Workplace Recognition and Incentive Programs

Performance vs. Motivation

Posted on December 22, 2009 by Carl Bonura in Uncategorized

Performance appraisals may send messages of mistrust and suppress the human spirit. Instead of depending on the motivation of inspired people, they can reduce employees to quantitative numbers, de-motivating them. Their best efforts cannot be turned on and off like a machine!

While performance appraisals may be used to weed out the bad, they can actually hurt the organization. More than a dozen leading business authors, academics and consultants have condemned and discouraged the use of performance appraisals, including Peter Block, Philip Crosby, Steven Covey, and the late W. Edwards Deming. Covey calls performance reviews by management today as bloodletting. Instead, he urges managers to develop win-win agreements with their employees about performance issues. An unintended result of that suggestion is that some employers do use his proposal of the performance model, but not fully, preparing documentation on an employee’s personal traits, rather than encouraging performance on a personal level with the development of win-win agreements based on trust and communication with management.

Deming encourages all leaders to use spontaneous and unplanned and unhurried three-to four-hour conversations with all employees at least once a year, with the primary goal of listening. These talks would not take the form of criticism, or performance feedback, but emphasis would be on a broader view of the work and to help clarify understanding of what employees need to perform their duties at a high level and to communicate how an employee’s efforts impact the company’s goals.

Alternatives to performance appraisals include these ideas:

1. Give an employee choice in accepting obligation and responsibility so work remains meaningful and effective.

2. Less structure and control over the individual employees often leads to increased motivation and productivity. Employees cannot be motivated to achieve their best results, but the conditions of openness and trust is the intrinsic motivation that unleashes the mind and heart-felt commitment to the objectives of the organization.

3. Concentrating resources in those areas most impacting workforce engagement, organizations will continue to see the return on investment through decreased employee turnover, improved productivity, and increased customer loyalty & retention.

4. Companies can survive and grow only if they are free to develop systems where variation, differentiation and diversity are valued as ways to innovate and improve.