Category Archives: areas of improvement

Four Effective Ways to Make Performance Appraisal Easier for Everyone

One day, one of my supervisors came to my office and requested that one of his employees shall be reassigned due to poor performance in his office.  When I called the attention of the employee for his poor performance as verbally reported to me by his supervisor, he reacted: “Is he kidding, Madam?  He always gave me a “Very Satisfactory” performance rating every rating period.”

At the end of the rating period, the employee just simply copies his or her previous performance appraisal forms and submits them to the supervisor for confirmation and signature.

On the other hand, majority of the supervisors are not honest in rating their employees.  The supervisor gives a “Very Satisfactory” rating to the employee even if he or she doesn’t deserve it, as the supervisor is sick of getting arguments from his people when they didn’t get the rating they thought they deserve.

An appraisal is supposed to be informative for you and your employee.  It ought to inform him how he’s doing in relation to performance targets.  It is supposed to identify his strengths and the areas where he needs improvement.  Conducted correctly, it can help you get the performance you need.  But if you rate employees higher than they are worthy of, they begin to think they’re okay and might not be urged to do better.

Here are the four effective ways to make performance appraisal easier for you and your employee:

1.  Make sure to evaluate employees fairly.  Don’t play favoritism in rating employees.  Establish uniform performance standards as your guide.

2.  Stick to facts and shun evaluations of performance based on casual observations. Gather data and keep written records of performance of employees as basis of evaluation.

3.  Keep a better balance between praise  and criticism during your performance evaluation meeting. Commend the employee for the areas where he excels in performance and point out the areas where he needs improvement.

4.  Select one or two goals for the employee to work toward instead of trying to change everything overnight. For the areas where he needs improvement, set two goals for him to achieve for him to improve his performance.

I know you also have your own list in mind and I am glad if you could share it with us by leaving your comments below this post.

Your friend,

Nimia Acebes

How to Make your Workspace as a Source of Inspiration

I have just read one of the popular posts of Bob Bessette titled “Cubicle Bliss: 10 Steps to create an inspiring workspace” at his website at http://totallyuniquelife.com or you may also reach it by visiting www.bobbessette.com.  I like the intelligent way he presented his steps.

He listed down these 10 steps to create an inspiring workspace:

1. Keep it clean!

2. Get a comfortable chair and keyboard.

3. Surround yourself with words to live by.

4. Quotes, quotes, and more quotes.

5. Display your weekly tasks prominently.

6. Display your yearly goals prominently.

7. Buy some cool stuff for the cubicle.

8. A pic says a thousand words.

9. Collect artifacts and display them.

10. Soothing Sounds.

I agree with his steps but step number 2 depends upon the availability of funds in the office where you are connected.  For the pictures,  place them in a folder in your laptop, or in a photo album or in a scrapbook.  For ease of performance,  keep decorative objects and  personal mementos in a spot where they won’t get in your way or distract you.

It is important that you make your workplace an inspiring and livable one because you spend more of your waking hours at the office than at home.  Another step that I could add is color coding in the office, including files.  It is a remarkable innovation because it makes the work area bright and a cheerful place to work in.

I know you also have your own list of steps and I will be very glad if you could share it with everyone by leaving your comments below this article.

Your friend,

Nimia Acebes

Four Useful Tips in Searching for the Vital Things during Personal Inspections

As an executive, you must know what to look for during your inspections to offices, plants or operations area.  Since you are possibly going to be there only for a few days or hours, you can’t hope to learn everything and see everything that could be seen.

As a smart inspector, you will meddle into the operations more promptly to find the things swept under the rug.   Here are the four useful tips in searching for the vital things   during personal inspections, using them as signs of things unseen:

1. Determine if the people who are supposed to know have the answers.

Most of the time, the Operations Chief or the one in-charge of the area escorts you during your inspection tour.  The tour can also be the chance for a quiet but systematic quiz of the local boss, using items and events as they occur to provoke answers.  Ask the local boss questions to check if he is on top of the job.

An executive is asking questions to in-charge of office inspected.
An executive is asking questions to in-charge of office inspected.

2.  Determine if the easily controllable things are under control.

Each operation or job has certain parts which are easily controlled by the manager who is abreast of things.  Except for some circumstances, housekeeping and carelessness are evidences of lack of discipline and control over the actions of employees.  At this point, you can begin to turn attention to the management of the place.

3.  Determine if the surface is the representative of what lies beneath.

Explore beneath the surface, in one or two instances, to discover any evidence of “glossing over” of poor conditions.

4.  Determine if the inspection check out with other facts.

Before the inspection tour, it’s a wise plan to get some basic facts about the place.  Some of the figures might include employee relations, morale, expenditures, revenue, complaints and so on.  If an item is showing up very good or very bad in these figures, this is a hint as to where to look during your inspection trip.

These are my tips and I know there are still many others in your list.  I invite you to share your list with everyone by leaving your comments below this post.

Your friend,

Nimia Acebes

Four Attributes of an Effective Performance Management System in the Workplace

The year is about to end and it’s time for the preparation of documents for the performance appraisal of each employee for the current year and for each employee’s performance targets  for the ensuing year.

The Human Resources Glossary defines performance management as the process of creating a work environment or setting in which people are enabled to perform to the best of their abilities.

Likewise, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management defines performance management as the systematic process by which an agency involves its employees, as individuals and members of a group, in improving organizational effectiveness in the accomplishment of agency mission and goals.

These two definitions are geared towards the attainment of company goals and targets through partnership with the employees.   As managers and leaders, you are encouraged to have an effective performance management system to meet this challenge.

Here are the four attributes of an effective performance management system in the workplace:

1.  Use of Simple Formats.

Not all managers like performance appraisals.  This activity requires a little extra work and competes for their attention to the many other business demands and concerns.  They do not want to waste time interpreting difficult formats.  Simple formats give them more time to discuss work activities of each employee.

2.  Meeting with the Employee at least Once every Two Months or even more Frequently.

Frequent meetings with the employees will enable us to assist them in addressing their performance concerns and needs in order to improve their performance.

In the book, First, Break All the Rules, Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman says: “If you meet only once or twice a year, you are forced to drop your criticisms on the employee all at once, like a bomb.  When the employee inevitably recoils, you then have to dredge your memory for examples to support your argument.  But by meeting frequently, you can avoid this battle of wills.  You can introduce areas of poor performance little by little over time, and each time you raise the subject, you can refer to recent, vivid examples.  Your criticisms will be easier to swallow and the conversation more productive.”

A manager is conducting a performance meeting with her employees.
A manager is conducting a performance meeting with her employees.

3.  It is Centered on what the Employee can Achieve in the next six months  or one year.

Although, you assess the past performance in the first few minutes of the meeting, the rest is dedicated to what the employee could be or could do in the next months.

4.  The Employee is asked to Record his or her Accomplishments and the Lessons Learned

This will make the employee feel that his or her work is important to the company.  The employee shall record his or her goals, accomplishments, lessons and skills learned and breakthroughs.  This makes the employee responsible and accountable to his or her own performance.

This record will enable you to identify which area in the employee’s performance needs improvement.

If applied, these attributes will make performance management system in the company effective.

If you have more attributes to add, please do so by leaving your comments below this post.

Your friend,

Nimia Acebes

How to Know What Areas Need Improvement

Whenever I call the attention of  some of the supervisors or subordinates on lapses in their offices, they always respond that things or processes were already there or were already done that way when they reported in that office.

It seems that , for some of them, since things were done that way years ago, is a justification for not introducing any innovation.

According to Louise Heath Leber “There’s always room for improvement, you know-it’s the biggest room in the house.”

This reminds me of the concept of productivity which is: “One can do better today than yesterday and better tomorrow than today.”

When we assume a new office or reassigned to another office, we must always identify areas that need  improvement.  Even though how efficient our predecessor was, always remember that no one is perfect. Yes, there are always better ways of doing things.

Here are the guides on how to know what areas need improvement and if improved will give the greatest outcome to the organization:

1. Focus on costs.  Whatever your organization is, whether you are operating for profit or with a budget, like a government agency, the good result of initiating with a cost reduction is great.

This doesn’t mean that we eliminate necessary services, such as income-generating activity, in order to reduce costs.  It means producing more products and services for every amount that the organization spends.

You must analyze and act assertively on how the present operating expenses can produce more products and services or or how the same volume or products and services can be produced at lesser costs.

2. Is it causing delay? Determine what causes delay in processes or in operations.  The cause of the delay is a rich area for improvement.

3. Is it stealing too much of your time? Identify if an activity is taking much of your time and preventing you from doing more productive work. This activity is a good area for improvement for it is perhaps costing the organization more than it should.

4. Has it slided unnoticeably in the wrong direction? For example, when quality of customer service is no longer given attention because the company focuses on increasing quantity of orders.  This is another fine area for improvement.

5. Is it keeping up with the current world changes?  When an organization does not keep up with current trend in technology, it will lag far behind.

6. Is there no innovation in the job or process? If a job or process is done the same old way as it was many or even a few years ago, then it is ripe for improvement.

7. Strategic Goals Must Accompany Efficient Operations.  To provide for innovation and control, the organization must have a regular review of its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, the effect of the major trends to the organization, its missions and strategies.

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A Manager is conducting a goal-setting with his employees

8. Watch what is being produced, Not Just Costs.  A business is described as a three major elements: inputs, activities, outputs.  The best manager must see all these three elements always and determine which of the elements need improvement.

9. Conduct Performance Planning and Review. This must be done at least every six months to get commitment from the employees in the attainment of goals and targets during the planning session.

During the performance review, the supervisor and the subordinates shall identify which goals and targets are not well attained and what are the areas that need improvement for each of them.

10. External Conditions Affecting the Business. The business is part of the community  where it is located, so its improvement is affected by the regulations, service, general economic health, educational, roads and transportation systems and many other characteristics of the community.

The corporate image of the business in the community also influences its improvement activities.  I suggest that the business entity shall conduct a customer satisfaction survey and use the result as a tool to identify areas of improvement.

American Author and Speaker Anthony Robbins says: “Commit to CANI! Constant And Never-ending IMPROVEMENT”

Improve and make a difference!

Your friend,

Nimia S. Acebes