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OK, I get that its marketing. Almost anything to grab attention. Still, I was surprised to come across the following ad on Google search results from Halogen Software, a major company that sells automation software for performance reviews.
I am bemused at the idea that somehow, we can make performance appraisals "fun", and then it struck me that the ad is indicative of a completely confused set of priorities about doing performance reviews, and their place within a performance management system.
Fun, and making things simple are distractions, much like performance review forms. They talk away from our focus, and look at managing performance as a necessary evil that we have to dress up in fancy dress. We need to teach companies and managers that the payoffs can be phenomenal.
We don't look at making a visit to the lawyer more fun. Or having a prostate exam fun. Or many other things. We do those things and many others because there are strong reasons to INVEST in them. That's what we need to do with performance management.
There are literally hundreds of videos of angry customers posted on Youtube. Many of them have gone viral, garnering views in the hundreds of thousands, and it's also common for those videos to receive huge numbers of comments numbering in the thousands. Banal comments, perhaps, but comments none the less.
Who knows why. It's different from drivers slowing down when they see an accident, because with these videos, people have to seek them out, and then take the time to tell others how absolutely funny it is to see angry people do things that are threatening, abusive, and even violent.
Next time you tune in to an angry customer video, and want to congratulate the poster of the video, think of this.
In every angry situation you see, there is significant trauma experienced by the customer service representative, AND any other people; bystanders, present. If you've ever witnessed violence, or seen two people arguing where you think violence might occur, recall the feeling of adrenaline pumping through your systems, as the fight or flight response kicks in. Think about the stresses on the body, and the shaking of hands once the event is over, and you experience the aftereffects of the "adrenaline dump." Think about how you talked about the experience, and your horror and fear, even days after the event.
That's what those people in those "funny" videos experience, both the employees, and other customers at the establishment.
In my seminars helping staff deal with angry and abusive customers, I often ask how many attendees have experienced some form of physical assault, or unwanted physical contact. Typically, I'll get a minimum of forty percent of people having experienced those situations, and the trauma and feeling of lack of security that comes with these events.
Even when the contact is "minor", let's say a grabbing of an arm or shoulder, people report significant emotional reactions, stress, and even trauma.
It's not funny.andnbsp;
Who knows why people think it is. But think about how it feels like for the "victims", and for those present. It's no laughing matter. It's not entertaining. It's nasty.
Do you really want to be a person who revels in the misfortunes and pain of others?
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My quick guide to performance management,andnbsp;Making Performance Management and Appraisal VALUABLE: Walking The Path Together contains 86 tips on how to make performance management both effective and how to remove the sense of confrontation and feelings of discomfort.
It's virtually impossible to make a performance management system work across an organization unless it adds and is perceived as adding value to 1) the company, 2) executives and managers, and 3) employees. That's rule ONE.
2. Almost everything that constitutes good management is contained in effective performance management. The best way to be a great manager is to institute a proper means of managing performance! The rest all falls into place.
3. Make it clear to the employee that the forms need to be done but the really important part is the discussion between manager and employee.
4. A lot of anxiety can be eliminated if a) employees understand what process will be used for the performance review discussion, and b) that there will be no surprises during the review meeting.
5. 360 degree feedback is not a replacement for performance management and appraisals. Anonymity and lack of ability to discuss comments with originators makes the value of the feedback process questionable.
6. Technology has emerged as a way to ssstreamliness performance management and appraisals, but it makes it easy to forget that managing performance is about people. Software programs make it easier to do bad things more quickly. Don’t get sucked in to doing only what the software requires.
7. Most experts agree that it is inappropriate to use the results of 360-degree appraisals to determine promotions and pay levels because of a) inaccurate rating systems, and b) limitations of anonymous feedback. If you use 360-degree feedback consider it as a way to provide employees with information about their performance, but not to make any final determinations regarding quality of work.
8. Performance reviews work best when the discussion brings together both parties in a partnership to improve performance. Consider getting input from employees about how YOU can help them perform more effectively, or how they feel you are doing your job.
9. NEVER, ever stop doing performance management because an employee is at the top of his or her pay scale.. Remember, it’s about continuous performance improvement! Shouldn't everyone have a chance to get better regardless of pay scale or current performance level?
10. If you base pay raises on performance appraisal results you set up a situation where you and the employee are not perceived as “on the same side”, because there’s a lot at stake. In many companies you won’t have a choice, so it’s simply a reality that must be recognized. You will need to work extra hard at creating the perception that, salary aside, you are both on the same team.
11. The relationship you build with each employee is by far, the most powerful force in improving performance (or in making performance work). When you talk and act like a partner with the goal of helping the employee, you’ll be amazed at the positive effects this can have.
Stay tuned, we'll have more advice from the book soon.