The Essential Performance Review Handbook - A Review
"... these formal interactions between employees and their direct supervisors point out employee's strenghts and weeknesses, and include assessing the achievemnt of previous goals and setting new ones for the employee to work toward... Ideally the performance review is constructive, separate from discussion of compensation, and contains no surprises. It should reflect a series of discussions or mini-reviews that have been conducted throughout the year." (p 14)Unfortunately, that ideal perspective is more goal than reality; realistically, most employees would argue their experience with the review process differs. Most employees do not get regular and explicit feedback from their managers and, consequentially, feel blind-sided by their manager's assessments.
The fact is that most large firms hold dear the appraisal process -- for fear of litigation by its employees from suits of unfair treatment, termination, discrimination, or harassment. By preparing and confirming delivery of a performance review in writing, companies hide behind the process as their ability to document status of work and goals, areas of problems, areas of strengths. Whether the employee agrees or not, the company has its documented file... just in case.
Despite my cavil, Sharon Armstrong shares crucial guidance and pointers throughout the book:
● Fine overview of the employee's and manager's feelings towards this process. (p 15)
● Guides both a supervisor and employee as to why a good performance appraisal process can be important. (p 17)
● Exceptionally useful self-assessment tests, as most people who answer truthfully will find they are not where they expect themselves. (pp 18-19)
● Clever, relevant quotes begin each chapter.
● Forms section at book's end offers many appraisal samples.
Room for improvement:
● Armstrong relies on three idealized character types to illustrate issues and potential solutions. The characters are not typical. Most employees in the workplace are average; they have strengths and weaknesses that do not fit into these idealized situations. The author took the easy way to zoom in quickly and easily on crucial matters.
● Most of the information Armstrong provides or shares can be found on-line, and free.
● While the author provides insights as to legal issues of employment and touches on importance of performance reviews to protect a business against legal action by an employee, legal problems drive performance review process at most companies. (Chapter 8 - "Keep It Legal!")
The Essential Performance Review Handbook offers a balanced overview of the Human Resources performance appraisal and review process; as such, it is a good book for beginners to the performance process, for small business owners looking to develop a process, and for new managers. And an excellent primer for all employees, whether you are the supervisor who performs the reviews, or the employee subject to review. Recommended.
-- David M Gordon / The Deipnosophist