People MATTER(S)Sunday, July 25, 2021
Welcome! Join us as we dive into the dynamic and crucial, yet often misunderstood and barely tolerated, world of Human Resources (HR).
IT'S July. We just passed the halfway point in the year and many of us are wading through mid-year reviews. This process is productive for some, fear-inducing and anxiety-provoking for others, and just plain frustrating for way too many.
Performance reviews have got a bad rap in so many organisations. Today, though, I'm not going to quote the book and give the grand speech on why they're so important, how best to conduct them, or all that lecture-y stuff.
Instead, let's think about it in a new way.
DIAMONDS IN THE ROUGH
Mr Slate owns a successful diamond processing company. Fred and Barney are both managers. Mr Slate has a meeting with them to talk about the difference in their numbers and the productivity of their teams.
Fred says, “Boss, those last couple batches of diamonds I got to work with were taking way too much time to process! I had targets and deadlines. I just didn't have time for all of that work, so we did enough to get something to you. I'm sure it'll do.”
Meanwhile, Barney says, “We did it boss. We got some rough stones, and it took way more time and effort than I expected. It was hard work, but we did it. Tiffany-worthy gems!”
Mr Slate says, “Fred, we're a processing company, that's what we do. We process to produce top tier diamonds. The quality of what you've produced is shoddy and looks like glass. Barney, great job as usual. You're earning top dollar again for the company.”
So Barney gets promoted to oversee the entire operation. And Fred? Well, he's back in training and now reports to Barney.
ROUGH DIAMOND OR FACETED GEM?
Diamond processing is an extremely difficult process that involves changing a rough stone into a faceted gem, and it requires, among other things, specialised knowledge and techniques.
To an amateur, an unrefined diamond looks like a dull piece of glass, but once its polished and faceted, it is transformed into the stunning, coveted gem we know and love.
Similarly, as people managers, we all have the responsibility to transform our team members from rough diamonds into faceted gems. Appraisals is one of the tools in our toolbox to help us do that.
How ludicrous is it that Fred would knowingly short circuit the process that produces the very thing that makes money for the company, thinking that a sub-standard second-best version could cut it?
How ludicrous is it that so many people managers aren't prepared to put the work into managing, leading and developing their company's most critical resource that they need to accomplish their mission?
I'M TALKING TO YOU TOO, DIAMOND
But this isn't only a management thing, because there are those on the other side of the appraisal desk who are known to resist and obstruct the process. You see, the feedback we as team members receive is usually the story that we've written throughout the year being re-told to us. What story are you writing this year at work?
No diamond starts out shiny. It requires work to uncover and refine it, and that's what feedback is, dear diamond-in-the-rough — it's your uncovering and refining process.
So stay teachable and open. Rewards and recognition, such as promotions and bonuses that are truly earned, are usually on the other side of work and a little discomfort, also known as growth.
A DIAMOND IS FOREVER
Performance reviews aren't meant to be used as beating sticks, gotcha tools, combat sessions or free money earners. Done right — with fairness, openness and consistency — it is one of the most valuable tools a company has in its arsenal for building and shaping its greatest asset.
If I were you, I'd start digging.
Talk more soon,
My name is Carolyn Bolt. HR happened upon me seven years ago, and there has been no turning back from this challenging, critical, very rewarding and often frustrating matter of people since then. Reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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