Engagement: A New Lens on Performance Review

When this blog turns up in a Google search, what terms are people looking for most often? The answer: Performance review.

I've addressed this topic before (here and here). And these entries are among the most frequently visited posts on Here We Are. Now What?

So what else can I say?

As we start 2010, perhaps a new way of looking at performance review is in order, eh? In that spirit, let's use Engagement as our lens.

If a business leader hears about employee engagement and sees the potential in it to raise his organization's productivity and profitability, how would he link it to his annual performance management process? Here are four design elements to start with:

Commitment - Essentially, employee engagement comes down to commitment: How committed is the employee to the organization? Let's cut to the quick on this and say: Employee commitment is directly related to the degree of commitment they feel from the organization. So, if you want high performance from employees, demonstrate your commitment to them. This can take a variety of forms. In the context of performance review, one thing you can do is "turn the tables" and ask the employee for feedback. Ask: How are we doing? What can we do to provide you with better support this year? What are your goals that we can help you with?

Ownership - Some employees are already highly engaged. If you could "pop the lid" on their psyches and peer inside, what would you see? One of the things you'd notice is that they have the attitude of an owner. They take ownership of the things they do. They don't need much supervision. And they don't need your feedback either in most cases. In fact, they are their own toughest critics most of the time.

So how do you spread this ownership mentality to other employees? In a nutshell, there are two things you must do:

1) Expect it. Make it one of your expectations. Communicate it to your employees. Let them know that "taking ownership" is a key to success in your organization.

2) Demonstrate it to your employees by treating them like owners. Give them a real share in the risk and the reward.

Relationships - As Michael Lee Stallard has so eloquently taught us, engagement is about connectedness. In other words, the quality of the relationship, between the person and the organization, is a critical component in the engagement equation. And where does the relationship "rubber meet the road" in organizations? The Boss. As the saying goes: "People don't leave companies. They leave bosses." Selecting bosses is one of the most critical decisions that organizations make all the time, yet they flub it almost as often. The annual performance review process is a great time to zero in on the quality and effectiveness of your managers. In particular, their coaching and interpersonal skills, as well as their EQ.

Emotional Investment - As Judith Bardwick has taught us so clearly, employee engagement is about emotions and feelings. Indeed, "feelings are facts" just as vital to an organization as its numbers. But almost always ignored.

Look: If you want more engaged employees, you've got to pay attention to feelings. Feelings drive decisions. Including the decision to take ownership and give 110 percent to the organization. In the end, whether an employee engages, and gets fully in gear the way you'd like, is up to the employee. You can create the conditions and context in which they are likely to "feel like it." In terms of performance review, don't show me an appraisal form. Show me that you care.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, Jan 4, 2010


David Zinger said…
Well said Terrence. I do think that performance and engagement are cousins if not twins. You can lead an employee to performance but you can't make him or her engage.
Doug Shaw said…
Very interesting perspective Terrence, good article. Hope you don't mind but I've put up a note about this on my blog, keen to spread your good words.
Terrence Seamon said…
David and Doug,
Thank you both for stopping by and commenting.
David, I appreciate your kind words.
Doug, Thanks for spreading the words on your blog.
Best wishes for 2010!
Hi Terry,

Thanks for mentioning my passion for connection in your post. Wishing you all the very best in the year ahead.

Anonymous said…

I read this post two times.

I like it so much, please try to keep posting.

Let me introduce other material that may be good for our community.

Source: Employee appraisal form

Best regards

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