What you stand for: Valuing your values during appraisals and performance reviews

One also often wonders if Appraisals are something that is driven by the organisation or by the manager appointed by the organisation

Never Grow Up
Published: 18, Aug 2017

Never Grow Up is an Employee Engagement and Employer Branding firm. It partners with Human Resource teams & Business Leaders across sectors to create an admirable work culture & a happy workplace thereby enabling companies to create a strong employer brand, keep employees engaged and making work life a lot more creative, balanced and full of dialogue. Using a tailor-made approach, the services provided by Never Grow Up ® result in a productive workforce with a positive impact on attrition and company bottom line. The company's mission is to bring out the inner child of every employee it works with by peeling off the layers and reaching the core of an organisation !

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Whenever its appraisal season, and whether you are an employee or an employer, chances are that at some point in your career you have wondered and sought to rethink and reimagine the performance management system employed in your organization. You’re not alone in this regard, and certainly not wrong. One also often wonders if Appraisals are something that is driven by the organisation or by the manager appointed by the organisation.

The Ideal Appraisal Structure. What’s that?
The most commonly employed performance reviews run the risk of being acutely subjective and often depend largely on varied subjective elements like the perception of the reviewer, memory (of primarily recent events) and personal opinions and even mandates that flow top down. Under these performance reviews, different reviewers are likely to view the same set of traits, events and actions differently and accordingly provide different feedback. And if you operate with a 360 degree appraisal model, chances are that your appraisal also depends on how receptive your boss is to the feedback you are giving back. Subsequently, the absence of a comprehensive, well-structured performance management system poses a doubt as to whether the feedback the employees do receive is truly constructive and more importantly, indicative of how it can be converted into desired performance.

Thus, the need to do away with the subjectivity in traditional performance reviews by providing them with a proper, fundamental structure that does the job of representing the priorities of the organization at large rather than those of the individual reviewer. Having said that, we must also consider the fact that since each organization functions under different priorities, there can be no one unified structure applied to govern performance review systems everywhere.

So, what exactly would constitute the ideal performance management structure?

Concerns and questions along similar lines have already been expressed and pondered over by organizations worldwide, and remarkably, they have found the answers to them in the simplest of places: their own company values.

The True ‘Value’ of a Workforce
In a world where competition is rife and functions end up running along similar lines, it is the core values of your organization that become your differentiator. The values that your organization stands for serve the purpose of not only becoming an essential element of your public identity but the very framework upon which your entire organization is built, structured and evolves. It is but a natural conclusion that your company’s values should readily serve as the ideal aforementioned structure needed to effectively analyze employee performance. After all, more than placing faith and standing for certain values, what matters most is how your organization succeeds in ‘living’ the promised values it believes in.

An organization lives its core values through the carrying out of regular processes and functions, the resolution of the daily dilemmas and the making of the important decisions by each and every one of its employees. A value-based appraisal system that upholds this belief by guiding and supporting the employees of an organization in the process of translating the organization’s values into everyday actions, decisions and behaviours, serves as the ideal performance management tool, resulting in a more unified workforce heading towards the same well-defined goals.

If you find that the idea has piqued your interest and you are considering transitioning from the traditional appraisal system at your organization to a values-based system, here are some things to keep in mind. As it goes with the most fulfilling of tasks, getting the most out of your transition to a values-based performance management system would require its own share of groundwork before it can be effectively implemented.

Firstly and most importantly, you must ensure that your organization has been successful in communicating each and every one of its core values to your employees. Certain companies define their values on the strict basis of the work ethic that their founders believed in, while others give a definition to their values as their work culture develops organically over time. Look around: Innovation is different for different people and so is something as generic as Integrity. Some seek to define their company values on the basis of who they have discovered themselves to be at present, while others define their values on who they wish to evolve into in the future. Whichever be the case what matters is that your employees are informed, reminded and encouraged to discover the unique set of values that form the foundation of your company.

However, it is not enough to merely outline and objectively communicate your company’s values to the employees. In order to understand how these values come into play at everyday work dealings, it is important to translate these values into relevant, specific behaviours. Since the different departments in your organization place their priorities on different values and skill sets, the expected work behaviours by each department as well. The process of translating a specific value into the expected work behaviours for a specific department, then, helps the reviewer easily identify key factors in the performance management process. When expected work behaviours are clearly outlined and understood in this manner, it also helps reviewers provide precise, effective and constructive feedback. Employees, in turn, are better able to grasp the process of how values convert into everyday decisions and actions.

Some of the best opportunities to demonstrate this process of how values convert into actions arise when the organization at large makes major successful and significant decisions. Recognizing people who made these decisions possible by displaying the desired values helps establish value role models, giving your people, aspirational idea of your organization’s value expectations in the way of work behaviours. Moreover, these substantial decisions could also remind employees of the indispensability of the company values by establishing them as the strategic compass that offers the necessary guidance to carry out all actions and decisions, no matter how big or small. All in all, the successes of major decisions provide the opportunity for values to shine and convert the theoretical individual values into real-time actions.

Lastly, integrating core company values into your performance reviews is also a move that could help your organization demarcate the desired work expectations and limitations. Bringing in the element of values – the very beliefs that form the foundation of your organization – into the appraisal process helps you as an employer lay the boundaries of acceptability within your company’s work culture and effectively define what is encouraged and accepted and conversely, what is not. Hence, rather than judging performances purely on the binary basis of reward or reprimand, or whether you believe the person in front to be a team player, performance reviews centered on a company’s core values that are laddered into specific behaviours seek to analyze where an employee’s performance is more likely to work.

Is this journey possible? Practical? Yes! A few tough calls and focus on seeking clarity and fairness is what is mission critical. That is the point where your values are really tested

 - By Asif Upadhye, Director, Never Grow Up ®

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