The Performance Appraisal Process: A Better Way

Catherine selected ten persons for her feedback meeting, five managers and five direct reports representing the companys customer service, operations, marketing, finance, and sales departments.

The meeting began with Catherine stating her objective and ground rules. Everyone one in agreement, the meeting began with a brainstorming session. The topic: How can the performance management process be improved for timely participation and richer feedback?

Louise, the customer service manager, started off the brainstorming, I have too many people to appraise at one time, so the form needs to be simple and easy to fill out. There were several nods of agreement. Then Jose from operations expressed that, my job is repetitive and boring at times, so I never receive any detailed or quality feedback, its always just an appraisal with ratings and no comments. More nods of agreement. Collette, sales manager, popped up with the comment, My feedback comes from my clients, thats how I know I am doing a good job! Yeah but clients dont provide feedback to our performance appraisals, shouted Jose. Well they should said Jennifer from marketing, We certainly receive feedback from them, dont we?

As Catherine posted the comments and suggestions on a flipchart, she felt rather pleased with herself in arranging the meeting. She was getting excellent feedback, some she expected and some she never thought of until Collette made a suggestion. Why cant we have feedback to our performance from others that are impacted by our work? This time every head in the room was nodding in agreement. Collette continued, I have a friend that works for a major food company and she gets what is called a 360-degree feedback.

As soon as Catherine heard Collettes comment she audibly said, Of course! Catherine made a note to follow up and do some research on using 360-degree feedback in performance appraisals.

As the meeting progressed more great ideas surfaced. Louise suggested providing feedback more frequently than on a yearly basis. I have a high turnover in my department and I think if I were able to provide performance feedback more frequently it might decrease the turnover. Several of the other managers responded in unison, We dont want more work! I dont either, but this is a serious issue for my department that actually causes more work having to constantly interview and hire replacements. Catherine interjected saying, These are valid points and I will definitely look into how we can provide more frequent feedback without creating undo hardship for the manager.

The meeting came to an end and everyone left exhausted but feeling hopeful that the companys performance appraisal process could surely be improved. The feedback was even better than she expected and everyone seemed enthusiastic and supportive of revising the old performance appraisal process. Catherine had her work cut out for her and she was excited about it. Suddenly Catherine had an epiphany, I just experienced a form of 360-degree feedback!