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How to Improve Morale at Your Office
Those annual evaluations!
The Definition of Insanity
"Doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result."
For years the standard wisdom in business has been to tie annual raises to annual employee evaluations. They are time-consuming for the managers. They are invariably discouraging for employees. And the bottom line is that most businesses can only give what pay increases they can afford out of their annual profits, if any, no matter how well an employee performs.
Somebody, somewhere, years ago came up with the idea that the best way to improve an employee's job performance was to identify a good incident, then identify a poor incident, and follow up with a good incident. What this theory did not take into consideration was the fact that a good employee will only hear the poor incident. The better the employee, the more insignificant the poor incident no doubt was. So the message to the employee who has done an excellent job over the past year is this: No matter how small the mistake, at the end of the year it will be dug up and put on your record so your manager can say they came up with something on which you need to improve. And this process is supposed to result in better performance?
Do they do more harm than good?
'The Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves'
A new trend is emerging.
It is the potty-training school of thought in modifying the behavior of employees. Simply catch them when they are doing something wrong. Direct them to the correct method. Leave them alone to do it. Voila!
It is the same conclusion emerging managers are coming to in the area of dress codes. Instead of punishing everyone for the inappropriate behavior of the few, deal with the few as problems arise.
The Kansas City Star recently dealt with the issue of annual employee reviews and came to the conclusion, "Abandoning forced rating systems puts terrific pressure on managers to give timely and effective feedback to their employees." Isn't that a good thing? Isn't that what a business has managers for?
It is not uncommon for upper management to instruct lower level managers to conduct annual reviews for the purpose of controlling pay raises. Not everyone can receive an increase, so they create a method for rating employees in order to avoid across the board raises. Some even have limits to what percent of any one department can receive an increase. In this scenario, no matter how good the group of employees, only some will get a raise. In the recent economy many businesses have gone through the process of evaluations knowing there was no money at all for any increases. Employees should be grateful to still have a job. Fair enough. But if that is the case, why put the people working for you through the process of being graded on their performance?
Social scientists have recently found that evaluations accomplish little more than spreading discontent among workers. Praise when praise is due and correction when necessary accomplishes more productivity than the dreaded annual review. I once worked for a huge organization that devoted one month a year, November, to evaluating all employees. This company also had the policy that only a percent of any department could receive a pay increase each year. It was without fail the most dreary month of year with a disproportional number of sick days taken and the lowest productivity compared to the other eleven months. Eventually the company abandoned the process.
Fail to Motivate.
You'd think more businesses would stop and ask themselves, "And we're doing this, why?"