Performance appraisals come in different forms. They may range from the simple written appraisal by an employee’s manager to a more intensive method called the 360 degree feedback instrument in which all those who “surround” the employee—customers, boss, colleagues, and direct reports—give a rating (a grade). Typically, employees are rated (or graded) on a scale of 1 to 5.
Companies that rely on performance appraisals to evaluate employees have the best of intentions. Unfortunately, however, those intentions frequently backfire. Employees do not see the value of performance appraisals. The Watson & Wyatt WorkUSA® 2004 study revealed that only 3 out of 10 U.S. workers say their company’s performance management program actually does what it intends to do—improve performance. And only 2 out of 10 workers say their company helps poorly performing workers improve.
The employees are right. Performance appraisals are worthless—for the simple reason that they do not accomplish their intended goal, which is improved individual and organizational performance.
Even when the employer’s stated intention is a positive one, which is improving motivation and performance, employees often end up feeling unfairly rated and unfairly judged because they are personally judged. This sense of being judged reduces trust; and a reduction in trust damages creativity, fun, and productivity. Just the opposite of what the employer hoped to accomplish.
There are several reasons why subjective judgment of the person, rather than empirical data about that person’s methods, undermines the appraisal process:
One of my clients hired a receptionist to answer the phone and perform basic customer service tasks. They hired her as a temporary employee, did not give her formal training, and asked the other customer service employees to judge her overall performance and track her mistakes so they could decide, after three to four months, whether to hire her full time. Does this seem fair? Is this how you would want to be treated? If this were you, would you be motivated? Feel loyalty?
An Alternative to Performance Appraisals
First, recognize the need to replace judgment with data. Collect empirical data, or help the employee collect data. Then use the data to elicit feedback. For example, if a manager is concerned about an employee’s mistakes, perhaps he or she can give the employee a tool to collect data, and then encourage the employee to make suggestions about how to reduce or eliminate the mistakes. People do not want to make mistakes. A manager does not have to introduce a “grade” to motivate.
Second, coach (do not threaten them with a grade) employees to improve their individual performance and help them work cooperatively to improve their workflow methods. If the manager wants employees to answer more calls per hour, he or she should help them track the data and coach them to suggest ways to reduce their wasted time.
Managers must change their focus from judging people to judging methods. Instead of using performance appraisals to rate the employees, they should rate the methods they use—and change those methods if they are faulty or flawed.
Motivation, productivity, creativity, and fun will increase when managers stop judging people and start evaluating methods.
Genesis of This Model
|R||Focus on Results: by looking beyond implementation to how best to sustain and institutionalize the product, process, or service|
|S||Take a System(s) viewpoint: by moving from the episodic to the systemic|
|V||Add Value and focus on the business or organizational purpose: by evaluating results in each step of the project|
|P||Establish Partnerships and work collaboratively: by forging a partnership between the performance consultant and the client|
Implementation is often the weakest link in a performance improvement project. Judy’s Implementation Model looks beyond rollout to sustainability, providing performance consultants with a path to success. For tools that support the Implementation Model, consult Judy’s books: The Performance Consultant’s Fieldbook and Performance-Based Management.
What if a law were suddenly passed preventing the educational establishment from using the word “dropout” to characterize students who leave school? What if they were required instead to refer to such students as “turned-offs”?
Dropout, after all, is a pejorative term—an emotionally loaded word—clearly implying that the blame for all school-avoidance behavior lies squarely with the students. It is disingenuous, but convenient. By characterizing students engaging in school-avoidance behavior as dropouts, the establishment can point their collective fingers at those students and absolve themselves of the need to wonder why the behavior occurred. If they do wonder, they are likely to confine their wonderings to alleged deficiencies on the part of the students, or to their “impoverished” home environments. That is a comforting stance, as there is then no need to bend the finger of wondering back in the establishment’s own direction.
Just for fun, let’s wonder what might happen if the dropout label were replaced with the turned-off label. That’s a loaded word, too, of course, but it may lead those in charge of many of the aversive stimuli to wonder what they are doing that drives students away. Oh, sure, teachers and administrators do not control all the variables resulting in avoidance behavior—but even if they controlled just a few, it would seem unprofessional not to ferret them out.
An effort to replace the dropout mindset with a turned-off orientation might lead to interesting, and productive, consequences. It might, for example, stimulate comments such as, “Our turned-off rate this year increased 10%, and we should take steps to find out why,” rather than, “Our dropout rate increased 10%, so we need to hire more truant officers.”
The label change might lead to increased introspection about possible causes of school-avoidance behavior.
Think of the money such a mindset might save. For example, there might be no further need for the anti-truancy industry, the demise of which would allow a sizeable amount of money to be diverted toward even more effective teaching.
That might then lead to creation of an internal unit—perhaps headed by a performance analyst—whose function would be to discover where the educational shoe is pinching so tightly that students are driven to think about avoiding the scene.
Identification of aversive stimuli and conditions might lead to wondering how those might be ameliorated—or even eliminated.
Then, as potential turned-offs began to feel more positively toward the school experience, that attitude shift might rub off on their parents, who might then attend parent-teacher meetings with more eagerness to explore the real reasons for the aversive behaviors. Parents might even wonder whether they, too, may be contributing to…no, no, sorry, lost my head there for a moment.
You must admit, though, that discussions not dominated by the “the student is to blame” mantra might stimulate productive thoughts leading to a school climate students would be eager to embrace, rather than to avoid at all costs.
You think that, with all its analysis expertise, ISPI might contribute toward such an end?
Dr. Robert F. Mager is an accomplished author and world-renowned expert on training and human performance improvement issues. Arguably the most well known and respected figure in his field, he is credited with revolutionizing the performance improvement industry with his groundbreaking work. Dr. Mager has been awarded the Distinguished Professional Achievement Award and Member for Life from the International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI). Dying for Jade is his latest book to hit the shelves.
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An effort to replace the dropout mindset with a turned-off orientation might lead to interesting, and productive, consequences.
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Find out for yourself why HR.com is where 135,000 HR professionals go to meet, greet, and be great. Visit www.hr.com today.
My ISPI presidency comes to an end in a couple of weeks at the Dallas conference. As outgoing president, I have been selected to write this month’s “From the Board” piece.
I thought of writing a report on the processes we used and the results we achieved during the year. I gave up on that idea to avoid boring and bureaucratic documentation. I thought of comparing the end of my current presidency with the end of my previous presidency 25 years ago. I abandoned that idea because it would be of interest only to three people (including me). So, I decided to go back to my personal goal for my ISPI presidency and see how I measured against it. The primary goal, according to my platform statement, was to be a servant leader and serve the ISPI membership and its Board of Directors.
I had the pleasure of talking to many ISPI members, especially young newcomers. I did this with our members around the world both virtually and face-to-face. I was able to incorporate many of the inputs in several Board conversations. These inputs are best reflected in the theme and the program of the Dallas conference: Researching the Radical. My special thanks are due to Matt Richter and the Conference Committee.
On the Board of Directors, perhaps my best achievement was getting out of the way of a group of talented and committed Directors. Let me begin by highlighting the work of three directors who are leaving the Board (hopefully to return later because they are truly masochistic). Please note that this is not an objective performance review but rather a subjective list of personal perceptions.
ISPI achieves most of its results through the dedicated and brilliant work of various committees and task forces. Marilyn Spatz contributed significantly to facilitating the work done by these groups. She worked effectively to ensure that enthusiastic volunteers can engage themselves in contributing to our organization. In addition, Marilyn played the schizophrenic role of taking care of the Board’s social needs and on-task obsessions.
Around the world, ISPI chapters have a critical role to play in ensuring a positive future. Andrea Moore played a highly effective role in facilitating ISPI chapter activities through the Chapter Partnership Committee. Chapter subcommittees have redesigned the Chapter Awards and created a CPT mentoring program.
ISPI and HPT are increasingly active in Europe, Latin America,
ISPI’s Professional Communities have become more active, proactive, and interactive with their conference tracks, newsletters, websites, and administrative structure. Matthew Peters, with a no-nonsense approach to organizational development, deserves a lot of credit for these developments. As a continuing member of the Board, Matt is going to maintain the momentum. Rumor has it that he will have increased free time in the near future.
Bob Bodine, another Director who is continuing on the Board, brought a powerful blend of business acumen and performance-technology expertise to streamlining ISPI’s financial and performance management policies and procedures. His contributions will benefit future Boards (and members) for years to come.
Previous Board members predicted that interactions between an Indian and an Italian are likely to produce interesting fireworks. Our Executive Director Rick Battaglia and I had several shouting matches, most of the time agreeing violently with each other. My initial impression (dated 10 years ago) that our organization is lucky (or shrewd) in having an executive of Rick’s caliber has been confirmed by my experiences during the past two years.
My sister Clare Elizabeth Carey has been getting things done with commitment and competence to improving both relationships and results. She worked with Bob, Andrea, and the others to produce a coherent, streamlined, and elegant version of the ISPI Strategic Plan with clear statements of vision, mission, guiding principles, goals, and desired results. Her important contribution should make it easy for the next ISPI President to accomplish ISPI’s goals with greater alignment fashion.
During the year, I was also privileged to work with the talented staff at ISPI headquarters, including Roger Addison, Roger Chevalier, April Davis, and Donna Vaught.
I had the privilege of inheriting ISPI in a healthy and dynamic state from Don Tosti and his Board. I am passing on the organization to the proven leadership of Clare Elizabeth Carey and her Board with excitement and expectation. I am grateful to you and to my colleagues on the Board for permitting me to serve you the past year. I am looking forward to the next phase of my relationship to ISPI with the reassuring words from my friend Danny Langdon that no ISPI president (present or past) has ever been assassinated.
For over 30 years,
We call research wild,
With breathless theories, new truths,
Which live beyond death.
Put the PT in timeless poetry that takes your breath
away. While you are on your way to Researching
the Radical at ISPI’s upcoming Annual Conference in Dallas,
Any listing is for informational purposes only and does not indicate an endorsement by either ISPI or myself. I hope you find these resources useful, and your feedback is greatly appreciated.
When he is not Internet trawling for ISPI, Todd Packer can be found improving business, non-profit, government, and individual performance through research, training, and innovation coaching as principal consultant of Todd Packer and Associates, LLC, based in Shaker Heights, Ohio. For sample articles on performance innovation and additional information, visit www.toddpacker.com. Todd may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In many organizations, there are lots of resources that have been developed over the years, including training and documentation manuals. These manuals are jam-packed with information that might be helpful; that is, if the manuals are ever opened. Sometimes this same information has been put online so performers can have easy access to the documentation. Yet still the information is rarely used. By following some simple tips, you can turn technical documentation from seldom-opened to widely-used.
Tip #1: Transfer the documentation to step-by-step
One of the major reasons why documentation is not used is that performers need to go through all the content and determine for themselves what is relevant to their job. Not only is this time-consuming and difficult, it also leaves a lot of opportunity for errors when key points are missed.
When the documentation is translated into step-by-step instructions that are written from the performer’s job and point of view, and derived from job performance requirements, the information is much more user-friendly. Performers don’t have to guess what is or isn’t relevant to them.
Tip #2: Validate the current information to make
sure it is still accurate
It’s not uncommon to find technical documentation or operating procedures that are extensive yet not totally up to date. We take the approach that existing information can be extremely valuable, but its accuracy needs to be validated with subject matter experts. We recommend that all existing documentation be carefully reviewed for accuracy and completeness.
Tip #3: Eliminate any holes or gaps in the existing
One of the most common results of the documentation review is identification of missing pieces (gaps or holes) that need to be addressed. These holes may only become apparent when the documentation is picked apart from the performer’s perspective. At this point, it becomes apparent that a step or a decision point is missing.
Tip #4: Limit the content to what is needed to perform
more and no less
By keeping the content lean, performers don’t get bogged down wading through extraneous information that doesn’t focus directly on the “how to.” Remember that performance, not knowledge, is the goal.
Tip #5: Organize the information by job tasks so
it is easy to find
No matter how useful the information may be, it doesn’t help the performer unless it can be quickly accessed. Careful thought should be put into what kind of organized directory will help performers find what they need without having to look in multiple places.
Tip #6: Use lots of white space in the formatting
to make the documentation user-friendly
Another way to make the documentation more user-friendly is by making the formatting easy to read and visually approachable. We recommend using formatting techniques like information mapping with lots of white space to increase the visual appeal.
Note: Reprinted with permission of CEP, The Center for Effective Performance. For more information, contact Paula Alsher at 770.458.4080 or email@example.com.
In today’s economic climate, Europe is facing a twofold challenge. First, there is a need to prepare European citizens better for entering the labour market, thereby reducing the number of unemployed. Second, companies need a skilled workforce to cope with rapid scientific and technological changes in an increasingly competitive world. The Added Value of Human Performance Technology for Life Long Learning is a project in which 11 organizations from six European countries work together to set up a European network, which will facilitate the exchange of experiences and good practices of a performance-based approach toward training in Europe. The project is partly funded by the Leonardo da Vinci Programme from the European Commission and promoted by Bureau Zuidema in the
The main target group of the project is HRD professionals in companies. The project has been running now for a year, and we have some first results. All six countries involved have explored the situation in their country regarding performance-based HRD. Reports per country as well as a synthesis report are available on the project website, www.theaddedvalue.nl.
In the project, we will set up pilot actions in companies based on a performance-based approach toward training (the pilot actions will run in the first six months of 2006). One pilot action in each participating country is foreseen. In a pilot action, HRD professionals will learn how a performance-based approach toward training can be implemented in their organization and will work with this new approach. Evaluation of the pilots should show the added value of this new way of working. To support the pilot actions, a training package for HRD professionals has been developed and translated into the project languages.
The success of the project’s knowledge exchange activities is closely tied to the need to effectively disclose the information at multiple sites, enabling project partners and potential users to sift through vast amounts of data. Information is contained in many different databases, document management systems, and websites. A variety of sources scattered around many organizations, with no easy method for easily accessing or—more important—analyzing and cross-linking. The project has chosen AquaBrowser technology to facilitate knowledge exchange. The AquaBrowser is an intelligent search engine that gets the professional to the resources fast. It expands thinking while searching the sources and leads to knowledge you would never think of. The knowledge bank is still under construction. A temporary version can be found at http://ispieurope.com/aquabrowser.
Joep Straathofis director of Bureau Zuidema and project promoter of the Added Value of HPT. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Jolanda Botke is project coordinator of the Added Value of HPT and may be reached at email@example.com.
Going to Dallas—why not also go to San Francisco? It might seem a bit premature to be thinking a year ahead to the next ISPI Annual Conference, but planning is already under way. And if experience is any gauge, then in Dallas many of you will feel the call to “get involved at next year’s conference.” So to get you ready, here is what you can expect in San Francisco…
The 45th Annual
International Performance Improvement Conference will be in a thoroughly international city at
the crossroads to the Pacific Rim, the
Think of the Community Space as a sort of world bazaar for performance consulting. This is the place where people will meet and discuss ideas from educational sessions, their own practice, and other inspirations. This is the place where members of the seven Professional Communities (ProComms) can gather to explore their areas of interest. Although English is the language of ISPI and the Annual Conference, non-English speakers will have the opportunity to ask questions in their own language, meet people from their home countries, and network in their own markets. Representatives for each continent will be present to assist with both content questions and orientation.
For newcomers to Human Performance Technology and ISPI, there will be a FAQ Corner where experts from ISPI will help in choosing which presentations to attend to close one’s own knowledge gaps. This will also be the meeting place for groups to head out on tours of sights and sounds of the San Francisco Bay Area. The Community Space will be the place to be in San Francisco 2007.
Making all this work will be a host of volunteers, who we are calling “Ambassadors.” This is where you come in—by volunteering to be a part of the 2007 Annual Conference. Some of the Ambassador “jobs” available include:
Join in! Help us! You will have fun, you will support the Society, and you will get to know many people, whom you would never have met otherwise·
If you’d like to contribute and want to find out what kind of job you could do, send an e-mail to Luise.Heeren@pd-international.de. Or, visit the 2007 Annual Conference booth next to the registration area at the Dallas Conference.
How Has ISPI Radically Enhanced Performance?
In keeping with this year’s Annual Conference theme, “Researching the Radical,” Performance Improvement (PI) journal invites readers to submit a special feature about how ISPI membership, conference attendance, CPT certification, or PI journal tips and tools have radically enhanced your individual or organization’s performance and have inspired you to think innovatively about the practice of HPT.
What’s In It for You?
The winning entry will receive a paid registration to next year’s conference, along with points toward CPT re-certification for being published.
The winner will also receive:
Results will be announced in the October 2006 issue of PI and the winning tool will be published in the November/December 2006 issue. All entries will be acknowledged in the journal.
Performance Marketplace is a convenient way to exchange information of interest to the performance improvement community. Take a few moments each month to scan the listings for important new events, publications, services, and employment opportunities. To post information for our readers, contact ISPI Director of Marketing, Keith Pew at firstname.lastname@example.org or 301.587.8570.
Have you subscribed to Darryl L. Sink & Associates, Inc’s Learning and Performance “TIPS” bimonthly e-newsletter at www.dsink.com? The Learning and Performance Conference returns on June 20-22, 2006, in Monterey, CA with The Thiagi Group. Mark it now on your new 2006 calendar!
ISPI is offering a two-day workshop on April 12-13, in Dallas, Texas, focused on using the Standards of Performance Technology as preparation for applying for the CPT designation. CPT application fees are included in the price of the workshop. For more information, please click here.
and Career Resources
ISPI Online CareerSite is your source for performance improvement employment. Search listings and manage your resume and job applications online.
Performance Improvement journal is ISPI’s premier HPT publication, reporting on the latest applications, trends, and ideas in the field. A subscription to PI is a benefit of membership, and non-members can subscribe for only $69 in the United States ($119 international).
Performance Improvement Quarterly, co-published by ISPI and FSU, is a peer-reviewed journal created to stimulate professional discussion in the field and to advance the discipline of HPT through literature reviews, experimental studies with a scholarly base, and case studies. Subscribe today!
Are you working to improve workplace performance? Then ISPI membership is your key to professional development through education, certification, networking, and professional affinity programs.
If you are already a member, we thank you for your support. If you have been considering membership or are about to renew, there is no better time to join ISPI. To apply for membership or renew, visit www.ispi.org, or simply click here.
ISPI is looking for Human Performance Technology (HPT) articles (approximately 500 words and not previously published) for PerformanceXpress that bridge the gap from research to practice (please, no product or service promotion is permitted). Below are a few examples of the article formats that can be used:
In addition to the article, please include a short bio (2-3 lines) and a contact e-mail address. All submissions should be sent to email@example.com. Each article will be reviewed by one of ISPIs on-staff HPT experts, and the author will be contacted if it is accepted for publication. If you have any further questions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Feel free to forward ISPIs PerformanceXpress newsletter to your colleagues or anyone you think may benefit from the information. If you are reading someone elses PerformanceXpress, send your complete contact information to email@example.com, and you will be added to the PerformanceXpress emailing list.
PerformanceXpress is an ISPI member benefit designed to build community, stimulate discussion, and keep you informed of the Societys activities and events. This newsletter is published monthly and will be emailed to you at the beginning of each month.
If you have any questions or comments, please contact April Davis, ISPIs Senior Director of Publications, at firstname.lastname@example.org.