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Kim Morris Lee, Director, Organizational Effectiveness
Managers often dread having to complete employee performance appraisals. It’s usually a “one-and-done” annual event checked off the list of management responsibilities.
Placing the “right” talent strategically across UIC is critical to developing and executing the university’s strategic plan – accomplishing micro and macro goals. While placement is the first step, the next and one to maintain throughout the employee lifecycle is development – professional development. This action is inextricably linked to the performance management process. This is a defined business process that includes an employee performance review. That’s correct, a business process, not an annual event. It’s also a review, not an evaluation. It’s about reviewing actions that have been taken to achieve defined objectives. How did the employee help the college, department, or unit achieve annual objectives that were confirmed and discussed at multiple points during the year?
Implementing a process to provide guidance and direction and level-setting expectations about performance in the workplace is becoming standard operating procedure. Messages are delivered that performance is managed by individuals who accept responsibilities and remain accountable for achieving results. In top performing companies, employee performance management is an integral part of day-to-day work. It is a “value-add” rather than a burdensome, demotivating activity.
According to recent Gallup research, almost two-thirds of Americans are in a state of disengagement or active sabotage in the workplace. Turning this around will require an enormous organization-wide change management plan focused on human capital value expectations. Senior executives need to ask a few key questions -- Is the organization structured to support a high performance “value” proposition? What operational course-corrections are required to best leverage employee competencies?
Eliminate “performance evaluations” and create a performance management process that is aligned with the college or unit business strategy and operating procedures.
Collaborate – Much of developing high performing teams is embedded in dialogue. Management should connect with each individual on the team to confirm strengths and better understand how employees would like to leverage competencies to achieve defined goals – contribute to success of the organization. With focused dialogue, management can partner with employees to identify and commit to meaningful (and observable) job-related performance goals that are aligned with the organization’s mission and priorities.
Guide and Coach – The primary responsibility of individuals leading others in organizations is to set the stage for team members to leverage their skills to accomplish business objectives. Engage in ongoing dialogue about progress being made to achieve define goals. Open doors and remove obstacles on a daily basis (if necessary) to allow team members to use their talents and make a meaningful contribution in the workplace.
Focus on Performance – Positive organizational results is the goal – not a specific number on a rating scale. Consider required action to accomplish defined expectations and monitor employee’s follow-through. Observe what was done to deliver service or product flawlessly. Confirm behavior that requires change to be more customer-centric. Engage in discussion that clearly defines expectations. Demonstrate or point-out others exhibiting expected behaviors. Often employees need a visual of what “high performance” or “exceeding expectations” look like in the workplace.
Management teams need to shift thinking to enable employees to perform to their full potential in the new work environment – confirm observable job performance expectations with timelines, engage in dialogue throughout the year about goal achievement, and create a performance review process that is simple and relevant – aligned with the university’s mission.
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