“Who should evaluate you?”
Just how well are you performing at your job? It used to be that if you wanted to know, you sat down with your boss and talked. Once or twice a year – at least in larger companies – you had a formal performance review where your boss said: “Here’s where you excel. Here’s where your performance needs improvement.” In smaller companies, it tended to be less formal.
Hopefully, the conversation wasn’t one sided. This was your chance to present your side of things as well. From that, raises and bonuses were determined, and you could develop a plan for what you wanted to work on in the coming year.
Now, it seems no one can agree on who should be evaluating your work performance or the best way to do it.
Many firms today use 360-degree feedback to evaluate workers, which gets everybody into the act. Your co-workers, employees, peers, boss – even your customers – can tell you what they think of you by filling out a lengthy form scoring you on a numerical scale and through confidential feedback.
Although the process has its supporters, there are a variety of complaints. “You can get completely different responses, with one person saying something you do is a strength and another saying it’ s a weakness. There’s no way to check it out further, so what do you believe?” one woman who works for a Cincinnati company says.
“Subordinates are afraid to provide real feedback for fear of retribution; they wonder if it really is confidential,” she adds.
People also judge the scoring differently. “On a scale of one to five, with five being the highest, one person may give a five, thinking that’s good and another person may think that only exceptional skills warrant a five. There’s no definition of what a five means.”
Now there is employee performance software. This latest technology allows managers “to analyze with cold, hard data just how effective their ranks are,” says an article in BusinessWeek. It not only helps them identify whom to lay off, it acts as “another tool in the emerging corporate star system, in which top players are lavished with rewards, while the middling make do with less.”
The software tracks productivity and logs personal calls and breaks that, for instance, a customer service representative takes. It can calculate customer complaint resolutions and sales. “The technology can keep track so that extra incentive dollars are eventually kicked directly into the paychecks of those whose digital records merit the boost,” says the article.
In the near term, the technology “is bound to make it easier for companies to single out the coasters – as well as identify who the above average really are,” says the article.
If you’re lucky, you still get to sit down and actually have a conversation with your supervisor. According to a recent survey conducted by OfficeTeam, 66% of executives polled said they schedule formal appraisals annually.
I sat in on one of those meetings between a boss and his employee recently. The boss expressed his feelings, opinions and perceptions. He said things like, “I feel you’ve made a lot of progress over the last year. I sense you’ve developed into a better worker and a better person.” He shared specific examples of where she had improved. The employee beamed.
He gave input on what he wanted her to work on for the next year. She listened, took notes and asked questions. Her boss responded.
Yes, it was subjective. It took an entire hour. And sometimes it’s just what two human beings need to have a productive working relationship. Something the fanciest technology in the world can’t provide.