Can IT Managers Do A Good Job Of Performance Appraisals?

by drjim on February 17, 2011

How Should IT Managers Grade Their Employees?

How Should IT Managers Grade Their Employees?

Performance appraisals are just about the worst part of an IT manager’s job. You don’t like doing them, your team doesn’t like receiving them. However, as per company policy it’s a required part of the job. Considering how critical they are, you would think that you would have received a great deal of training on how best to do them. I’m going to bet that this isn’t the case…

The Purpose Of The Appraisal

If managers hate doing them and IT employees hate receiving them, then why do we even bother with performance appraisals? Love ’em or hate ’em, the reason that performance appraisals are done is pretty simple – it’s the way the company is able to check to see how employees are doing in accomplishing their assigned goals.

More often than not, performance appraisals are done at least once a year. The reason that employees don’t like them is because they always seem to fall into one of two different camps. Either the employee is going to be told that they are doing a wonderful job and have exceeded all expectations (no new information there), or they are going to be told that they are not living up to expectations (and who wants to hear that?)

IT managers have never really enjoyed the performance appraisal process. There are two main reasons for this. The first is that nobody ever enjoys having to sit down with people that are part of your team and telling them that they are not doing a good job. The other reason is that just by their very nature, performance appraisals take a lot of time. There is the time that is required to get ready to do them, the time that it takes to meet with each employee and have a meaningful conversation, and then the post-meeting documentation that needs to be done. Who has that kind of time?

Why Performance Appraisals Are A Good Thing

From an IT manager’s point-of-view, a performance appraisal is a useful tool for identifying employee performance problems early on. They also serve as a reminder for both managers and employees as to just exactly what everyone should be working on – something that can be forgotten in the day-to-day process of doing work.

The reason that performance appraisals are a good thing is because ultimately an IT manager’s career success depends on what his / her people are able to accomplish. It’s how you manage these employees that will determine how far your career will go. This makes taking the time to do appraisals correctly well worth the effort.

Conducting appraisals should be seen as what it really is, an opportunity to communicate with employees. In addition to performance related issues, an appraisal give an IT manager the opportunity to discuss:

  • Goals: this is your opportunity to let your team members know what goals they should be working on and get feedback from them to confirm that they understand what needs to be done.
  • Feedback: : one of the side benefits of providing your staff with a frank evaluation of their performance is that it will almost always result in a boost in their workplace productivity.
  • Ranking: : not all employees are created equal. Going through a performance appraisal process allows you to evaluate each employee and make decisions on career related items such as pay, personal development, and potential promotions.
  • Legal Issues: : if a team member ends up eventually being fired, all manner of legal issues can quickly pop up. If you have a clearly documented set of performance reviews, then if a lawsuit requires it, the company will have your reviews to fall back on.

What All Of This Means For You

Performance appraisals have a long history of being disliked: IT managers don’t like doing them and IT employees don’t like receiving them. The reality is that they are both necessary and useful.

IT managers can use the reviews to ensure that they have clear communication with their team. Important tasks like clarifying goals that should be worked on, providing feedback, and creating a paper trail just in case there are legal issues in the future are all benefits of doing reviews well.

No, doing staff evaluations won’t help the company move forward any faster. However, it will help you develop your staff so that they can grow in both their current jobs and their careers. In the end, isn’t that what being an IT manager is all about?

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™

Question For You: How often do you think an IT manager should meet with the team to do a performance appraisal?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

On top of everything else that you have to do as an IT manager, there are those performance appraisals. You don’t want to do them, your staff doesn’t want to do them, and yet the company insists on everyone doing them. As long as you’ve got to sit down and evaluate the performance of each member of your staff, it sure seems like you may as well get the most out of it. I’m willing to bet that nobody ever told you how to do a performance appraisal the right way. Well, that’s all going to change now because I’m going to share 4 secrets to getting the most out of performance appraisals with your staff…

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