We have things that we want to say but this doesn't feel like the right time to mention it. You may not be happy with their performance but you don’t want to sit there arguing about it. There are so many things that have built up since your last appraisal you would probably need a few hours to get it all off your chest.
What do we get told by HR?... “If you don’t do it we will lose our accreditation!”… “Our staff will never be happy or engaged if you don’t sit down with them.”
Somehow all this doesn't feel right. You've done the appraisals year after year and nothing changes. Employees don’t get any happier. Morale doesn't improve. It doesn't improve performance like it’s supposed to.
The traditional approach to Appraisal Systems doesn't work!
Maybe you remember feeling much better when you heard the “You’re getting warmer” feedback and as a young person maybe even sulked a little when you heard “Cold.... cold.... colder” comments. I know I did. This is a completely natural response. Are we much different as adults? No we’re not. We would much rather receive a positive response from a colleague than a negative one. But with no feedback, or days, weeks, months before we receive feedback, we will never get any “warmer”, i.e. improve our current performance and reach our goals over a shorter timeframe.
This is why the traditional approach to developing people doesn’t work. Human’s need instant feedback to learn. Not just being told when things are going wrong... “You’re getting colder” “Still cold” “Cold”. This will just leave your team feeling deflated and completely lacking in motivation. People need to hear they are getting things right or improving too... “Warmer” “A lot warmer” “You’re boiling”. A happy workforce will not happen by accident. Your team will need to be given the positive feedback they deserve when performance is improving.
How can you make this happen? Every person in your organisation needs a coach if they are to learn. A coach that can provide people with instant feedback on performance, and whether they are moving towards or away from their desired goals. A coach does not necessarily need to be someone external. This should be your Leaders, Managers and Supervisors that develops the skills of a good coach.
A few simple steps I would recommend you can take to develop your people to improve operational performance would be:
1. Be a Learning Organisation – Accept this is the only way forward. People need to be guided towards reaching their full potential and given the opportunity to learn. ‘Do what you’ve always done, get what you’ve always got’. For people to change they need to learn new ways of thinking and behaving. Part of our learning will mean that sometimes we get things wrong. This is fine. Find a better way. It also means we need feedback when we’re getting things right. Take the time to catch people in your organisation doing things right.
2. Set Clear Goals – Be clear about the goals you would like people to achieve. Like the ‘Hot and Cold Game’. You need to be guided and coached towards the defined goal. If I don’t know where I’m going any road will get me there.
3. Improve Your Coaching Skills – Understand how people learn. Build the coaching skills of the leaders and managers of your workforce. Your management team need to be comfortable in providing feedback on a regular basis. Positive and negative feedback.
4. Provide Instant Feedback – Provide your team with instant feedback. Don’t wait. We learn from instant feedback. We learn from mistakes and from successes. Hot and Cold. People need feedback on whether they are moving towards or away from their goals. This not only applies to improving skills but also the performance of your business. The more frequent the feedback loops, the better opportunity for improvement.
5. Forget Appraisals – You are sending out the wrong signal to the whole organisation by having a traditional approach to developing people. Sitting down once per year will not improve anyone’s skills or performance. Forget the appraisals and provide instant feedback.
I assure you that these steps will transform your organisation within months. Your team will be far more engaged and relationships will flourish. If you need a little practise before you take it back to your organisation… play the ‘Hot and Cold Game’ with your family. It’s fun!... And it’s free!