Start at The Top
You need to start by convincing the leaders in your senior management group that they need to be the role models for the organization. Having them on board is key to success. When they participate in the process, they will hold their direct reports accountable, as well, and the process will flow.
One year, when I was working with a company, the performance ratings were not coming into my compensation group as anticipated. I went and talked with a director in the company who told me he was waiting to get his own appraisal before he finalized the ones for his direct reports. I went and talked with a vice president and she also reported she was waiting until she had her discussion with the president to know where the bar of expectations was set. I had to talk with the president and inform him he was the cause of the log jam. His initial response was, “I hate doing appraisals!” Yet, by the end of our discussion, with me showing him the timeline for planned bonus and merit increases, both based upon performance, he agreed to have his done by the following Monday.
The story above would not have been necessary if it was clear from the start that the top of the organization had an expectation of 100 percent timely compliance and set that expectation ahead of time. When you incorporate clear goals and objectives into your performance program processes, you are measuring performance to well-communicated goals and less so the benchmark de jour.
The software tools are out there to help set reminders and abeyances so there is no surprise on the timing for reviews. I prefer focal reviews over anniversary reviews so you can make your messaging stronger across the organization. If you would like to read more of the pros and cons of focal versus anniversary reviews, read my blog on that subject, “Focal or Anniversary Performance Reviews: Which Is Better?”
Another approach uses peer pressure. Augment the message that timely and accurate appraisals must be done by letting senior management know that reports will be shared among them regarding the raw numbers and percentages of evaluations shared with human resources. Advanced knowledge that their organization’s compliance, or lack of it, will be publicly shared with their peers may be just enough to motivation to help them send a strong message throughout their chain of command.
Remind Them of The Intrinsic Good
As HR professionals, we ought to be able to persuade and influence leaders within our organization. Sometimes they may need a reminder of the intrinsic goodness of giving honest and constructive feedback. Even if there is no money in this year’s budget, letting folks know how they did, how they can improve, and what is expected of them in the next fiscal year benefits all.
Tie It to Business Necessity
Some organizations’ cash flow is tied to fulfilling government contracts. Many of them come with a host of rules and regulations and sometimes that includes compliance with appropriate human resources practices, i.e. having annual evaluations done for those working on those contracts. Who would want to be responsible for loosing government business because they were procrastinating fulfilling their duties?
Tie a Tangible Reward to The Process
Doing timely and accurate performance evaluations ought to be routine part of any supervisor’s responsibilities. Yet we know many, and we ourselves, if given the choice, might decide we’d prefer a trip to the dentist. Sometimes a little spiff or drawing for a prize can provide an incentive. For example, you could offer an iPad2 as a prize in a drawing, contingent upon turning in acceptable quality work. A supervisor could earn a ticket to go into the drawing for each day an appraisal was turned in early, prior to the deadline. So, if one supervisor had three evaluations to complete and turned all three in two days prior to the deadline, that supervisor would earn six tickets in the drawing.
Last Resort: Bring Out the Stick
The most common stick I am aware of is holding up a leader’s own pay increase until the required documentation is completed satisfactorily. In my beginning example, the new-to-the-organization president did a 180-degree turn around. Not only did he get his evaluations done in the next four days, he gave me a green light to communicate that any supervisor who did not write and communicate, in person, an evaluation to each and every subordinate, would have both their annual bonus and their merit increase held up until they complied.
Beverly N. Dance, MBA, SPHR-CA, CCP, CEBS
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