Mills: Placing an evaluation focus on managers

Performance reviews are generally described as management tools used to assess how well employees are doing in their jobs.

Typically expectations and specific goals have been set and agreed upon in advance and the performance review process is an opportunity to assess how well those have been achieved.

Performance benchmarks help managing supervisors to identify where an employee is doing well and also where he/she might need improvement. The intention is to support positive change.

Interestingly, the practice of reviewing performance is most often focused on managers evaluating their employees, and rarely the other way around. It’s an interesting issue that raises the question of who has power and influence in the workplace.

For instance, if a manager observes that a particular employee is a problem in the workplace they will likely document that employee’s behavioural and/or performance issues. Depending on the degree of trust and respect in their relationship, employees will feel threatened by that, or they may feel sincerely supported in their efforts to improve.

Turning that process around, what recourse do employees have if something in their manager’s performance is a problem?

What role can they play in helping them to improve “as a manager”?

Some organizations use 360 degree feedback processes to gather input from employees about the performance of their direct supervisor.

For those unfamiliar with 360 degree feedback tools, they are assessments designed to gather full circle input about a manager’s performance —combining evaluations from his/her direct supervisor, peers and also employees who report directly to him/her.

When used as intended, the 360 degree feedback process encourages employees to share their honest perspectives on their manager’s effectiveness. That still doesn’t mean the employees have the power to influence a change in their manager’s behaviour but it’s a step in the right direction.

Let’s face it, not all managers are gems. Many of them have no idea what their employees think of them or if they do, they just may not care.

And, if there are no consequences for their poor performance, why would they? This kind of dynamic leaves employees feeling frustrated and lose motivation; if the situation is bad enough they will leave.

We’ve heard many times that people quit their managers not their jobs. Losing talent this way is not good.

Ensuring that managers are skilled and competent in their roles is an organizational responsibility.

A key strategy is to build a workplace culture where employee feedback is encouraged and valued as a way to hold managers accountable for their performance.

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