Martin has 20 years experience in Information Systems and Information Technology, has a PhD in Information Technology Management, and a master's degree in Information Systems Management. He is an adjunct professor of computer science and computer programming.
Appraisals & Performance Management
When you hear the words performance appraisal and performance management, do you consider them to be the same general concept? While this is a common perception among supervisors, it's a misconception; they are actually very different. Let's begin by defining each of them.
If you've worked for an organization for any length of time, you've most likely received a performance appraisal, which is also often called a performance review. This is usually a checklist with various markers that assess how well you are performing your job. It measures performance over a time frame. It does not have anything to do with employee development or how you are going to improve performance in the organization.
When appraising performance, the words ''measure,'' ''evaluate,'' and ''feedback'' are the keywords used. Supervisors often use performance appraisals as a way to make sure that employees are doing their job or meeting a set of criteria as set out by the organization. For example, the image on your screen is a sample of what an evaluation would look like:
Performance management, on the other hand, refers to the development of employees in an organization. It isn't a single concept, but rather it's a process and a system. The intent is to create a work environment where employees can succeed and perform their best.
If you're managing employees' performance, you are ensuring that their work is aligned with organizational goals. The words ''facilitate'' and ''encourage'' are keywords in performance management.
An appraisal reflects past performance. Performance management is about the future. Now that you have evaluated their performance via the appraisal or review, what are you going to do now? How can you convert the negatives into a positive for the employee so that they are more valuable to the organization?
Performance management goes beyond just the employee, however. It's an entire process in which you create a work environment that lets people perform at their best. Good performance management starts before the employee is ever hired and lasts through employment. Some key components of an effective performance management program include:
- Clear, concise, realistic job descriptions
- Negotiate terms and conditions of employment (which can include benefits, salary, etc.)
- Ongoing training and education
- Continuous feedback and coaching as needed
- Create a development plan and discuss and monitor it quarterly
- Offer opportunities for advancement, job shadowing, job sharing, or even lateral moves
Differences and Alignment
While this tells you if the employee is meeting organizational expectations, what does it really tell you about their development? The short answer is, well, nothing. We'll address this shortcoming momentarily, but let's talk briefly about performance management.
Appraisals and performance management are separate concepts, but as a supervisor, you can embrace each and use them together effectively. We'll first look at an example of appraisal, then an example of management, then we'll link the two.
For example, like we explained earlier, appraisal is backward-looking, while performance management is forward-looking. And linking the two, we used appraisal time to build plan for the future and have more frequent meetings. In addition, appraisals involve individual efforts, while performance management involves organizational efforts. And linking the two, the employee's appraisal can be directly linked or correlated to the collective goals of the office. Appraisals are objective assessments with ratings and rankings, while performance management doesn't involve any rankings or ratings. However, they can both be link subjectively through dialogue and qualitative elements. Appraisals aren't always connected to organizational goals, while performance management usually is connected. However, they can both be connected to organizational goals by tying the appraisal to strategy. Finally, appraisals are a very rigid process, while performance management is a very flexible process. To link the two, you can allow discussion to occur about the appraisal and meet more often with employees to connect past work with future performance growth.
You can use appraisals as part of a broader performance management program. This program is both process and system. Your organization should work to foster an environment where employees can succeed and bring their best. Their efforts should be aligned with organizational goals.
Your performance management program will benefit from appraisals, because they tell you the past. They rank progress on key indicators. But they don't always open the door for conversation, strategic planning, or more frequent reviews of employees' progress toward organizational and personal goals. Think of performance management as a system and process of growing and developing talent. Performance appraisals are quantitative measures of progress.
Let's review what we've learned. Many organizations treat performance appraisals and performance management the same. A performance appraisal, or performance review is an assessment of how an employee performed in the past, like a rank or review. Performance management is the ongoing process and a system that creates an environment where people perform their best. It involves both the employee and the organization working to meet strategic needs. Put simply, performance appraisals look to the past, while performance management looks to the future. Performance appraisals are quantitative analyses, while performance management has a more qualitative aspect. There methodologies and even very natures are quite different, but they can be integrated and incorporated with one another. For example, appraisals can be used as supplements with ongoing sit-down discussions about the employee's growth and development at the company.
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