26 Mar 2016

Scrap Annual Evaluations

Scrap Annual Evaluations

Anyone who has been on either side of the table during an annual performance evaluation must read this article.  I have to admit I have been on both sides of the table many times and can say with experience, the current model of performance evaluation is counter productive to moving an organization further.  Organizations must scrap annual evaluations and replace them with a continuous improvement growth model.

There were two events as superintendent of school I actually disliked.  One was making the decision to call a snow day.  The second, which really was the #1 annual ritual I disliked, was the annual performance evaluation event.

I didn’t always feel this way.  I guess the difference between past employer evaluations was the level of trust regarding intent of the process.  Arguably, the structure of a superintendent of schools being evaluated by 7 lay people, who have no formal training on the technical aspects of what a superintendent does, is never going to produce anything but a show and tell event.

The fundamental problem with show and tell evaluations is that they emphasize and support the growth of the evaluated being an event instead of a process.  Sound familiar:

  • The evaluated drafts their annual “goals”
  • Presents them to the evaluator with little to no review/discussion
  • No benchmark meetings or progress monitoring occurs
  • About a week before the summative evaluation date the evaluated hurriedly throws together documentation to prove achievement of annual performance targets
  • Annual performance evaluation meeting date arrives
  • The evaluated is responsible for reviewing and presenting evidence regarding the attainment of goals.
  • The evaluator and evaluated concluded the meeting and file the documentation.
The issue is typical evaluations are approached as an event and a not a process.  When it is an event it becomes a show and tell driven by the evaluated in hopes it meets the individual interests of the evaluators.  It rarely emphasizes the person beability to use data to make immediate changes and to progress monitor their actions.  The difference is the evaluated is also the evaluator.
Performance evaluations must be seen as a continuous improvement growth model where dates/achievements are not the measures of success but rather the collective growth, and ability to make the necessary adjustments for growth, are measured as successes.
I personally had too many evaluations that were disingenuous events.  I found them to be a waste of time for the highest paid employee in the organization to spend so much time preparing for a show and tell event.  Why I felt that way and what I would have preferred instead is so adequately outlined in the attached article.  Organizations must scrap annual evaluations and replace them with multiple progress monitoring conversations.


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