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November 11, 2013

Managing Performance – II (Performance Appraisal Form)

In this post we focus on Data Collection and Presentation (Performance appraisal form - PAF) part of Managing Performance.

Every organization has Managers, Human Resources and Employees using Performance appraisal format as common key element of Performance Management systems.  Let’s discuss tips and vital elements of this important and often neglected part of process.
As an Employee:
·       Firstly, you don’t fill PAF for Process, Your Manager, HR or Company. You do it for ‘YOURSELF’. This is your Marketing Brochure. To quote a colleague from GE, “It’s (PAF) your Organizational Horoscope, don’t make it your Horrorscope.
·       Don’t wait for year-end/appraisal time to complete, keep recording information on weekly /fortnightly basis, it is much easier to consolidate and delete extra information instead of remembering everything at the end of period (mostly a year).
·        Create PAF, review it, improve it, and get it reviewed by your colleagues, HR, Manager etc. While doing so, be careful about sensitivity of information contained in document. Whether people you are seeking help should be privy to data and information contained in your PAF.
·       Think how much effort and time you spend while preparing a proposal, technical specification or client presentation. Why not leverage same skills, intensity and focus for your own Marketing Brochure.
·        Avoid Jargons, acronyms. They look cool on Social Media or SMS chats. PAF is a business document with your Career at stake. Objective isn’t to be cool but to communicate about you as a professional.
·       You own your career, so don’t pass the Buck by blaming it on HR, Company or your Manager.
As Manager:
  • A well written and documented PAF provides you an opportunity to validate your perception of team members. Having evaluated performance and contribution of your team members in light of data, you are able to be fair in your assessment of employees.
  • Information collected in PAF will provide significant and important support in future decision making, while filling important positions in teams or organization at large.
  • Instead of being a formality (paperwork) to be completed, it is a snapshot of your team portfolio and should be foundation of your People Decision Support System.
  • First task should be to review quality of information provided in the form. Provide feedback and coaching to employee in improving quality of data and information. You may not be equipped to do it yourself (there is nothing wrong in acknowledging and accepting this fact) and might need to ask for help from HR.
  • Don’t treat PAF as exam paper which you have to evaluate and give marks. Poorly written or a form missing vital information regarding an employee’s contribution isn’t an opportunity to use as an excuse to deny due rewards. 
  • Similarly, going ahead and trying to do employee part in manager’s feedback and giving ratings /feedback, rewards, development plan etc., on incomplete form is an important opportunity missed. It’s like deciding to invest in a firm with shoddy financial statements, on basis of your instinct.
Human Resources Team:
·        HR team has an opportunity to contribute significantly by spending time in coaching and counseling employees individually in improving quality of PAF.  HR can transition from being seen as policemen to employee partner. When you help an employee improve his/her PAF, you build a strong bond based on trust.
·       Organization (Managers, HR), will be seen interested in promoting and recognizing performance. This will reduce lot of fire fighting and rework post appraisal process.
·       Spend less time on designing new forms and policies, go back to basics;  train, coach and counsel people in using tools better.
·       Be passionate and persistent about quality of information collected through performance appraisal forms, Focus on simple and useful information instead of trying to collect too much data. In my experience, 50-60% of data is never used and collected upfront in forms. So bring important part in front/beginning of PAF you design.
·       Reaching out and helping people during this part of process will yield much better return compared to lot of Retention tools and schemes we implement.
Warm Regards,
Pankaj


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