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spike bullet February, 1998 - Performance Reviews and Assessments

Performance Review/Evaluation - observations
Assessing Corporate Culture and your compatibility
Suggestions for improving the process
Internet Resources, books and the lighter side

Performance Review and Evaluation

The beginning of a new year is often a time for reviewing the past and looking forward. In some companies (or organizations), employee performance reviews are all at once in January. In others, they are done when a person reaches some milestone (annual anniversary, semi-annually, quarterly or at project completion).

In general, managers tend to see review/evaluation periods as something they must do, rather than as something enjoyable. Employees tend to become very stressed in anticipation of learning something unpleasant or being disappointed in their manager's review of their work. If the people involved become stressed, why bother at all? Judging another person's qualities is difficult at best. Evaluating another person without a long history of working well with them means that managers must often make "guesses." Again, making this a less than ideal process.

How can managers do a better job with evaluations and how can employees do a better job of letting their managers know how they feel? 

360-degree evaluation methods are gaining more attention. In 360 evaluation, people are reviewed by their manager, their peers and their employees (if any). The book, This Job Should be Fun, contains a sample Employee Evaluation of Supervisor Form, where supervisors/managers are rated on factors such as:

  • Sets a good example for others
  • Creates a positive work environment
  • Motivates employees to do their best
  • Gives clear directions and communicates well
  • Is a good listener
  • Plans and organizes department functions
  • Is generally fair in decision-making
  • Gives regular feedback on performance
  • Provides adequate support to complete tasks
  • Is willing to consider new ideas and suggestions
  • Is empathetic to employee's concerns
  • Acts professionally and creates a positive image.
  • In addition to standard evaluation methods, an ongoing program of learning about personality traits (their own and those in their work group) helps people see themselves in different ways. For example, a highly popular tool is the Myers-Briggs model (or David Keirsey's version), which groups people into 16 categories. When used properly, this method helps people understand how they react and see themselves and others more clearly. The book, Please Understand Me, a valuable tool for the general public, can be purchased at any bookstore.

    More complex tools include the Birkman method, which can be used individually or as part of a team exercise in learning how people can work well together. Talico has quite a few assessment instruments for evaluating: Leadership Effectiveness, Empowerment Management, Supervisory Aptitude and Skills, Team Member Behavior, and many more. The Johari Window is an effective tool for looking at how others view us, compared to how we view ourselves. Many companies, such as Crisp Publications, sell training programs and videos targeted toward human resources and management needs. Our Personality Game is a more complex look at personality traits, recognizing the uniqueness of individuals.

    Regardless of the method) used in evaluation, the best results occur when both managers and employees feel comfortable with each other, have mutual respect and are willing to learn about each other's traits, needs and working styles.

    The organizational culture plays a significant role in a person's ability to be highly productive, much more than most people are aware of. For example, a person who has spent many years in a military-style culture will often not be able to work well in an entrepreneurial environment. A person who is highly creative and needs a great of freedom in their work, will not usually be able to adjust to working in a government agency that requires very strict adherence to rules. In both situations mentioned, the employee's evaluation is likely to be less than enthusiastic if they are not conforming to the culture, even though in a healthy environment for them, they may be a shining star.

    Organizational Culture and Your Compatibility

    Instructions: This assessment has 2 parts:

    1. Answer questions by assessing where your company (or organization) is now, using the choices following each question. The score for each answer choice follow in parentheses. Total up all your answers.

    2. Answer the questions again for a company culture that lets you work at your best.

    One way to use the questionnaire is to print it, then use an red X to show where the organization's culture is now, and a red check mark to show where you work best (or use different color marks). (Note: Some browsers will only print our web pages correctly in Landscape mode).


    LEADERSHIP

    1. How much confidence do managers seem to have in employees?
    ___Don't Know (0), ___No confidence (1), ___Little confidence (5), ___Substantial confidence (10), ___Complete confidence (15)

    2. Do employees feel free to talk to managers about their job?
    ___Don't Know (0), ___Not at all (1), ___Not very (5), ___Rather free (10), ___Fully free (15)

    3. Are employees ideas sought out and used, if worthy?
    ___Don't Know (0), ___Seldom (1), ___Sometimes (5), ___Usually (10), ___Always (15)

    MOTIVATION

    4. How predominant does management use: Fear, Threats, Punishment, Rewards and/or Involvement?
    ___
    Don't Know (0), ___ Mostly Fear, Threats, Punishment with occasional Rewards (1), ___ Rewards, some Punishment (5), ___Rewards, some Punishment, some Involvement (10), ___Primarily Rewards and Involvement based on goals set by the group (15)

    5. Where is responsibility felt for achieving organization's goals?
    ___Don't Know (0), ___Mostly at the top (1), ___Top and middle managers (5), ___Generally throughout the company (10), ___At all levels (15)

    COMMUNICATION

    6. How much communication is devoted to achieving the organization's objectives?
    ___Don't Know (0), ___Very little (1), ___Little (5), ___Quite a bit (10), ___A great deal (15)

    7. How does information flow within the company?
    ___Don't Know (0), ___Top down (1), ___Mostly top down (5), ___Down and up (10), ___Down, up and sideways (15)

    8. How is "top down" communication accepted?
    ___Don't Know (0), ___With suspicion (1), ___Possibly with suspicion (5), ___With caution (10), ___With an open mind (15)

    9. How accurate is upward communication?
    ___Don't Know (0), ___Often wrong (1), ___Censored for boss (5), ___Limited accuracy (10), ___Accurate (15)

    10. How well do managers know and really understand the problems faced by employees?
    ___Don't Know (0), ___Very little knowledge or understanding (1), ___Some knowledge (5), ___Understand well (10), ___Understand very well (15)

    DECISION-MAKING

    11. At what level are decisions made?
    ___Don't Know (0), ___Mostly at the top level (1), ___Policy at the top levels, some delegation (5), ___Broad policy at the top, more delegation (10), ___Decisions made throughout, well integrated with overall organization goals (15)

    12. Where does the technical and professional knowledge used in decision-making originate?
    ___Don't Know (0), ___Top management (1), ___Upper and middle management (5), ___To a certain extent throughout the organization (10), ___To a great deal throughout (15)

    13. How much are employees involved in decisions related to and affecting their work?
    ___Don't Know (0), ___Not at all (1), ___Occasionally consulted (5), ___Generally consulted (10), ___Fully involved (15)

    14. What does the decision-making process contribute to motivation?
    ___Don't Know (0), ___Usually nothing (1), ___Relatively little or weakens motivation (5), ___Some contribution (10), ___Substantial contribution (15)

    ORGANIZATION'S GOALS

    15. How are organizational goals established?
    ___Don't Know (0), ___Orders issued (1), ___Mostly by orders, with some comment invited (5), ___Orders issued after discussion (10), ___Primarily by group action (15)

    16. How much covert resistance to goals is present?
    ___Don't Know (0), ___Strong resistance (1), ___Moderate resistance (5), ___Some resistance at times (10), ___Little or none (15)

    CONTROL ISSUES

    17. Is there an informal organization resisting the formal organization?
    ___Don't Know (0), ___Yes (1), ___Usually (5), ___Sometimes (10), ___No, they share the same goals (15)

    18. How are cost, productivity and other "control" data used?
    ___Don't Know (0), ___Policing punishment (1), ___Reward and punishment (5), ___Reward, some self-guidance (10), ___Self-guidance, problem-solving (15)

    19. How much cooperative teamwork exists?
    ___Don't Know (0), ___None (1), ___Little (5), ___Some (10), ___Great deal (15)

    20. Overall rating of corporate culture?
    ___Don't Know (0), ___Sick, toxic, unhealthy, stifling, hostile (1), ___Overly bureaucratic, but not hostile (5), ___Working to improve productivity (10), ___Great place to work! (15)


    Scoring the results:

    The higher the score, the healthier the organizational culture (in our opinion).

    Total under 100: The company is not taking advantage of employee contributions, ideas and energy. The company may be experimenting by restructuring, down-sizing, reengineering or still trapped by overly bureaucratic procedures.

    Total 101 - 200: The company is probably trying to improve communications and productivity; there may be departments and divisions that work very well and others that don't work as well.

    Total 201 - 300: The company is productive and most people like working there, even though there may still be areas where things are not ideal.

    If there are significant differences between your current company's culture and where you work best, you may be working in the wrong place. The greater the difference between the existing corporate culture and your ideal working situation, the less happy and productive you are. The less happy and productive you are, the more energy is wasted trying to conform to something unnatural to you or constantly feeling frustrated by fighting the culture.

    If you are a manager or executive, you may want to consider how you can help people work more effectively. When people's goals are well aligned with the company's goals, jobs seem easier as well as enjoyable. The companies that have learned that lesson achieve high productivity and profitability.

    Suggestions for Improving the Process (for Managers)

    1. Learn about different ways of doing evaluations (see the resource page)
    2. Learn more about yourself, your personality and your best working style.
    3. Learn about your company's culture and how you fit into it.
    4. Think about what goals you are trying to achieve, and how well they mesh with the company's goals.
    5. Think about what jobs and job descriptions best fit the company's goals, including attitudes and personality traits.
    6. Hire people that meet the goals of the company and the jobs to make it successful.
    7. If your current employees don't have the right skills, personality or attitude, investigate what training programs are available to help them. If they can't contribute in positive ways, help them find other opportunities that will better use their talents and skills.
    8. Get evaluations from your employees on your own skills and abilities through regular contact with them
    9. Really listen to their concerns on a regular basis, not just once a year.
    10. Ask people who have suggestions to investigate possible solutions. That helps them become more responsible for participating in the change process.
    11. When people bring you realistic solutions, show them respect and be willing to try their suggestions. That example encourages even more people to become involved in the problem-solving process.

    Suggestions for Improving the Process (for Employees)

    1. Learn about different ways of doing evaluations (see the resource page).
    2. Learn more about yourself, your personality and your best working style.
    3. Learn about your company's culture and how you fit into it.
    4. Think about what goals you are trying to achieve, and how well they mesh with the company's goals.
    5. Think about your job and your job descriptions and how that fits into the company's goals, including your attitudes and personality traits.
    6. Keep a running list of your accomplishments that promote the company's goals and your department's goals.
    7. Keep you manager informed about how you are contributing.
    8. If you find that you need training, investigate what training programs are available and request that the company provide them, or search out training or education on your own.
    9. Get evaluations from your manager and peers on your own skills and abilities through regular contact with them
    10. Really listen to their concerns on a regular basis, not just once a year.
    11. Before going to your manager with a complaint, spend some time investigating possible options and solutions. If you are prepared with viable solutions, you can save you and your manager a great deal of time and energy.
    12. If you dump a problem in a manager's lap to be solved, you may find that their solution is not what you had hoped for. Not many busy managers have the time or interest in reading your mind. If you provide realistic solutions, they will usually will listen to you.

    World Wide Web graphic Internet Resources

    world wide web - articles  Articles

      Assessment and Evaluation Tools

    book graphic  Books

    • 360 Degree Feedback: The Powerful New Model for Employee Assessment & Performance Improvement" Mark R. Edwards and Ann J. Ewen MACOM; (May 1996) ISBN: 0814403263
    • Please Understand Me II, David Keirsey.  Prometheus Nemesis Book Co; (May 1998) ISBN: 1885705026
    • The Personality Puzzle: Solving the Mystery of Who You Are. Jose Stevens, JP Van Hulle. Pivotal Resources; (December 1990) ASIN: 0942663063
    • This Job Should Be Fun! Bob Blasso with Judi Klosek (contains evaluation of supervisor form) iUniverse.com; (December 2000) ISBN: 0595141420

    smiley graphic  The lighter side

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    Page updated: June 05, 2009     

    The 10th Need: Mischief    :)

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