Negotiating vs. Dictating Performance Goals

Modernizing performance reviews (and performance management at large) is the subject of a recent LinkedIn post by Robert Bacal, CEO at Bacal & Associates.

In his post, Bacal offers 10 ideas to update how organizations manage performance and appraisals, including: individualize expectations even for employees doing the same job; put to bed the myth of objectivity; and realize that the purpose of reviews is improvement.

Sound advice, for sure. But Bacal’s wisest counsel was his plea for managers to negotiate goals and objectives during reviews, not dictate them. “Employees know far more about their jobs than their supervisors,” he writes, “in addition to wanting to be more involved in steering the direction of their jobs. No longer does it make sense for goals and objectives to be dictated by the manager. When employees are active in determining what they need to do to contribute to the company, you’ll find higher levels of employee engagement and commitment.”

Some managers might have trouble swallowing the idea of “negotiating” goals and objectives—especially those tied to departmental and organizational targets. However, Bacal correctly points out that employees have a better, more intimate understanding of their roles and responsibilities than their managers. Smart managers put this knowledge to use in the process of managing performance effectively. If the word “negotiate” isn’t quite palatable, ask your managers to “collaborate” more with their teams regarding performance goals and objectives.

One item we take exception to is Bacal’s dismissal of ratings forms, which he flatly calls “terrible and demoralizing.” While that’s true of some ratings tools, not all are categorically terrible. Many organizations have found that modern performance management tools actually help them take a more disciplined approach to holding reviews and extracting real value from them.

For instance, with easy-to-use software in place, both managers and employees are more engaged in the review process, reviewers are more aware and respectful of timing and deadlines, reviews are completed faster, and the communication between reviewers and employees is often greatly improved.

http://reviewsnap.staging.wpengine.comIn one of our latest case studies, Roseann Rush, Vice President of HR and Risk at PrimeSource, describes how modernizing her company’s review system improved results across the board, including raising its completion rate for reviews from 65% to 89% … slashing its annual review period by more than 50% … and making significant improvements to its documentation and communication processes. You can read about PrimeSource’s experience here.

Bottom line, for many employers, updating their tools and systems goes hand-in-hand with modernizing their approach to performance management. Doing both together can lead to long-lasting, meaningful change.


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