The employee performance appraisal is an often disliked management task that actually makes performance worse. In Volume 5 of Contractor Success Guide, an article by Wally Hauck explained why traditional performance appraisals are ineffective and often avoided, while also outlining an alternative.
According to Hauck, to make a performance appraisal work, one of the biggest challenges for any manager is to begin thinking differently about performance by embracing the Values and System Model. Setting the values behavior is one of the first steps in that transformation.
Company values and employee behaviors must be in alignment
Research shows that companies seeking to align their operating values and employee behaviors are the most successful, the most fun to work for, and have more loyal customers and employees. Clear values are also the foundation for an effective performance appraisal process.
Regardless of the status of your performance appraisal process, identifying, defining and communicating your organizational values is critical to achieve predictable long-term performance.
A value is a fundamental personal belief. Values provide guidance during difficult situations and allow you to make quick, yet smart decisions. An organization’s priorities are simply a reflection of its values.
There are three key steps to aligning your team with your values.
STEP 1: Three basic values of integrity, respect and customer focus
Dozens of organizations have successfully worked with these three values for the past decade or two. Not one has found the need to expand the list. Why? Because, these three values capture the essence of the important behaviors that people can personally control.
There are dozens of values an organization can decide to embrace. But attempting to embrace too many different values increases the complexity. The correct approach is to clearly define these three basic values first and then provide an opportunity for your people to ask questions, such as “What might be missing?” and “What might be a conflict in their personal lives?” With the proper questioning and listening skills, a leader can begin to help everyone see that these three values can be all-encompassing.
STEP 2: Clear and specific definitions of behavior
Organizations need clear descriptions of values behavior to avoid interpretation, wasted time and wasted resources. Here is an example of values behaviors for each of the three basic values listed in Step 1.
- Communicate openly, honestly and responsibly
- Make only agreements you intend to keep
- Act upon your agreements to the best of your ability
- When you can’t keep agreements, communicate with those who need to know
- Admit when a mistake is made and look at the system as a team for a solution
- Treat others as you would like to be treated
- Communicate directly, calmly and professionally
- Listen attentively and congruently without interruption, and paraphrase to confirm understanding
- Acknowledge the value of different perspectives, and demonstrate it by your actions
- Ask clarifying questions to be sure you understand what customers need
- Make suggestions and recommendations that may better suit their needs
- Always keep your customer informed (as defined by the customer)
- Acknowledge requests promptly (as defined by the customer)
- Anticipate customer “wants”
- Treat all customers with respect and integrity
- Continuously explore ways to make more “higher quality” agreements with customers (continuous improvement)
Get your team to review these and agree on one set of specific statements. Have them choose or create at least three or four descriptive statements for each of the three values. Your team can choose statements from the example, modify those listed or create its own statements.
Each statement needs to meet a certain standard criteria for success made up of four questions. Each statement must be answered with an emphatic “yes” to meet the standard: