When was the last time you sat down to review an employee’s performance and been on exactly the same page? Invariably, a manager’s assessment of performance and an employee’s self-assessment have gaps. In some cases, employees rate themselves more harshly than their managers do. More commonly, though, employees come to a performance review unaware of any shortcomings in their performance and are often surprised to discover that improvement is required.
Photo by Jenavieve, Flickr
In most cases, this perceptual disconnect develops when
performance reviews are infrequent (e.g. annually or less often);
For a conscientious employee who strives to do well, a critical performance review under circumstances like these feels like an ambush. To reduce this gap between management and employee perception of performance and avoid bushwhacking your people, here are a few things you can do:
Offer timely feedback: catch people doing something right and tell them right away. And when you see behavior or results that are not acceptable, tell them that too, as soon as you can.
When offering this timely feedback, remember to praise publicly and correct privately. While praise and recognition are powerful motivators for many people, being disciplined or “scolded” in public is humiliating and can prevent your message from being received.
Incorporate regular peer feedback (like our own Kudos and 360 feedback features). Sometimes people have to hear things from more than one source to accept it. Recent research has also found that employees are more responsive to (and more inclined to believe) feedback from peers.
Create an environment of continual learning where everyone is expected to upgrade on a regular basis. Make regular personal and professional development part of the culture so it won’t be considered discipline when an employee hears that an area of performance requires improvement.
When the Gap Can’t be Closed
Occasionally you'll have to deal with an employee who refuses to accept any suggestion that their performance is less than stellar.
The bully who is absolutely convinced she’s just “looking out for the organization” and everyone else is trying to get away with slacking off.
The perpetually late employee who insists that he still does more work than everyone else and besides, what difference can 15 minutes make?
The customer support person who insists that she’s great with the customers and that’s why the “crazy” ones keep getting put through to her.
The caustic supervisor who shreds everyone’s self-esteem but refuses to take the communications training offered because it’s “all in their heads.”
What can you do with employees who just won’t acknowledge their own shortcomings?
Start again with frequent feedback. Don’t “save up” critical feedback for the official performance review.
Make sure that corrective feedback is provided in a professional and non-confrontational way so it's less likely to be interpreted as a personal attack.
Document and share specific examples of unacceptable performance or behavior. The more factual evidence you have the harder it will be for your employee to ignore or rationalize your feedback.
Incorporate peer feedback if it’s available.
Be very clear in providing critical feedback; stating expectations and how performance falls short of those expectations, and describing consequences if performance does not improve.
When coaching for improvement, schedule shorter, more frequent coaching sessions to avoid overload and better support the formation of new habits.
Recognize performance improvement and encourage continued movement in the desired direction.
If the employee’s denial is firmly entrenched, accept that you may not be able to affect positive change. The first step in healing, growing, learning and changing is acknowledgement that the current situation does not work. An employee who refuses to acknowledge the existence of a problem is unable to overcome that problem. In that instance, the steps described above will form the basis for dismissal for unacceptable performance.
We changed the clocks for daylight saving time this past weekend. Usually a key harbinger of spring, the time change just hasn't had as much impact this year. Maybe that's because many of us who live in the northern hemisphere are still pretty much snowed-in, with only the slightest signs of a gradual thaw. But there are signs—like the slow but steady drip from the massive icicle I watch through my window, willing it to melt faster.
Photo by Quinn Dombrowski, Flickr
Anyone who has lived through this frigid, lingering winter, knows that weather affects mood.
If you’ve ever watched children playing a game of Marco Polo in the swimming pool, you have a fundamental grasp of the power of feedback. With eyes closed, relying only on the voices of other players, the person who is “it” (Marco) must find and tag someone in the pool. Players respond by shouting “Polo” whenever Marco shouts out. These audio clues provide a stream of feedback that Marco follows until the goal of tagging another player is achieved. Without the feedback, Marco would flounder around the pool blindly with little opportunity to succeed.
Although there’s a lot of evidence that brain health is improved when a mind remains active and challenged; increasingly, research shows that mental downtime is even more important. In his article in Scientific American, Why Your Brain Needs More Downtime, Ferris Jabr writes:
Brain Health by Dan Century, Flikr
“Downtime replenishes the brain’s stores of attention and motivation, encourages productivity and creativity, and is essential to both achieve our highest levels of performance and simply form stable memories in everyday life. “
Some research suggests the brain’s ability to make sense of
In today’s workplace, multitasking is appreciated by many as a good work habit and a sign of commitment to the job. Some people seem to be able to juggle personal crises, help co-workers and still get their work done. While they may whirl like dervishes, they seem to take it all in stride without breaking a sweat. These people are powerhouses of productivity—or does it just seem that way?
Mardi Gras Multitasking by Bart Everson, Wikimedia Commons
Former Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, was considered by some to be as powerful as the president during his
One of the most challenging aspects of training is quantifying results. The reason it’s challenging stems from the fact that learning can be difficult to measure. In the workplace, however, it’s critical to measure results to determine whether required information has been absorbed and skills have been acquired—not to mention gauging whether the investment was justified.
Excellence by John Fischer, Flickr
To make sure they can effectively measure the impact of training, good workplace training program developers create learning objectives using a specific format that ensures results can be assessed. Each measurable learning
Cultivating an understanding of risk management fundamentals is valuable at any level of an organization: whether you’re an executive considering the broader risks your company is exposed to in a globally competitive environment, or a front line supervisor responsible for workplace safety.
Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain
Pro-Active Risk Management
Ideally, risk assessment and mitigation is part of every planning process. One of the most common areas where pro-active risk management can improve outcomes is at the project level. When planning a project, risks can be categorized into two groups.
Internal Project Risks: These are risks to the project
Self Concept by Nathalya Cubas, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0
In 1960, Prentice-Hall published a book by well-known plastic surgeon, Maxwell Maltz. This book, Psycho-Cybernetics, went on to sell over 25 million copies worldwide and is still considered one of the most influential writings about self-concept and the power of visualization in attaining goals.
Maltz discovered that the majority of his patients who underwent cosmetic surgery procedures were still dissatisfied with their looks after the “problems” were corrected. He concluded that people were responding to some inner perception of how they look, rather than seeing what was now in
USA gold medal winner Heather O'Reilly by Geoff Livingston, Wikimedia Commons,Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic
Malcolm Gladwell, author of Outliers: The story of success, writes that accomplishment is all about practice, timing and the doors that are opened for you along the way. In fact, Gladwell firmly believes that inherent talent has little, if anything, to do with success. He provides a number of convincing examples and trends that support his premise: success is about being in the right place at the right time with access to the right people and tools; and that mastery of
Geographic Project, Barrie Eyre, Wikmedia Commons
We recommend that vacation time be a time to unplug, unwind and recharge. Taking work on a vacation does not help with any of those objectives. On the other hand, turning remote work into something enjoyable in a vacation-like environment never hurt anyone.
This is not to suggest that “workations” replace regular vacations. On the contrary, this is about doing the work you might normally do in your home office or at a co-working location on a beach, at a cottage, on your patio or even on a mountaintop.
Sometimes a change