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Performance, Learning

,
Leadership, & Knowledge
Communication &
Leadership

No one would talk much in society if they knew
how often they misunderstood others. - Johann
Wolfgang Von Goethe

Many of the problems that occur in a organization
are the direct result of people failing to
communicate. Faulty communication causes the
most problems. It leads to confusion and can cause
a good plan to fail. Communication is the exchange
and flow of information and ideas from one person
to another. It involves a sender transmitting an idea
to a receiver. Effective communication occurs only
if the receiver understands the exact information or
idea that the sender intended to transmit.

Studying the communication process is important
because you coach, coordinate, counsel, evaluate,
and supervise through this process. It is the chain
of understanding that integrates the members of an
organization from top to bottom, bottom to top, and
side to side.

The Communication
Process

Communication
That is what we try to do
Speak to those near us

o Thought: First, information exists in the mind of
the sender. This can be a concept, idea,
information, or feelings.
o Encoding: Next, a message is sent to a receiver
in words or other symbols.
o Decoding: lastly, the receiver translates the
words or symbols into a concept or information
that he or she can understand.

During the transmitting of the message, two
processes will be received by the receiver: content
and context. Content is the actual words or
symbols of the message which is known
asl a n g u a g e - the spoken and written words
combined into phrases that make grammatical and
semantic sense. We all use and interpret the
meanings of words differently, so even simple
messages can be misunderstood. And many words
have different meanings to confuse the issue even
more.

Context is the way the message is delivered and is
known as P a r a l a n g u a g e - it includes the tone of
voice, the look in the sender's eye's, body
language, hand gestures, and state of emotions
(anger, fear, uncertainty, confidence, etc.) that can
be detected. Although paralanguage or context
often causes messages to be misunderstood as we
believe what we see more than what we hear; they
are powerful communicators that help us to
understand each other. Indeed, we often trust the
accuracy of nonverbal behaviors more than verbal
behaviors.

Some leaders think they have communicated once
they told someone to do something, "I don't know
why it did not get done...I told Jim to it." More than
likely, Jim misunderstood the message. A message
has NOT been communicated unless it is
understood by the receiver (decoded). How do you
know it has been properly received? By two-way
communication or feedback. This feedback tells the
sender that the receiver understood the message,
its level of importance, and what must be done with
it. Communication is an exchange, not just a give,
as all parties must participate to complete the
information exchange.

Barriers to
Communication

Nothing is so simple that it cannot be
misunderstood. - Freeman Teague, Jr.

Anything that prevents understanding of the
message is a barrier to communication. Many
physical and psychological barriers exist:
o Culture, background, and bias - We allow our
past experiences to change the meaning of the
message. Our culture, background, and bias can
be good as they allow us use our past
experiences to understand something new, it is
when they change the meaning of the message
then they interfere with the communication
process.
o Noise - Equipment or environmental noise
impede clear communication. The sender and the
receiver must both be able to concentrate on the
messages being sent to each other.
o Ourselves - Focusing on ourselves, rather than
the other person can lead to confusion and
conflict. The "Me Generation" is out when it comes
to effective communication. Some of the factors
that cause this are defensiveness (we feel
someone is attacking us), superiority (we feel we
know more that the other), and ego (we feel we
are the center of the activity).
o Perception - If we feel the person is talking too
fast, not fluently, does not articulate clearly, etc.,
we may dismiss the person. Also our
preconceived attitudes affect our ability to listen.
We listen uncritically to persons of high status and
dismiss those of low status.
o Message - Distractions happen when we focus on
the facts rather than the idea. Our educational
institutions reinforce this with tests and questions.
Semantic distractions occur when a word is used
differently than you prefer. For example, the word
chairman instead of chairperson, may cause you
to focus on the word and not the message.
o Environmental - Bright lights, an attractive
person, unusual sights, or any other stimulus
provides a potential distraction.
o Smothering - We take it for granted that the
impulse to send useful information is automatic.
Not true! Too often we believe that certain
information has no value to others or they are
already aware of the facts.
o Stress - People do not see things the same way
when under stress. What we see and believe at a
given moment is influenced by our psychological
frames of references - our beliefs, values,
knowledge, experiences, and goals.

These barriers can be thought of as filters, that is,
the message leaves the sender, goes through the
above filters, and is then heard by the receiver.
These filters muffle the message. And the way to
overcome filters is through active listening and
feedback.

Active Listening

Hearing and listening are not the same thing.
Hearing is the act of perceiving sound. It is
involuntary and simply refers to the reception of
aural stimuli. Listening is a selective activity which
involves the reception and the interpretation of
aural stimuli. It involves decoding the sound into
meaning.

Listening is divided into two main categories:
passive and active. Passive listening is little more
that hearing. It occurs when the receiver or the
message has little motivation to listen carefully,
such as music, story telling, television, or being
polite.

People speak at 100 to 175 words per minute, but
they can listen intelligently at 600 to 800 words per
minute (WPM). Since only a part of our mind is
paying attention, it is easy to go into m i n d d r i f t -
thinking about other things while listening to
someone. The cure for this is a c t i v e l i s t e n i n g -
which involves listening with a purpose. It may be
to gain information, obtain directions, understand
others, solve problems, share interest, see how
another person feels, show support, etc. It requires
that the listener attends to the words and the
feelings of the sender for understanding. I t t a k e s
the same amount or more energy
t h a n s p e a k i n g . It requires the receiver to hear
the various messages, understand the meaning,
and then verify the meaning by offering feedback.
The following are a few traits of active listeners:

o Spends more time listening than talking.
o Do not finish the sentence of others.
o Do not answer questions with questions.
o Are aware of biases. We all have them...we need
to control them.
o Never daydreams or become preoccupied with
their own thoughts when others talk.
o Lets the other speaker talk. Does not dominate
the conversation.
o Plans responses after the other person has
finished speaking...NOT while they are speaking.
o Provides feedback, but does not interrupt
incessantly.
o Analyzes by looking at all the relevant factors and
asking open-ended questions. Walks the person
through your analysis (summarize).
o Keeps the conversation on what the speaker
says...NOT on what interests them.
o Takes brief notes. This forces them to concentrate
on what is being said.

Feedback

When you know something, say what you know.
When you don't know something, say that you
don't know. That is knowledge. - Kung Fu Tzu
(Confucius)

The purpose of feedback is to change and alter
messages so the intention of the original
communicator is understood by the second
communicator. It includes verbal and nonverbal
responses to another person's message.

Providing feedback is accomplished by
paraphrasing the words of the sender. Restate the
sender's feelings or ideas in your own words, rather
than repeating their words. Your words should be
saying, "This is what I understand your feelings to
be, am I correct?" It not only includes verbal
responses, but also nonverbal ones. Nodding your
head or squeezing their hand to show agreement,
dipping your eyebrows shows you don't quite
understand the meaning of their last phrase, or
sucking air in deeply and blowing it hard shows that
you are also exasperated with the situation.

Carl Roger listed five main categories of feedback.
They are listed in the order in which they occur
most frequently in daily conversations. Notice that
we make judgments more often than we try to
understand:

o Evaluative: Making a judgment about the worth,
goodness, or appropriateness of the other
person's statement.
o Interpretive: Paraphrasing - attempting to explain
what the other person's statement means.
o Supportive: Attempting to assist or bolster the
other communicator.
o Probing: Attempting to gain additional
information, continue the discussion, or clarify a
point.
o Understanding: Attempting to discover
completely what the other communicator means
by her statements.

Imagine how much better daily communications
would be if listeners tried to understand first, before
they tried to evaluate what someone is saying.

Nonverbal Behaviors
of Communication
Without knowing the force of words
it is impossible to know men." -
Confucius

To deliver the full impact of a
message, use nonverbal behaviors to
raise the channel of interpersonal
communication:

o Eye contact: This helps to regulate
the flow of communication. It
signals interest in others and
increases the speaker's credibility.
People who make eye contact
open the flow of communication
and convey interest, concern,
warmth, and credibility.
o Facial Expressions: Smiling is a
powerful cue that transmits
happiness, friendliness, warmth, and liking. So, if
you smile frequently you will be perceived as
more likable, friendly, warm and approachable.
Smiling is often contagious and people will react
favorably. They will be more comfortable around
you and will want to listen more.
o Gestures: If you fail to gesture while speaking
you may be perceived as boring and stiff. A lively
speaking style captures the listener's attention,
makes the conversation more interesting, and
facilitates understanding.
o Posture and body orientation: You
communicate numerous messages by the way
you talk and move. Standing erect and leaning
forward communicates to listeners that you are
approachable, receptive and friendly.
Interpersonal closeness results when you and the
listener face each other. Speaking with your back
turned or looking at the floor or ceiling should be
avoided as it communicates disinterest.
o Proximity: Cultural norms dictate a comfortable
distance for interaction with others. You should
look for signals of discomfort caused by invading
the other person's space. Some of these are:
rocking, leg swinging, tapping, and gaze aversion.
o Vocal: Speaking can signal nonverbal
communication when you include such vocal
elements as: tone, pitch, rhythm, timbre,
loudness, and inflection. For maximum teaching
effectiveness, learn to vary these six elements of
your voice. One of the major criticisms of many
speakers is that they speak in a monotone voice.
Listeners perceive this type of speaker as boring
and dull.

Speaking Hints

Speak comfortable words!" - William
Shakespeare

When speaking or trying to explain something, ask
the listeners if they are following you. Ensure the
receiver has a chance to comment or ask
questions. Try to put yourself in the other person's
shoes - Consider the feelings of the receiver. Be
clear about what you say. Look at the receiver.
Make sure your words match your tone and body
language (Nonverbal Behaviors). Vary your tone
and pace. Do not be vague, but on the other hand,
Do not complicate what you are saying with too
much detail. Do not ignore signs of confusion.
On Communication
Per Se (a few random
thoughts)

On Discussing
Communication

Trying to speak of something as messy as
communication in technical terms seems to be
another form of the "math and science"
argument, that is, math and science and
technology are the answer to all of our
problems. - Anonymous

But what forms of human behavior are not messy?
Learning is not "antiseptic," yet it is discussed all
the time -- we do not leave it to the academics,
Bloom, Knowles, Dugan, or Rossett. Leadership
and management topics seems to be even messier,
yet we categorize it, build models of it, index it,
chop it and slice it and dice it, build pyramids out of
it, and generally have a good time discussing it. But
when it comes to "communication," we call it too
messy to play with and leave it up to Chomsky,
Pinker, and others to write about so that we can
read about it. Yet we all communicate almost every
single day of our lives, which is much more than we
will ever do with learning or leadership.

Paul Ekman

In the mid 1960s, Paul Ekman studied emotions
and discovered six facial expressions that almost
everyone recognizes world-wide: happiness,
sadness, anger, fear, disgust, and surprise.
Although they were controversial at first, he was
booed off the stage when he first presented it to a
group of anthropologists and later called a fascist
and a racist, they are now widely accepted. One of
the controversies still lingering is the amount of
context needed to interpret them. For example, if
someone reports to me that they have this great
ideal that they would like to implement, and I say
that would be great, but I look on them with a frown,
is it possible that I could be thinking about
something else? The trouble with these extra
signals is that we do not always have the full
context. What if the person emailed me and I
replied great (while frowning). Would it evoke the
same response?

Emotions

Trust your instincts. Most emotions are difficult to
imitate. For example, when you are truly happy, the
muscles used for smiling are controlled by the
limbic system and others, which are not under
voluntary control. When you force a smile, a
different part of the brain is used -- the cerebral
cortex (under voluntary control), hence different
muscles are used. This is why a clerk, who might
not have any real interest in you, has a "fake" look
when he forces a smile.

Of course, some actors learn to control all of their
face muscles, while others draw on a past
emotional experience to produce the emotional
state they want. But this is not an easy trick to pull
off all the time. There is a good reason for this --
part of our emotions evolved to deal with other
people and our empathic nature. If these emotions
could easily be faked, they would do more harm
than good (Pinker, 1997).

So our emotions not only guide our decisions, they
can also communicated to others to help them in
their decisions -- of course their emotions will be
the ultimate guide, but the emotions they discover
in others becomes part of their knowledge base.

Mehrabian and the 7%-
38%-55% Myth

We often hear that the content of a message is
composed of:

o 55% of the content from the visual component
o 38% from the auditory component
o 7% from language

However, the above percentages only apply in a
very narrow context. A researcher named
Mehrabian was interested in where people get
information about a speaker's general attitude is
positive, neutral, or negative, towards the person
the speaker is addressing in situations where the
facial expression, the tone, and the words might be
sending conflicting signals.

Thus, he designed a couple of experiments. In one,
Mehrabian and Ferris (1967) researched the
interaction of speech, facial expressions, and tone.
Three different speakers were instructed to say
"maybe" with three different attitudes towards their
listener (positive, neutral, or negative). Next,
photographs of the faces of three female models
were taken as they attempted to convey the
emotions of like, neutrality, and dislike.

Test groups were then instructed to listen to the
various renditions of the word "maybe," with the
pictures of the models, and were asked to rate the
attitude of the speaker. Note that the emotion and
tone were often mixed, such as a facial expression
showing dislike, with the word "maybe" spoken in a
positive tone.

Significant effects of facial expression and tone
were found in that the study suggested that the
combined effect of simultaneous verbal, vocal and
facial attitude communications is a weighted sum of
their independent effects with the coefficients of
.07, .38, and .55, respectively.

Mehrabian and Ferris also wrote about a deep
limitation to their research: "These findings
regarding the relative contribution of the tonal
component of a verbal message can be safely
extended only to communication situations in which
no additional information about the communicator-
addressee relationship is available." Thus, what
can be concluded is that when people
communicate, listeners derive information about the
speaker's attitudes towards the listener from visual,
tonal, and verbal cues; yet the percentage derived
can vary greatly depending upon a number of other
factors, such as actions, context of the
communication, and how well they know that
person.

References

[Tags: communication emotions ]

Butler, Gillian, Ph.D. and Hope, Tony, M.D. (1996).
M a n a g i n g Yo u r M i n d . New York: Oxford
University Press.

Mehrabian, Albert and Morton Wiener, 1967,
"Decoding of inconsistent communications,"
Journal of Personality and Social
P s y c h o l o g y 6:109-114

Mehrabian, Albert and Susan R. Ferris, 1967,
"Inference of attitudes from nonverbal
communication in two channels," J o u r n a l o f
C o n s u l t i n g P s y c h o l o g y 31:248-252.

Pearson, J. (1983). I n t e r p e r s o n a l
C o m m u n i c a t i o n . Glenview, Illinois: Scott,
Foreman and Company.

Pinker, Steven (1997). H o w t h e M i n d W o r k s .
New York: W. W. Norton & Company.

Notes

Big Copyright 1997 by Donald Clark
Dog,
Created May 11, 1997. Last update - July 17, 2005.
Little
Dog

Motivation & Leadership

Men wanted for hazardous journey. Small wages, bitter cold,
long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe
return doubtful. Honor and recognition in case of success. -
Explorer Ernest Shackleston in a 1890 job ad for the first
Antarctic expedition.

A person's motivation is a combination of desire and energy directed
at achieving a goal. Influencing someone's motivation means getting
them to want to do what you know must be done. A person's
motivation depends upon two things:

o The strength of certain needs. For example, you are hungry, but
you must have a task completed by a nearing deadline. If you are
starving you will eat. If you are slightly hungry you will finish the task
at hand.
o The perception that taking a certain action will help satisfy those
needs. For example, you have two burning needs - The desire to
complete the task and the desire to go to lunch. Your perception of
how you view those two needs will determine which one takes priority.
If you believe that you could be fired for not completing the task, you
will probably put off lunch and complete the task. If you believe that
you will not get into trouble or perhaps finish the task in time, then you
will likely go to lunch.

People can be motivated by such forces as beliefs, values, interests,
fear, and worthy causes. Some of these forces are internal, such as
needs, interests, and beliefs. Others are external, such as danger, the
environment, or pressure from a loved one. There is no simple
formula for motivation -- you must keep a open viewpoint on human
nature. There is a complex array of forces steering the direction of
each person and these forces cannot always be seen or studied. In
addition, if the same forces are steering two different people, each
one may act differently. Knowing that each person may react to
different needs will guide your decisions and actions in certain
situations.

As a leader you have the power to influence motivation. The following
guidelines (U.S. Army Handbook, 1973) form a basic view of
motivation. They will help guide your decision making process:

Allow the needs of your team to coincide with the needs of your
organization. Nearly everyone is influenced by the needs for job
security, promotion, raises, and approval of their peers and/or leaders.
They are also influenced by internal forces such as values morals,
and ethics. Likewise, the organization needs good people in a wide
variety of jobs. Ensure that your team is trained, encouraged, and has
opportunities to advance. Also, ensure that the way you conduct
business has the same values, moral, and ethic principles that you
seek in others. If you conduct business in a dishonest manner, your
team will be dishonest to you, for that will be the kind of people that
you will attract.

Reward good behavior. Although a certificate, letter, or a thank you
may seem small and insignificant, they can be powerful motivators.
The reward should be specific and prompt. Do not say something
general, such as "for doing a good job," rather cite the specific action
that made you believe it was indeed a good job. In addition, help
those who are good. We all make mistakes or need help on an
occasion to achieve a particular goal.

Set the example. You must be the role model that you want others to
grow into.

Develop moral and esprit de corps. Moral is the mental, emotional,
and spiritual state of a person. Almost everything you do will have an
impact on your organization. You should always be aware how your
actions and decisions might affect it. Esprit de corps means team
spirit - it is defined as the spirit of the organization or collective body
(in French it literally means "spirit of the body"). It is the
consciousness of the organization that allows the people within it to
identify with and feel a part of. Is your workplace a place where
people cannot wait to get away from; or is it a place that people enjoy
spending a part of their lives?

Allow your team to be part of the
planning and problem solving
process. This helps with their
development and allows you to
coach them. Secondly, it motivates
them -- people who are part of the
decision making process become
the owners of it, thus it gives them a
personal interest in seeing the plan
succeed. thirdly, communication is
clearer as everyone has a better
understanding of what role they must play as part of the team. Next, it
creates an open trusting communication bond. They are no longer
just the doers for the organization -- they are now part of it! Finally,
recognition and appreciation from a respected leader are powerful
motivators.

Look out for your team. Although you do not have control over their
personal lives, you must show concern for them. Things that seem of
no importance to you might be extremely critical to them. You must be
able to empathize with them. This is from the German word,
e i n f u h l i n g , which means "to feel with", or the ability to perceive
another person's view of the world as though that view were your
own. The Sioux Indian Tribal Prayer reads, "Great Spirit, help us
never to judge another until we have walked for two weeks in his
moccasins." Also note that empathy differs from sympathy in that
sympathy connotes spontaneous emotion rather than a conscious,
reasoned response. Sympathizing with others may be less useful to
another person if we are limited by the strong feelings of the moment.

Keep them informed. Keeping the communication channel open
allows a person to have a sense of control over their lives.

Make their jobs challenging, exciting, and meaningful. Make each
feel like an individual in a great team...rather than a cog in a lifeless
machine. People need meaningful work, even if it is tiring and
unpleasant; they need to know that it is important and necessary for
the survival of the organization.

Counsel people who behave in a way that is counter to the
company's goals. All the guidelines before this took the positive
approach. But, sometimes this does not always work. You must let
people know when they are not performing to an acceptable standard.
By the same token, you must protect them when needed. For
example, if someone in your department is always late arriving for
work and it is causing disruptions, then you must take action. On the
other hand, if you have an extremely good department and once in a
while they are a few minutes late, then do the right thing...protect
them from the bureaucracy!

Counseling

Counseling has a powerful, long-term impact on people and the
effectiveness of the organization. Counseling is talking with a person
in a way that helps him or her solve a problem. It involves thinking,
implementing, knowing human nature, timing, sincerity, compassion,
and kindness. It involves much more that simply telling someone what
to do about a problem.

Leaders must demonstrate the following qualities in order to counsel
effectively.

o Respect for employees - This includes the belief that individuals are
responsible for their own actions and ideas. It includes an awareness
of a person's individuality by recognizing their unique values,
attributes, and skills. As you attempt to develop people with
counseling, you must refrain from projecting your own values onto
them.
o Self-Awareness - This quality is an understanding of yourself as a
leader. The more you are aware of your own values, needs, and
biases, the less likely you will be to project your feelings onto your
employees.
o Credibility - Believability is achieved through both honesty and
consistency between both the leader's statements and actions.
Credible leaders are straightforward with their subordinates and
behave in such a manner that earns the subordinates' respect and
trust.
o Empathy - or compassion entails understanding a subordinates
situation. Empathetic leaders will be better able to help subordinates
identify the situation and then develop a plan to improve it.

The reason for counseling is to help employees develop in order to
achieve organizational goals. At times, the counseling is directed by
policy, and at other times, leaders should choose to counsel to
develop employees. Regardless of the nature of the counseling,
leaders should demonstrate the qualities of an effective counselor
(respect, self-awareness, credibility, and empathy) and employ the
skills of good communication.

While the reason for counseling is to develop subordinates, leaders
often categorize counseling based on the topic of the session. Major
categories include performance counseling, problem counseling, and
individual growth counseling (development). While these categories
help leaders to organize and focus counseling sessions, they must
not be viewed as separate and distinct types of counseling. For
example a counseling session which mainly focuses on resolving a
problem may also have a great impact on improving job performance.
Another example is a counseling session that focuses on
performance may also include a discussion of opportunities for
growth. Regardless of the topic of the counseling session, you should
follow the same basic format to prepare for and conduct counseling.

Steps for counseling

1. Identify the problem. Ensure you get to the heart of the problem. The
Japanese use a practice called the Five Whys. They ask "why" five
times when confronted with a problem -- by the time the fifth why is
answered, they believe they have found the ultimate cause of the
problem.
2. Analyze the forces influencing the behavior. Determine which of these
forces you have control over and which of the forces the worker has
control over. Determine if the force has to be modified, eliminated, or
enforced.
3. Plan, coordinate, and organize the session. Determine the best time
to conduct the session so that you will not be interrupted or forced to
end too early.
4. Conduct the session using sincerity, compassion, and kindness. This
does not mean you cannot be firm or in control. Your reputation is on
the line...the problem must be solved so that your department can
continue with its mission. Likewise, you must hear the person out.
5. During the session, determine what the worker believes causes the
counter productive behavior and what will be required to change it.
Also, determine if your initial analysis is correct.
6. Try to maintain a sense of timing of when to use directive or
nondirective counseling (see below).
7. Using all the facts, make a decision and/or a plan of action to correct
the problem. If more counseling is needed, make a firm time and date
for the next session.
8. After the session and throughout a sufficient time period evaluate the
worker's progress to ensure the problem has indeed been solved.

There are two type of counseling - directive and nondirective. In
directive counseling, the counselor identifies the problem and tells the
counselee what to do about it. Nondirective counseling means the
counselee identifies the problem and determines the solution with the
help of the counselor. The counselor has to determine which of the
two, or some appropriate combination, to give for each situation. For
example, "Put that cigarette out now as this is a nonsmoking area," is
a form of directive counseling. While a form of nondirective
counseling would be, "So the reason you are not effective is that you
were up late last night. What are you going to do to ensure that this
does not effect your performance again?"

Hints for counseling sessions:

o Let the person know that the behavior is undesirable, not the person.
o Let the person know that you care about him or her as a person, but
that you expect more from them.
o Do not punish employees who are unable to perform a task. Punish
those who are able to perform the task but are unwilling or
unmotivated to succeed.
o Counseling sessions should be conducted in private immediately after
the undesirable behavior. Do not humiliate a person in front of others.
o Ensure that the employee understands exactly what behavior led to
the counseling or punishment.
o Do not hold a grudge. When it is over...it is over! Move on!

Performance Appraisals

The performance appraisal or evaluation is one of the most powerful
motivational tools available to a leader. It has three main objectives:

o To measure performance fairly and objectively against job
requirements. This allows effective workers to be rewarded for their
efforts and ineffective workers to be put on the line for poor
performance.
o To increase performance by identifying specific development goals.
"If you don't know where you are going, any road
w i l l t a k e y o u t h e r e " - Lewis Carrol. The appraisal allows the
worker to target specific areas for job growth...it should be a time to
plan for better performance on the job.
o To develop career goals so that the worker may keep pace with the
requirements of a fast paced organization. More and more, every job
in an organization becomes more demanding with new requirements.
Just because a worker is performing effectively in her job today, does
not mean she will be able to perform effectively tomorrow. She must
be allowed to grow with the job and the organization.

A lot of people consider giving performance appraisals as being quite
uncomfortable. However, it is not the judging of people that is really
uncomfortable, rather it is the judging of bad performance that is
uncomfortable. Thus, eliminate poor performance in the first place,
and performance appraisals become a lot more pleasant to give. Now
of course you are not going to eliminate poor performances
completely, however, with a little bit of planning they can be greatly
reduced.

Performance has often been described as "purposeful work" -- that is,
a job exists to achieve specific and defined results. And what bad
performers really do is perform "work activities" (busy work), rather
than activities that contributes to effective performance.

The first step in performance planning is to determine the results that
you want the performer to achieve. After all, workers generally want to
know what they need to do, how well you need them to do it, and how
well they are actually doing it (feedback).

In addition, a worker should not walk blindly into a performance
appraisal. Past counseling sessions, feedback, and one-on-ones
should give her a pretty clear understanding of what to expect from
the appraisal. If you blind-side her, you have not done your job as a
leader. Helping your team grow is not a once or twice yearly task, but
a full-time duty.

The appraisal should be a joint effort. No one knows the job better
than the person performing it. By turning the appraisal into a real
discussion, rather than a lecture, the leader may learn some insightful
information that could help boost his or her performance in the future.
Before the meeting, have the worker complete her own self-appraisal.
Although you might think they will take advantage of this by giving
themselves unearned high marks, studies have shown that most
workers rate themselves more critically than the leader would have.

Should Performance
Appraisals be Scrapped?
There has been some talk of completely doing away with
performance appraisals as they sometimes do more harm that they
cause. Yet performance appraisals are tools and like any other tool,
they can be used correctly or incorrectly. Part of the problem might be
with its name -- "Performance Appraisal", which has sort of a
judgmental sound to it; perhaps "Performance Planning and Review"
might be a better term for it.

Part-time employees at Trader Joe's are reviewed every three
months, which is an unusually frequent rate of evaluation (Speizer,
2004). In addition, the part-time employees of Trader Joe's are paid
higher wages, as are their full-time workers, than what you will find in
the normal grocery store (an average of $16 per hour vs $12).

What is interesting about all of this is that they have been bought
three times, and NOT because they are losing money -- they make
more money per square foot of business than the average grocery
store. The new leadership teams have never said that they need to
pay them what the rest of the industry pays. Why? Because they see
the value in their workers! Rather than giving lip-service to
"employees our are most valuable asset", they actually walk-the-talk.

Yet, one of the arguments for scrapping performance appraisals is
that ALL workers' pay should be aligned with the labor market -- they
do not deserve annual pay raises as it inflates the wage and salary
structure.

Traditionally, roles have remained the same while goals change
(Buchen, 2004). Yet, due to the rapid changes that occur on a day-to-
day basis, the roles are actually changing, even though they might
remained fixed on paper. Performance appraisals often fail to factor in
the changing relationships between goals and roles that are often in a
high state of metamorphosis. That is, our attention remains fixed on
steadfast goals, while ignoring ever-changing roles.

This type of thinking shows up in a lot of industries as they view their
workers' jobs as set roles, even though the world is rapidly changing.
For example, the 2004 grocery strike in California forced many
shoppers to look at alternatives, thus they started shopping at Traders
Joe's (who were not part of the strike). And many of these shoppers
never went back to their regular stores (who see their employees
playing traditional roles) because they enjoy the experience they have
at Trader Joe's. Yet Trader Joe's was not always like this -- it started
out more like a Seven-Eleven, but because of the competition it went
in search of its present niche and recognized along the way that its
employee's roles also needed to change. So even though they still
deal in the same commodity as the larger grocery stores -- food --
they not only changed the way they bought food (goal), but also in
they way they deliver that food to the customer (role).

Thus, the real argument is not really about scrapping PAs, but rather
ensuring that once goals are set, that all roles are properly accounted
for so that the target can indeed be met.

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