A buzz continues around the idea that performance evaluations are an evil endeavor. Books have been written touting the notion that organizations should throw away their performance evaluation systems. So-called “experts” claim that evaluations are not necessary or are even bad for business. What are these people thinking?
If your organization is thinking about eliminating your annual performance evaluation, think again! When performance evaluations are seen as unproductive, it’s usually the result of operator error. The benefits of performance evaluations far outweigh the frustrations and the solution is not to throw them out. The solution is to reframe the purpose of evaluations and refocus your approach.
Here’s what will happen if your organization gets rid of the performance evaluation:
1. Employees get the message that their contribution is not important.
When there is no formal process to document and recognize an employee’s work, it is unlikely the employee will get the acknowledgement he/she deserves. A written performance evaluation serves as a summary of the employee’s efforts. One way employees interpret their perceived value to the organization is based on how seriously the manager approaches the feedback process. The quickest way to say, “you are valued,” is to put thoughtful effort into the annual review.
2. The importance of feedback is de-emphasized.
Organizations that eliminate annual performance evaluations reduce the opportunity to encourage regular feedback between supervisors and employees. While many organizations struggle to foster high levels of communication in the workplace, the annual review provides at least one opportunity for a focused conversation on performance. Eliminate the annual review and the incentive to communicate about performance vanishes.
3. Managers aren’t held accountable for coaching and feedback.
When an organization does not have a systematic approach for providing feedback to employees, managers have no incentive to do so. The best performance management systems hold managers accountable for providing feedback, maintaining performance documentation, and carrying out the performance evaluation. Without a performance evaluation system, it’s less likely managers will embrace their role as performance coaches.
4. The employee’s performance record will have huge gaps.
Without regular performance evaluations, both the organization and the employee lack a record of performance. Accurate and honest performance evaluations provide a sound defense if the organization is ever challenged on an employment decision. Likewise, employees benefit from having a written summary of their performance. The evaluation document provides a history of the employee’s accomplishments and offers proof of the employee’s performance to future managers both inside and outside of the organization. Without performance evaluations, there is no formal, official record of the employee’s work.
Some of the current literature espousing the abolishment of performance evaluation systems recognizes the need for regular, continuous performance feedback to employees. However, without an easy-to-use system, feedback rarely happens. If you are thinking of getting rid of your performance evaluation system, think again.
Marnie E. Green is Principal Consultant of the Management Education Group, Inc. and is a leading expert in the management of public sector employees. Her book, Painless Performance Evaluations, is used worldwide by federal, state, and local government leaders. Contact Green at phone: 480-705-9394 email: email@example.com web site: http://www.managementeducationgroup.com. We offer this article on a nonexclusive basis. You may reprint or repost this material as long as Marnie Green’s name and contact information are included.