Skip to main content

A Better Job Performance Review


A critical job performance evaluation can have a negative effect on any employee, according to research. By studying how people view positive or negative feedback a researcher has determined that nobody -- even people who are motivated to learn -- likes negative performance reviews. She is therefore developing ways to help managers improve the process for reviewing employees, and provides some pointers in her newly published article.

Suggested Reading
Click on image
Culbertson and collaborators at Eastern Kentucky University and Texas A&M University surveyed more than 200 staffers who had just completed performance reviews at a large southern university. The research appears in the Journal of Personnel Psychology.

The researchers first assessed employees' goal orientations:
  • Learning goal-oriented people like to learn for the sake of learning. They often pursue challenges despite setbacks.
  • Performance-prove goal-oriented people want to prove that they have competence to perform a job.
  • Performance-avoid goal-oriented people want to avoid looking foolish.
The researchers hypothesized that that the two types of performance-oriented people only would be satisfied with performance appraisals in which they received positive feedback because negative feedback would make them look bad. But the researchers thought that learning goal-oriented employees would be satisfied with an appraisal in which they received negative feedback because these individuals would see it as a learning opportunity.

"Surprisingly, we found that learning-oriented people were just as dissatisfied with an appraisal that had negative feedback as the performance-oriented people were," Culbertson said. "Nobody likes to get negative feedback -- even those individuals who aren't trying to prove anything to others, but instead are just trying to learn as much as possible."

The research shows that managers need to be careful when giving feedback to employees, Culbertson said. Performance appraisals can affect motivation, commitment and performance, which managers should keep in mind when evaluating employees.

"It is not so much that the performance review needs to be abolished, but we need to fix what is broken," Culbertson said. "Instead of limiting ourselves to formal performance appraisals conducted once or twice a year, we need to think about performance management as a system that is linked with the strategy of the entire organization."

Rather than making a performance review an annual event between a supervisor and employee, employers should consider making it an ongoing process.

"We can actually make the most out of the system," Culbertson said. "But if we are only going to have once-a-year evaluations, we shouldn't expect it to work."

Based on the research, Culbertson has several suggestions to help managers construct performance evaluations:
  • Focus on constructive feedback instead of negative feedback. While negative feedback focuses on what an employee is doing wrong, constructive feedback brings in elements for improvement.
"Negative feedback is not the same as constructive feedback," Culbertson said. "We should be careful that negative feedback is provided in a way that is more constructive because it can help people try to improve."
  • Be careful with number-based performance reviews. People view numbers differently, Culbertson said. For example, on an evaluation with a 1-to-5 scale, a manager might give an employee a 4 out of 5. The manager might see this as positive feedback, but an employee might see this as negative if he or she is striving for a 5 out of 5.
"This is where our words are really powerful," Culbertson said. "We want to make sure we are conveying to employees whether we are giving a good evaluation or describing something that needs to improve."
  • Avoid the "sandwich" approach.This approach occurs when managers provide positive feedback, then give negative feedback and finish with positive feedback.
"Sometimes the sandwich approach comes across as dishonest or not something that people will buy," Culbertson said.
*  *  *  *  *

Story Source: Materials provided by Kansas State University. Satoris S. Culbertson, Jaime B. Henning, Stephanie C. Payne. Performance Appraisal Satisfaction. Journal of Personnel Psychology, 2013

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Facts of the Small Business Survival Rate

Back thirty years ago when I first wrote about small business, a hoary and horrible statistic was bandied about, even by some of the most experienced entrepreneurial pros: "80% of new businesses fail in their first five years." 

This "statistic" has appeared in more places than you can imagine, from the leading small business magazines, books, presentations by employees of SBDCs, the SBA, SCORE, Chambers of Commerce, even professors on the college level - who should know better than to quote un-sourced numbers.  It still shows up in small-business blogs today.

For some years, I searched for a source of that statisitic.  Never found where that number came from, leading me to believe that some self-appointed expert made it up.  To quote a character from the popular television show, M*A*S*H, "Horsepucky." 

Here is the truth about the survival rate of new start up businesses in the U.S. economy from two unimpeachable sources, The Marion Ewing Kauffman Foundati…

Earn a Living Shining Shoes. . . Really

Earning a Living as a Bootblack
Can someone make a living shining shoes in today's economy?  At on time there shoe shine boys as they were called were found on street corners across the country, thousands of them.  Many were from poor families and worked to help support themselves and their families.  Today, I found three established shoe shine stands in downtown Seattle, plus two bootblacks, the traditional name of those who shine shoes, working on the streets of Seattle.

Meet George Johnson, age 74 on October 20th, a self-employed operator of a shoe shine stand in downtown Seattle's Rainier Place.  George has been shining shoes for the last sixty years, starting in Arkansas and ending up some thirty years ago at the Washington Athletic club a few blocks from his current location.
"Sixty years," I asked him the day we met.  "You ever think of retiring?"

"Gonna work until I can't do it no more," he replied.  "I don't even think about i…

Illegal Immigrants Start Legal L.L.C.'s, Create Jobs While Awaiting Deportation

The situation is a little like a story from the Twilight Zone.

Illegal immigrants can't get driving licenses, vote, or get benefits, but they are legally able to start Limited Liability Companies often creating jobs for legal U.S. Citizens.  All the while waiting to find out if they are going to be deported because they are, admittedly in most cases, in this country illegally.

It's long established that new immigrants to the U.S. are far more likely to start a business, and in so doing, create jobs often filled by U.S. citizens.  I mean, the sun rises in the East, the sky is blue, and immigrants create jobs - it's that level of certainty.

So why do certain elements in Congress,  allegedly pro-business, pro-growth, and pro-job, scream and yell about immigration as though it's a total drain on the economy?  If anything, immigration has been and will continue to be a boon to our economy, creating both wealth, new jobs and even new industries.

Here's an article from the L…