For some, feedback may seem a lot like going to the dentist.  It happens once a year and we dread it or avoid it as long as possible (despite espousing its benefits to others!).  

But then, there's others who embrace feedback, seek it out and seemingly thrive on it.  

The big difference between these two types of attitudes to feedback is in their mindset. Let's look at some prevalent mindsets around feedback that are holding people back from being the best they can be in the workplace (and beyond).

Despite so much talk about how ineffective and counter-productive performance management is in its current form, there's few organisations who seem to have nailed getting it right.  But why?

Organisations are tinkering around the edges of performance management (e.g. changing the forms, modifying a rating scale etc.) without really addressing the root cause of its lack of impact on performance and productivity.  But as we all know, doing the same thing over and over again will generally yield exactly the same results.  

Or, companies are abolishing their performance review process but without a clear plan on what or how they will do differently in its absence.

So what can you do now to make your performance management approach awesome?  

The word ‘agility’ is used frequently in discussions these days to describe desired characteristics of leaders, team members and organisations.  And that’s appropriate, as the environment in which organisations and their people now operate is increasingly dynamic, complex and volatile. 

Yet despite this acknowledged imperative for individual and organisational agility, so many HR processes are the antithesis of agile.

 Let’s focus on employee performance management.

Is there a more maligned piece of paperwork in the workplace than the performance management/appraisal form?

"The forms are too long and too complicated".  

"It takes too much time to complete the forms".

"The rating scale has too many/too few options". 

The list goes on and on.

Anecdotal evidence about the current state of performance management in Australia suggests that there is a significant proportion of employees without the fundamentals of good performance in place.  

So why then is it that managers in organisations don't treat the expenditure on salaries of employees with the same level of scrutiny that they do contractor or consultant fees?

As the end of the year fast approaches many organisations are abuzz with a flurry of activity as managers conduct performance reviews with each of their people. Now I acknowledge that many people dispute the value of a performance review, but as argued in a previous post, if performance management is done well by a manager across a whole cycle and if it is linked to business strategy, then a performance review should be a valuable tool for the manager, team member and organisation alike (see http://tinyurl.com/3el7nya).

In the midst of all this work a golden opportunity is often lost by organisations - the chance to turn performance review data into strategic information.

For the purposes of this discussion let's assume that an organisation's performance management process uses a combination of performance objectives and competencies against which a person's performance is assessed and that some type of overall performance rating is determined (numeric or otherwise).

I have noticed a trend in recent years of articles being published which declare the death of the performance review or which deride them as a waste of time. In this latest post, I offer the counter view that the performance review is not the problem, but that it has had its reputation sullied by the following common contributors to ineffective performance reviews:

1. Performance appraisals rather than performance management cycles. A performance appraisal is a one-off event with little link to business strategy.  A genuine performance review should be the final phase of a performance management cycle (annual or six monthly) which commences with setting performance objectives linked to business goals. This distinction is the critical factor which determines whether performance reviews are perceived as just another bureaucratic HR process or a valuable business tool.

2. A dearth of SMART objectives. Despite all the talk about and training in setting SMART objectives they are still all too rarely seen. This renders the performance evaluation too subjective and people lose trust in the fairness of the process. Setting SMART objectives requires a commitment of time and energy and a ruthless approach to making them SMARTer.