Guest Commentary: Silence Is Not Feedback - The Dreaded Performance Review - aftermarketNews

Guest Commentary: Silence Is Not Feedback — The Dreaded Performance Review

Most employees desire to know truthfully how they measure up in the eyes of their leader or manager. It is a human trait to desire feedback with regard to any endeavor that we feel is important and life-changing.

There are certain events, experiences, meetings or requirements in life that we all dread. To name a few: going to your dentist for a root canal, attending a corporate budget review meeting, paying taxes, renewing your driver’s license and perhaps the most “fearful” of all, the annual employee performance appraisal meeting.

Reviewing and evaluating employees is, in most companies, a corporate requirement. In some cases, the review meetings take place just prior to the year-end holiday season, but why spoil an employee’s holiday by giving them a poor appraisal?

The business environment today is driven by strategic objectives, as well as metrics, which are monitored and reported on a quarterly basis. Sales/revenue performance, variances to budget must be explained, market share grow, ROI, expense control, profit, etc. are tracked very diligently.

However, it is quite interesting that when it comes to closely analyzing the job performance of employees, things become a little murky. This is a business discipline that I have been professionally involved in and studied for many years.

In the main, most employees desire to know truthfully how they measure up in the eyes of their leader or manager. It is a human trait to desire feedback with regard to any endeavor that we feel is important and life-changing.

In some cases, leaders feel that if an employee is reaching or exceeding their objectives, and meeting deadlines, that it is not necessary to spend (waste) time discussing job performance or career goals. This, of course, can create an interesting situation.

Since the employees receive little or no feedback, they can assume all is well. They may assume, "My leader does not care. I am being taken for granted, or perhaps there is a problem between my supervisor and me." Think of any relationship where you received little or no feedback. How did it impact your communication and trust level?

The key to any worthwhile, productive and positive employee performance appraisal process is the establishment of key personal business objectives that can be measured.

Use this acronym as your starting point: Specific Measurable Attainable Reach-strength goals Time goals.

When will the goal be completed? Once the goal setting process is implemented and understood, there is a solid foundation to begin evaluating employee performance. Either the goals were accomplished or not. Discuss with the employee why and how. It is important to note that goals should be mutually developed with the employee thus there is a buy-in! We all need challenges and targets in order to feel alive and excited about the day.

The subjective aspects of evaluating employee performance are that of human behavior. How does the employer act and behave, in order to reach their goals?

Do they run over other departments? Are they sensitive to building relationships with other members of the organization? Do they engender a sense of being a team player?

Human behavior can and is observed and can be measured.

The leaders’ expectations of the employee (associate) and their expectations of themselves are key factors in how they perform. Known as the "Pygmalion Effect,” the power of expectations cannot be overestimated in many cases. What you expect is what you get!

The Pygmalion Effect:

• Leaders have expectations of the employees that report to them.
• Leaders communicate their expectations consciously or unconsciously.
• Employees pick up on, or consciously or unconsciously read, these expectations.
• Employees perform in ways that are consistent (congruous) with the expectations they have picked up on!
• The way leaders treat their subordinates is subtly influenced by what they expect of them.

Question behind the question! How many of the employees in your organization clearly understand what is expected of them?

High expectations equal a higher level of performance. A low level of expectations equals a lower level of performance.

Indeed, feedback matters. The only way for employees to improve at what they do is for the leader they work for to provide candid, supportive, timely, performance feedback. In today’s automotive aftermarket, leaders have to evaluate what is changing, what is staying the same and what is no longer working. Feedback plays a key role in focusing the employee and the organization.

Silence is not feedback.

If a leader has ideas and information that will help improve performance, it is a sin not to share it.

The keys to effective and meaningful employee performance reviews are:

• Mutually establish employee performance goals, which support the corporate objectives and mission statement.
• Goals must be measurable and specific.
• Articulate expectations and appropriate behaviors that employees understand and buy-in on.
• Meet at least once a quarter with the employee to track performance, offer support or change goals due to business conditions.
• Do not treat employee reviews as a once a year event. They are an ongoing discipline.
• Do not relate feedback with paperwork.
• Feedback is one human talking to another, on a subject that is important to both of them.
• Feedback improves self-concept, self-esteem, and a willingness to succeed and contribute.

Remember silence is not feedback! Don’t let your employees guess how they are doing. Believe in your people and they will return the favor.

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