating in a descriptive, non-personal way that a problem exists and then describing that problem, the supervisor is signaling to the employee that s/he wants to analyze and discuss a problem, not demean the employee. In such a way, the discussion can move on to the more constructive elements of the process, that is, the problem solving. Evaluative: You're a poor long-range planner. Descriptive: The long-range planning in your proposal needs some adjustments. Evaluative: You're careless. Descriptive: There are many errors in this report. 2. Impact of Behavior vs. Do It Differently. Effective feedback focuses on the impact the performance has on the unit and other individuals. It is not a demand for change. For example, it is more effective to say, "When you interrupt me it makes it difficult for me to explain my position. " than "You have to stop interrupting." The latter may reflect your honest opinion, but is not likely to be as effective in addressing the problem as the former. Helpful feedback is given so the person can better understand the effect their behavior has on others. It doesn 't rule out discussing different approaches - it just rules out a demand for change. Demand: You have to get your reports in on time. Impact: When your report is late it delays the completion of the departmental report.
20 3. Specific vs. General. Effective feedback gives specific examples of behavior rather than general ones. For example, it is more effective to say "You have interrupted me four times during this meeting." than "You always interrupt me." The more specific the feedback, the easier it is for the person to understand exactly what you mean, to believe what you say, and to develop a plan for change. It is easy to dismiss generalities such as "always" and "never." It is much more difficult to dismiss specific descriptions of behavior because the person knows they occurred. 4. Controllable vs. Uncontrollable. Effective feedback concerns behavior the individual can do something about. Telling someone about something over which they have no control may only frustrate them and can create resentment. Uncontrollable: Your co-workers are awfully noisy in the hallway. Controllable: Your shouting in the hallway disrupted my presentation this morning. 5. Timely vs. Late. Feedback is most effective when it is given as soon as possible after the occurrence. Of course, "as soon as possible" must be considered in light of your state of mind and with deference to the feeling of the individual to whom you wish to give the feedback. It is not a good idea to give feedback when you are angry, when it might embarrass the receiver, or when the receiver is particularly vulnerable or upset. It is better to wait until a more appropriate time when you are calm, the recipient is alone and calm. 6. Problem Orientation vs. Control Orientation. Effective feedback focuses on the effect the behavior has, that is, the problem. Attempting to analyze the reasons behind another individual's behavior is beyond the boundary of effective feedback. Rather than trying to attribute underlying motives, focus on the impact of the behavior. That is more objective and less likely to cause defensiveness. A control communicative stance emphasizes the supervisor's power over the subordinate. It is not likely to be as effective as a problem orientation because, like most of us, employees don't like to feel dominated by another person and react defensively when they do. The problem orientation will increase the employee' s sense of personal control over whatever the problem is. A problem orientation conveys a sense of respect for the employee ' s ability to work on a problem and to formulate meaningful answers to the problem. Focus on identifying and solving the problem, not on placing blame or controlling. 7. Positive and Negative vs. Only Negative/Only Positive. Effective feedback can be both positive and negative. Both are important. Yet there is a tendency to think of feedback in only negative terms. People are more likely to take negative feedback seriously if they believe that their positive behavior is also observed and acknowledged. People are more likely to believe the feedback you give them if they know you are being honest with them in general. Sometimes being honest involves negative feedback. The ideal is to find a balance between the two. This does not mean that every time you give someone negative feedback you must strain to find something positive to say. It does mean that over time there should be a balance. During a structured feedback session, there should be a balance over the course of the session. Acceptance is increased when you begin with positive feedback. It also puts the employee at ease to begin with minor issues and then proceed to the major issues. Some have suggested sandwiching negative feedback between positive feedback. But it is more important that the feedback be honest and accurate, that it deals with meaningful issues, and is not trivial. 20
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