To get the best performance on a team, managers should do a regular performance planning process. And to make sure this planning process runs well, both behavioural and results expectations should have been set. Performance in both of these areas should be discussed and feedback provided on an ongoing basis throughout the rating period. In addition to providing feedback whenever exceptional or ineffective performance is observed, providing periodic feedback about day-to-day accomplishments and contributions is also very valuable.
Unfortunately, however, this does not happen to the extent that it should in organisations because many managers are not skilled in providing feedback. In fact, managers frequently avoid providing feedback because they do not know how to deliver it productively in ways that will minimize employee defensiveness.
For the feedback process to work well, experienced practitioners have advocated that it must be a two-way communication process and a joint responsibility of managers and employees, not just the managers. This requires training for both managers and employees about their roles and responsibilities in the performance feedback process. Managers’ responsibilities include providing feedback in a constructive, candid and timely manner. Employees’ responsibilities include seeking feedback to ensure they understand how they are performing and reacting well to the feedback they receive. Having effective, ongoing performance conversations between managers and employees is probably the single most important determinant of whether or not a performance management system will achieve its maximum benefits from a coaching and development perspective.
Research has shown that for feedback to have the most value, it needs to be given in close proximity to certain events. It does not help employees to receive feedback nine months after something has happened. And, their performance will likely not improve on its own while the supervisor is waiting for the end-of-year review session to occur. Ongoing feedback can be informal and should occur as part of the daily work routine. In fact, research has shown that in organisations where employees report higher levels of ongoing, informal feedback, performance levels are higher.
Guidelines for providing feedback effectively:
Employee input has been used effectively in many organisations. It sometimes takes the form of asking employees to provide self-ratings on performance standards, which are then compared with the manager’s ratings and discussed. However, experienced practitioners have found that this type of process and discussion can lead to increased defensiveness, disagreements and bad feelings between employees and managers, especially if managers ultimately rate employees less effectively than they have rated themselves. An alternative way of collecting employee input is to ask employees to prepare statements of their key results or most meritorious accomplishments at the end of the rating period.
When done effectively, employee input could give a number of positive results. For example: it involves employees in the process, enhancing ownership and acceptance. Employee input also reminds managers about the results employees have delivered and how they were achieved. Employee-generated accomplishments can be included in the formal appraisal, decreasing managers’ writing requirements. Employee input increases communication and understanding. Managers and employees usually review and discuss the accomplishments before they become part of the appraisal, resulting in fewer disconnects between the manager’s and the employee’s views of the employee’s contributions. Finally, employee accomplishments can be retained and used as input for pay or promotion decisions.
Guidelines for writing employee accomplishments:
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