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Making Performance Appraisals Work

Last Updated on November 28, 2017 / Employee Relations

by Robin Throckmorton, MA, SPHR

Because I was able to attend the annual SHRM Conference in Las Vegas on June 25 – 28, I wanted to share with you some of what I learned from the presentation on “Making Performance Appraisals Work” presented by Dick Grote, President of Grote Consulting Group and author of Discipline Without Punishment.

In Mr. Grote’s opinion, there are basically four phases to performance management:

Phase 1: Performance Planning

Phase 2: Execution

Phase 3: Performance Assessment

Phase 4: Performance Review

The goal of all four phases is to help an organization obtain their mission, vision, and values. These four phases then become a yearly cycle that should include a mid-year review.

In Phase 1, Performance Plan, Mr. Grote discussed two components necessary to effective performance planning: core competencies and measurements. The core competencies are no more than 4 – 6 items that cover basically what the employee does. The measurement piece helps an employee answer “how they know that they have accomplished these items?” Generally, you have four measures for output: quality, quantity, cost, and timeliness. Mr. Grote cautioned us to not be so rigid that we don’t realize an accomplishment that isn’t clearly identified.

In Phase 2, Execution, the employee actually implements the plan identified in Phase 1 with the motivational support of his or her manager. At this point, Mr. Grote asked the participants to think about the job that they enjoyed the most (not necessarily related to their current job/career). Once we had identified that job, he then asked us to determine why it was the most enjoyable. As you can imagine, the answers were very broad but all had a similar theme – recognition, achievement, learning, the work itself, and growth. Not many said that it was job security, benefits, or salary.

Unfortunately, because of time, Mr. Grote’s presentation was cut short and he was unable to elaborate on the third and fourth phases. However, these remaining two phases are as critical to the cycle as the first two. In Phase 3, Performance Assessment, we always recommend that both the employee and the manager separately assess how the employee has performed relative to the goals set in Phase 1. This helps both the employee and manager identify strengths and developmental needs for the next performance plan. With this assessment complete, Phase 4, Performance Review, can begin. It is important for the manager and employee to both share how well the employee has performed. We recommend that the manager be honest about this feedback and document both positive and negative results.

As you can tell, this is a time consuming process but is very critical to the success of an organization. How can you expect your roses or daisies to help your company reach their mission, vision, and values without feedback on what they are doing right and wrong to meet those goals?

Robin Throckmorton, MA, SPHR, a Senior Human Resources Management Consultant is President of Strategic Human Resources, Inc. ( If you have any questions or wish to share your comments or success stories, you may contact Robin at