Have you ever received a performance review at the end of the year? Or have you seen your HR manager and supervisors so happy to give a performance review at the end of the year? If you answered yes to one of the questions above, then you may want to question the rationality and justification of the review in respect to your 365 days of work filled with ups and downs. Imagine only one event overshadows all the good works you have been doing; how then do you justify “performance management?”
Performance management – I call it the “sacred sacrifice”. Let me share this story. In early 2012, I had the opportunity to be a member of a performance appraisal team that was going to appraise a group of employees in a medium size company in Canada – it was going to be my first-hand experience with the “sacred sacrifice”. The HR manager, a professional lady (who boasted to have studied in Imperial College, UK; and Harvard University, USA, was going to lead the appraisal.
Here is what struck me as a surprise, she was going to use same measure to appraise the employees in the Sales department and those in Finance department! She succeeded in using “objectivity criterion” for all employees. My attempt to correct her on this fallacy almost cost me my internship. The summary: shortly after the appraisal, 12 employees in the Finance department left the organization – they were trained and certified accountants. She almost lost her job though. Why? Because the thresholds and parameters for managing sales performance are not the same as managing finance.
Today, it is common to see such occurring. Ideally, I support performance appraisal but if it must be done, it should be done in fairness, and must be timely. In fact, HR managers have to work with the immediate supervisor(s) of the employee to give the review. I do believe that HR role should be rather reactive than proactive – you may argue this. In my sojourn in this discipline, I found that HR doesn’t really have any deep insight as to how an employee perform their works – it is usually the immediate supervisor and peers who are in custody of this knowledge. So how can HR wake up one morning and appraise an employee for all the works he or she did in the course of the year? That argument is lost and it even shows the various inefficiencies in handling performance appraisal.
Aside the reviewer being a problem which many experts have pointed out, another major problem I have found (having done this in four different situations) is that many managers use objective criterions to appraise an employee who ought to have been appraised by subjective criterions, and vice-versa; or even use them together. In fact, the very mistake my HR Manager made which saw 12 competent employees leave the company.
In my own human resource literature, giving performance appraisal is designed to help you improve, so taking the traditional process completely out will not happen now or soon. The only thing we see is that new technologies are being used to aid the process – the key is still “getting it right”, and this can only be achieved through a some factors such as re-educating and re-investing in the managers.
I do believe that the onus before HR is to work hand in hand with supervisors or develop a system that will allow supervisors and managers to be able to give a feedback on an employee after each task or work performed. HR can then, use these information to make judgement rather than this one on one sitting at the end of the year. Either-way, I do know for sure that traditional approach will be around for a little longer but what matters is ensuring that the feedback is proactive and allows for development not just criticism.