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I Don’t Trust You

Posted by Chuck Csizmar | Posted in Articles, Universal Compensation | Posted on 19-05-2017

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amelia-cat-by-brownpauAn often heard complaint about an organization’s performance appraisal program is that the employees don’t trust their manager to conduct a fair assessment of performance.  That view is also the common response when asked why a company doesn’t use a PA or even Pay-For-Performance (P4P) program to recognize and reward employees.

Isn’t that a sad state of affairs?  I don’t trust you.  I don’t trust the management of my company.  What does that attitude say about your performance culture, or the state of morale or employee engagement when the workforce has such negative feelings for their leadership?  How many successful organizations out there have an employee workforce that doesn’t trust them?

On the other hand, should you simply throw out the baby with the bath water – stop conducting performance appraisals – and instead dole out general pay adjustments just for showing up for work?  Sort of like an attendance award.  Which essentially rejects the idea that individual employee performance levels do vary, and that variance is worth recognizing and rewarding.  Can you afford to treat “Super Joe” the same as “Joe Average?”

Or instead, if faced with this crisis of confidence should you take the more difficult road and make a serious effort to fix the core problem?  Perhaps you should train your managers in how to properly assess employee performance.  Perhaps you should hold them accountable.

Lack of trust can be an avoidable problem if you’re paying attention.

Where Managers Fail

The list below highlights the common concerns that employees are complaining about; where some managers fail to be objective.  Where they can distort performance ratings, one way or another, by committing judgment errors that are based on bias, sloppiness or simply not caring enough about the process.

  • Halo Effect: Generalizing ratings based on one positive achievement or strength.
  • Horn Effect: Generalizing ratings based on one negative experience or weakness.
  • Recency Effect: Rater emphasis on very recent event(s).
  • First Impressions Effect: Generalizing later ratings based on initial impression
  • Different Than Me: Giving lower ratings to those whose methods, interests, attitudes, etc. differ from yours.
  • Like Me: Giving higher ratings to those whose interests, attitudes, methods, etc. are similar to yours.
  • Central Tendency: Evaluating all ratees as average even when performance varies.
  • Carry-Over Effect: Rating during one rating period influenced by ratings from a different period.

Likely you’ve all seen or heard of these examples.  But when such abuses are left unchallenged by an organization’s leadership (all hail the status quo!) the natural result is that those on the receiving end grow to no longer trust the rater or the rating.  Or the process itself.

Did I say sloppiness?  When managers act as if they can’t be bothered by the performances appraisal process (too busy, better things to do, consider it a painful process, already know the answer, etc.), the resultant impact on your workforce will go beyond the ratings themselves.  How long before Joe Employee says, “They don’t care about me.  Why should I care about them?”

Is It Time To Kick Butt?

Small problems left unresolved will eventually morph into larger problems.  Ignoring a problem that is large enough that it can alienate your workforce, disrupt employee engagement, morale and ultimately productivity, turnover and your performance culture, that is a concern that you need to address – to root out at its core.  Or pay dearly for the consequences.

Managers who cannot/will not conduct proper performance appraisal reviews are not doing their job.  It should be considered as simple as that.  And if they are not performing such a key managerial responsibility then they should be held accountable for that lapse.  Their own performance ratings and subsequent rewards should be negatively impacted.  Repeated offenses should put their jobs at risk.

These people are poisoning your workforce.  That should not be allowed to continue.  But how often do you see a manager penalized for not properly managing their staff?  It does seem sometimes that senior leadership isn’t interested, or certainly not focused on negative employee attitudes and perceptions as a cause of concern.

Employees who don’t trust their management to treat them fairly will never deliver the kind of performance, the kind of drive that will bring the organization success.

I have a prediction for you.  The clamor to throw out PA programs will continue to grow and fester as long as an organization doesn’t address the core problem of delivering objective performance ratings for its employees.  As long as leadership turns a blind eye to how managers assess and rate employee performance those affected employees will continue to resent what they consider a flawed and unfair system.  And how motivated is a resentful employee?

You have to deal with bad managers if wish to retain/regain the trust of your employees.  You leave these bad apples alone at your peril, and the cost can ruin your organization.

“I don’t trust you” is a warning sign that the Wraith of Business Failure is knocking at your door.

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