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Carl Gerhardt

Business Sense & Sensibility

By Carl Gerhardt

About Carl

Carl Gerhardt is the chairman of Alliance Franchise Brands LLC, the parent company of Allegra Network LLC and Sign & Graphics Operations LCC, and a world leader in marketing, visual and graphics communications, linking more than 600 locations in the United States, Canada and United Kingdom. The company’s Marketing & Print Division, headquartered in Plymouth, MI, is comprised of Allegra, American Speedy Printing, Insty-Prints, Speedy Printing and Zippy Print brands of marketing, printing, mailing and Web services providers. Its Sign & Graphics Division, headquartered in Columbia, MD, is comprised of Image360, Signs By Tomorrow and Signs Now brands of sign and graphics communications providers.

Carl and his wife, Judy, owned and operated their own successful Allegra franchise for nearly 20 years before selling the $2.3 million operation in 2003. He is a PrintImage International/NAQP Honorary Lifetime Member and was inducted into NAPL’s prestigious Soderstrom Society in 2010 in recognition of his contribution to the industry.

 

Bosses Below Average at Performance Appraisals

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The boss often sets the poorest example when it comes to performance appraisals. Count me in that group.

All the HR experts tell us that performance feedback is one of the key elements of employee development and retention. Employees want to know how they are doing. Management wants to benchmark employee performance, but often delays doing appraisals until a performance problem surfaces—and then the appraisal can become mostly a critical review.

The first priority should be a review that is focused on the growth and development of the employee. If this is done regularly, certainly more often than once per year, the need for a “critical review” is lessened.

In my experience, the top person in the company is often the worst at following through when it comes to conducting appraisals. If he/she expects other line managers to conduct regular appraisals, the perception and attitude is often, “You don’t do it, so why should I?”

As a boss, I have to admit that I have always had a problem with conducting formal annual performance appraisals. In my experience, even the best managers often do a sorry job of giving honest feedback to employees—both good and bad. Too often, unless there is a problem with the employee, the supervisor simply gives a glowing—or at least good—appraisal and rarely will focus on things needed for the growth and development of the individual.

What’s the solution? I suggest the first step is to review the book “The One Minute Manager,” by Kenneth H. Blanchard. If supervisors (including “the boss”) practice periodic one-minute coaching sessions as described in the book, the annual performance appraisal becomes more of an exercise in documentation and confirmation.

We have all had bosses who may have been reasonably good in running their companies, but rarely gave us even a “one-minute” coaching moment.  Don’t be “that boss.” Set the example and conduct one-minute coaching moments throughout the year.

Then, have at least one annual meeting termed a “personal conference”—rather than “performance appraisal”—that focuses on the growth and development of the individual.
 

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