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Feeling a little naked?

Phyllis Ndlovu

In most, if not all organisations, performance management systems are introduced and enhanced in order to ensure continuous improvement and optimisation. Performance management systems are also one of the tools through which employees are acknowledged, incentivised and where applicable corrective measures put in place. This neatly outlined argument is of course perfect in theory. 

Why do things get a little colourful when it comes to implementation?

Appraisals would be fine if they were regular

Over the years of consulting big and small corporates, I have observed that there is a certain energy that accompanies performance management generally and performance appraisal seasons in particular. In organisations where colleagues give each other regular feedback and establish prompt corrective measures for things that have not gone well, appraisal time is just one of those run-of-the mill things, part of business processes if you will. 

It’s all about protocol

But in organisations where hierarchy is priced high and protocol is observed at all cost, then appraisal time is a massive source of angst. So, what am I saying? I’m saying that based on my observation, organisational culture is one of the biggest determinants of how effective performance appraisals are. 

How come some executives are averse to 360’s?

In addition to organisational culture, I think the way executives feel, particularly about 360 Degree appraisals, sets the tone for how seriously performance management is taken. In the recent past, I spoke to at least three executives about evaluations generally. They were mostly agreeable to in general, but had a marked aversion to 360 Degree evaluations. There seems to be something vulnerable about hearing feedback from juniors and peers that relegate 360 Degree assessments towards organisational extinction. 

Why do we feel undressed in reviews?

I guess when more than one source observes a distinct behaviour about an executive, it is likely that that behaviour is inherent in the executive. If that behaviour is experienced consistently negatively, then the executive is forced to find ways of minimizing or eliminating that behaviour in the workplace. I can imagine that hearing that kind of feedback leaves individuals rather undressed. This is less than ideal for individuals who pride themselves in being the authors and finishers of organisational performance.        

In the final analysis

In the long run, it is in the best interest of individuals and organisations to embrace the idea that performance appraisal discomfort is where learning actually lies. Most of the time reviews are never easy for anyone and therefore everyone is in this together. But the value after enduring the discomfort is priceless. Performance invariably improves, individuals grow and optimise. If such reviews/ appraisals take place regularly then pressure is minimised. Let us therefore start and continue regular performance engagement conversations.