Leadership Solutions from Read Solutions Group: Self Assessments & Performance Management

Friday, August 24, 2007

Self Assessments & Performance Management

Kris Dunn over at the HR Capitalist in What's That Smell? Self Assessments & Performance Management writes:

As an individual who recently revamped a performance management system from the old subjective system (everyone gets the same 80 items, rank on a scale of 1 to 5) to one driven by cascading goals driving individual objectives across the organization, I've had a lot of time to ponder things in the performance management space. One thing I have ran into is the value of allowing employees to evaluate themselves as part of the process (Self-Evaluations!!)....

Now, I don't want go all Dennis Miller and get off on a rant here, but the prospect of self-evaluations is more riddled with holes than the final season of the Sopranos.

Here's why I don't like Self Evaluations:

  1. There is always a gap between real and perceived performance, and the gap is always largest with your lowest performing employees.
  2. Self Assessments set up managers who struggle with performance management to fail unnecessarily.
  3. Self Assessments are often crutches for managers with poor writing skills.
  4. Most employees confuse behavior and performance that "meets" expectations as "exceeding" expectations.

Every system has pros and cons. Certainly the downsides listed for self assessments are valid. A self assessment should NEVER be the sole tool of the performance evaluation. Yet just as managers can be lazy about the writing, most of us are over influenced in evaluation of performance by recent events. The manager, who no doubt should take the time to track and discuss performance throughout the year, frequently only gets to it once a year. Should the employee then be penalized because the manager only deals with the issue infrequently?

I argue that the employee has the responsibility to write up their own performance review and offer it up to the manager. They have a greater vested interest in seeing that the performance period is looked at in total; that all of the performance criteria are considered. And besides, who has the most to learn from really thinking about the performance - the manager or the employee?

See my blog posting at Writing Your Own Performance Review for recommendations to the employee on this process.

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