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  • Intelligent Shift

Performance Appraisals make me angry!

Performance appraisals make me angry. That might sound odd because I love feedback. To the point- I once overhead my daughter say, “I don’t want to enter (the science fair) because people may tell me my project is wrong.” My wife replied, “Don’t say that to your Dad. No one likes feedback more than he does.” Amanda knows me best.

So how could I hate performance appraisals which are supposed to be structured feedback? Because barely any companies focus them on feedback. It’s about a rating number, or the manager doesn’t want to upset you so they write generic stuff, or your manager is far removed from your work, or it is only once a year, or . . . . I could go forever. Often it is all these things, but rarely true feedback.

A couple of years ago I had one of the strangest conversations of my life. I had an employee that was stellar. I gave her the top rating. She rejected the appraisal saying she didn’t deserve it. We never got past the number. We never discussed strengths and improvements. In short, the performance review did not accomplish the singular goal of helping the employee improve. It did help the company justify the raises we planned to give.

A couple months ago we decided to let our employees design our performance review system. They create "The Summit Program." I sat in on one of the virtual sessions where about 8 of them debated furiously. What should the company get from this process? What about the employee? The manager? They took a truly rounded view. The result: quarterly short feedback sessions. (You know I like that!). One of the 4 sessions, includes salary discussions. Meanwhile, career next steps are always open for discussion. And of course, employees should expect to hear tangible ways to improve themselves each time. We'll save time for feedback to the manager and company. A two-way street.

While designing Summit, our employee council came up with these four value statements.

Mission: Partner with our clients and team members to ensure mission success

Enthusiasm: Actively contribute to the maturation of Intelligent Shift

Servant Leadership: Empower others to achieve their goals

Intellectual Curiosity: Demonstrate a genuine drive to learn

With the performance system they designed, I can see they want to live #4. Nice job team. I think our performance appraisals are going make me happy.

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