I am excited to announce a new series of guest bloggers joining me from time to time to share their views of management and leadership. My first guest is a long-time friend and colleague, Roger Ferguson, Founder of ISI Human Resources Consulting.
We’ve worked together for many years. He is a certified human resource professional who has developed a brave new alternative to those old, tired employee assessment models. Here is his work….
If you are like most of us you dread your annual employee performance appraisal. The process requires a significant amount of time and effort and the results are rarely significant. You are not alone. The research on the traditional employee appraisal process is overwhelmingly negative. No one appears to believe that is an efficient or effective process. Why do we continue?
The answer is actually very simple. HR departments don’t have a better option. We all say that we want feedback from their managers, government agencies insist on fair treatment and equal pay for employees, and most large companies have invested heavily in software that perpetuates the traditional, annual process. So where’s your heroic opportunity? What if you could show your company a better way?
Big Five Performance Management is a creative and effective alternative. Here’s how it works. Each month, on or before the fifth calendar day, each employee prepares a half-page email to their manager detailing their five most significant accomplishments from last month, and their five highest priorities for the current month. Bullet points are preferred as this is designed to be quick and concise communication.
The manager’s job is to respond to each email, usually in one of three ways. The manager can signal generally agreement with a one/two sentence response, (“We are in agreement. March on!”). The manager can provide coaching and clarification by line item, responding to some or all of the ten items in the original employee email, (“Don’t forget the ACME account!”).
Sometimes the manager will need to call for a face-to-face meeting, (“See me. Let’s make sure we are on the same page.”). Each of these monthly reports, when collected for a 12 month period, tend to paint a much better picture of an employee’s contribution to the team than traditional appraisals (“Bill is a team player who always gives 100%. His score is a 4.2.”).
The benefits of Big Five are significant. Here are the five, surprise, that are most important.
- Most of us already prepare some sort of weekly/monthly report for our managers, even if we are only doing so informally to be able to report our progress in a staff meeting. After all, what are staff meetings but a chance for employees to report on what they have done, what they plan to do, and what help they may need to get things done. Why not formalize this effort and incorporate it into performance appraisal? That would give us one aligned process.
- With Big Five, the need for an annual performance review meeting and a determination of an employee score are eliminated. Can you imagine? No more wasted time, no more stress about being “taken to the wood shed” for your annual beating, no more, “Why did he get a 4.2 when I only got a 3.8?” Are you beginning to see how heroic this could be?
- Monthly feedback is, by definition, more effective than annual feedback, especially in today’s social media world where millennials consider anything over a month old to be yesterday’s news.
- Big Five takes much less time to administer. On average, employees spend a maximum of ten minutes per month. The reason is that we already spend a great deal of time preparing our lists of the things we have gotten done and the things we need to do. For most of us, this type of thought pattern is natural, normal, and almost certainly a part of our daily planning as we commute to and from work. Managers spend less than ten minutes per employee per month providing feedback. The continual and on-going nature of the process tends to improve their ability to provide constructive feedback as Big Five has a very nice way of converting what was considered “assessment” into “coaching.” The less formal nature of Big Five makes it easier for managers to give feedback and that feedback is generally viewed as less threatening by employees.
- Big Five can be easily incorporated into your existing software.
If you would like more information, pick up a copy of Finally! Performance Assessment That Works, via Amazon/Kindle or contact Roger at firstname.lastname@example.org. How many chances do you get to be a hero?