Improving Performance Management: 8 Factors to Consider

It’s not surprising that many organizations are continually updating and revising their performance management systems in an effort to achieve better results and improve fairness and accuracy. However, many of you who work in the public or private sector are most likely painfully aware that these efforts do not have the desired impact.We’ve identified eight of the most common changes and enhancements and why each may-or may not-add value.1. Web-Based SystemsWeb-based systems facilitate the collection of data which, in turn, facilitates cascading goals. It also provides a common framework for managers and employees and prompts for participating in the various components of performance management, thereby increasing consistency in application.A well-developed Web-based performance management system will help improve consistency of application across the organization, and it will likely enhance perceptions of fairness and accuracy. However, technology does not address manager skill or commitment to developing people; nor does it help clarify the link between pay and performance.2. Rating ScalesOne of the most common changes organizations make to their performance management systems centers on the rating scale used to evaluate performance.If you are using a scale as part of your appraisal process (either numeric or descriptive), make sure each rating point is clearly defined and managers have a common understanding of how to apply the scale to differentiate levels of performance. This is critical because it addresses consistency and enables managers to differentiate levels of performance.If the scale exceeds five points, be sure that the descriptors do, in fact, clearly capture distinctions in ratings. In our experience, clearly defined five-point scales (that include numbers and labels) are easiest for people to interpret and apply.3. Forced DistributionA forced distribution requires managers to evaluate a person’s performance relative to other people (rather than against clearly defined individual goals and performance expectations). This can negatively impact teamwork and collaboration if employees know that their performance is being “judged” against their peers.Furthermore, because it prevents managers who do not want to deliver “bad news” from inflating ratings, we believe a forced distribution is frequently used as a “work around” for managers who are unwilling or unable to address poor performance. The problem is that once poor performance has been addressed, a forced rating may result in an employee with acceptable performance receiving the lowest performance rating.4. Skill TrainingManager competence across all four elements of performance management-goal setting, coaching, development planning, and performance evaluation-is essential for the success of a performance management system. Without these fundamental skills in place, no form, rating scale, or technology will make the system work.Training increases consistency, which is one of the key drivers of people’s perceptions of fairness, accuracy and overall value to the business. Training in coaching and development planning also increases the likelihood that managers will provide feedback on performance and work with their direct reports to put development plans in place. This, in turn, has a positive impact on a direct report’s perception that the performance management system helps employees build their skills and competence.5. Periodic Performance ReviewsRequiring or encouraging managers to conduct periodic check-in meetings ties directly to perception that the system helps employees build their skills and competencies-a key driver of fairness, accuracy and overall value to the business.It also increases the likelihood that the annual performance review discussion will be a productive dialogue (versus a surprise). However, it is important to note that requiring periodic check-in meetings will only be successful if managers recognize the importance of these discussions, make time for them, and have the skills and tools to provide effective coaching and feedback.6. Multi-Rater FeedbackMulti-rater feedback appears to increase the likelihood that employees will see the overall performance evaluation process as fair and accurate. Although multi-rater feedback has a number of advantages, it will only be effective if it is introduced and integrated properly into the broader performance management system. It is critical that managers and employees have a shared understanding of the purpose of multi-rater feedback and how the data is used.7. Self-AssessmentsThe use of self-assessments is based on the belief that providing a vehicle for employees to give input into their evaluation, they are more likely to view the process as fair and accurate.However, simply introducing self-assessments will not have the desired impact. What makes the difference is the extent to which self-assessment data is actually integrated into the performance evaluation process. This requires skill on the part of the manager and cannot be accomplished by a form alone.Self-assessments are unlikely to make or break your performance management system; they may do more harm than good if they are perceived as another “task” and managers are not skilled in incorporating self-assessment data into the performance discussion.8. Monitoring the Quality of Performance EvaluationsHuman Resources can monitor the quality of completed performance evaluations in an effort to achieve greater consistency across the organization and ensure that assessments are backed with supportive evidence and examples.
Monitoring the quality of completed evaluations is generally a good practice.However, this time-consuming task will have little impact unless managers are held accountable for preparing effective reviews. In addition, monitoring is only useful when follow-up and coaching takes place with managers to confirm “what good looks like” and reinforce appropriate behaviors.Although any of these changes or enhancements can have a positive effect on the performance management process, caution is advised. Making frequent changes in an attempt to “get it right” undermines its credibility and frustrates managers. When it comes right down to it, we believe that it’s manager skill-not tweaks to forms, updating technology or revising rating scales-that determines whether a performance management system is used effectively.Managers must be competent in identifying and developing leaders to grow their teams. Using objective leadership assessment as a tool can give them a comprehensive, data-driven view of performance and a better understanding of where further coaching and development is needed.

Making Your Own Spa and Beauty Products

Spa and beauty treatments are wonderful for the body, soul and mind. In the stress filled world of today a visit to the spa can provide much needed relaxation. Unfortunately, it can also cost a small fortune for that day of pampering. In this economy who can afford such luxuries? Not to mention, trying to schedule the time amidst your other obligations. While there is no doubt that we all love professional pampering it is all to often just not possible to work it into our busy schedules and tight budgets. Although, there are easier alternatives that you may not have considered.You can create the same spa and beauty treatments at home for a fraction of the price you would pay at the spa. With just a few simple ingredients (most of which you may already have in your kitchen or bathroom) you can produce high quality luxurious spa and beauty recipes. You can use these treatments anytime you feel the need for pampering without scheduling appointments. Reliving stress is important for your body’s well being. So, if you could do it on your own time and save money why wouldn’t you?Creating spa products like bath salts, bombs, and scrubs can also be a great hobby. You can design wonderful gift baskets that will be truly enjoyed by friends and family for very little cost to you. You could even create and sell your own spa product line. These homemade designer products tend to sell very well and have high profit margins.It is easy to make your own spa and beauty products but there are some basics you will need to learn first. You will want to have a good understanding of essential oils and their effects and uses. You will also want to have a good understanding of the different bases that you might use in mixing recipes. Depending on how you intend to use your products you might also want to learn about packaging and labeling products for resale. Although, Once you learned the basics of using essential oils and other ingredients the possibilities are endless for making soaps, lotions, bubble baths, scrubs, lip gloss and much more.While the goal may be to make your own recipes it is best to start with proven recipes so that you can get the hang of mixing and measuring the ingredients correctly. The Nature’s Healing Essentials website would be a good start as it has a wealth of knowledge on essential oils and free beauty recipes to get you started.

Meta-Physician On Call – Making the Connection Between Mind, Body and Spirit

Our anatomy books are rather specific about the way our bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments are arranged, and same is true with our internal organs. Charting the specific connections between mind, body and spirit are a little trickier.Yes, neuroscientists and neuroradiologists have identified regions in the brain – via PET and SPECT scans — that are involved with mystical and meditative states of consciousness. But this ‘image” on the screen can barely represent the experience itself. Mind, body and spirit connect in a far more subtle but profound interplay. This is not the stuff you find in Grey’s Anatomy.. It is through our intuitive eye that we can perceive the truth of their inter-relationship.The reality of the notion of mind/body/spirit has become a part of our cultural lexicon and, in spiritual and health conscious circles, it is acknowledged as unquestionably true. But how many of us are truly living our lives as if there is a common connection between all aspects of our being? Our awareness of the “potential” for great health and a great life often runs up against the cold reality of day to day living. Many of us find it deeply challenging to ‘stay’ with that consciousness.What happens when you find that your bills are escalating and you don’t have the money to pay them? What happens when your boss insults you in front of others? How do you react to the unconscious driver, cell phone in hand, who just cut you off without even realizing it? How do you respond when your kid is flunking school or your parent is languishing in a nursing home? And how do you feel when you see images of starving babies, people’s whose lives are ravaged by poverty, crime , weather, earth changes or war?The list of things that could easily lead you to greet each day feeling weighed down by the enormity of existence could very possibly overshadow your knowledge, intuitive wisdom, experience and belief in the mind/body/spirit connection.Chaos has a way of making us forget that we have choices and I am certainly no exception. Despite what I consider to be my own significant awareness of the connection between all aspects of my being, there are days when I seem to forget it, or get thrown off balance by any number of chaotic, unconscious, unpleasant experiences. That’s why I believe that all of us need a prescription in place to always remind us that we are spiritual beings in “earth suits” not victims of circumstance or powerless over ‘dis-ease’.As a physician/healer I truly feel a responsibility to raise the awareness of those who enter my examining room and to educate them regarding the interaction of all three aspects of themselves. I regularly address how emotions play a role in their physical symptoms and complaints. I am open to discussing what’s going on in their lives, relationships, work, to help understand the stressors that are affecting them physically.But not everybody gets it. Some are annoyed because they just want me to fix them without their having to do anything. If they acknowledge the contribution of their own thoughts and feelings towards their physical complaints, then they must take an active role in their own healing. This requires effort, introspection, and work. Many are not prepared to do so or simply choose not to. As a physician I am able to offer them my knowledge and experience. As a healer, I can bring a more extensive protocol to the picture. But the ultimate power to heal resides within themselves. Not everyone is ready to own that. But those who are courageous enough to face their feelings and realize they have a choice about how they react will ultimately begin to heal themselves.Dr. Steve’s Prescriptions:1. Research and recognize the reality of the mind/body/spirit connection. It is the first step in permitting oneself to become whole, to heal.2. Observe how our emotional state produces physical symptoms.3. Accept life’s difficulties as a necessary part of our soul’s spiritual journey. What you resist, persists.4. Let other’s help – no one has to suffer alone – and be of help to others.5. Give yourself permission to truly tap into your own innate healing abilities by finding your personal path to wellness.6. Acknowledge that we are all responsible for our own health and allow the mind/body/spirit connection to truly thrive in your life.© Steven E. Hodes, M.D