Tuning-Up Performance — Fiorenza

Many performance evaluation systems are doomed from the start. They are too complex, too esoteric, and they do not meaningfully reflect the employee’s work environment or other aspects of an organization’s culture. The best employee evaluation programs are those that have been developed after direct input from super-visors and managers—and sometimes the workforce as a whole. Most pre-packaged evaluation forms lull managers into a sense of complacency—that the evaluation is a “connect-the-dots” process.

Managers must be given tools that are tailored to their work environment. In the printing industry, at a minimum, a good evaluation program has to treat production, sales, supervisory and clerical areas distinctly. Usually, simpler is better and the shortest, easiest to complete form that analyzes critical performance criteria is the appropriate one for your group.

While the importance of training in all aspects of human resources management is now becoming commonly understood, performance appraisals are one critical area where training is an absolute must. Like any other tool, an evaluation program cannot achieve positive results unless people know how to use it. In fact, a lot of damage can be done if the program is used the wrong way.

Training is important to ensure that the positive communication and morale benefits of an evaluation system are maximized. Managers need an opportunity to learn the basic concepts of successful evaluation programs. They need to role play, or practice how to communicate in this difficult setting. In addition to the basic communication skills required, supervisors must also be trained as to the potential legal significance of performance evaluations and the documents created as part of the process.

Detailed Documentation

Performance evaluations are “Exhibit 1” in most cases of wrongful termination and employment discrimination. We commonly see situations where employees are fired for ongoing poor performance, while at the same time having recent performance appraisals ranking them, overall, as “satisfactory” employees.

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