About Me

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Fishers, Indiana, United States
Brenda gained career expertise as a human resources leader at a global company before becoming an HR consultant. Her functional experience includes a variety of sales roles in the health care industry achieving success for over 30 years. She is currently in Consulting & Analytics Business Development for a health care firm. Her passion is participating in, writing about and observing the evolving workforce. For the first time in history four generations work together. It keeps things interesting. Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964) are redefining retirement and what it means to age in the workforce. It is not just about money. Okay it plays a role! At 76.4 million members strong, Boomers are leveraging technology to continue their careers and the personal fulfillment working brings. Managing a late-stage career requires a strategy. There is no roadmap or one size fits all answer. This blog is about sharing, networking & finding your own right answer to working later, managing your career, redefining retirement, looking for work in your 50s & 60s and reinventing yourself.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Why Performance Appraisals Happen in Winter

2013 produced a tough winter both from a weather perspective and personally. Indianapolis’ Chamber of Commerce did not order “Super Bowl weather” since we didn’t host this year and it was windy, icy, cold and snowy for more months than usual.  Enduring an atypical winter, always begs the question about relocating to Indianapolis from Scottsdale. What was I thinking?
On a personal note, two close friends and an acquaintance died in February. For most people this would immediately create somber thoughts about mortality and your personal legacy. My thoughts turned to more first world crisis (in no particular order).
·         If I buy Tumi luggage at an outlet or on eBay instead of taking advantage of the March in-store sale, would the Tumi store still monogram my pieces?
·         My friends in California successfully lost their meno-pot belly flab with TRX Suspension Training. Is a flat belly over 50 possible for everyone? Since I found suspension training in Indy; should I drive further than my gym and pay more money to try?  
·         Can I use my blog to score a press pass for the next Ted Talk?
I’m not proud that my thoughts are often not deep or profound, and in the spirit of full transparency none of these brands pay me to mention them on this post or anywhere on this site. Just as I was sighing the Tumi sale was the only way to guarantee authentic merchandise; my friend Jane* called in tears. (Her name is changed, but she knows who she is and I know she’s reading)
Jane had her first performance appraisal from a new boss who joined their company in November. His appraisal of her work was scathing; it was the lowest rating she received in years and in this fragile recovering economy, 52-year-old Jane was afraid of losing her job. Her merit increase was an insignificant 1.8%. Jane also reminded me that I have not written a blog post in over a month, missed commenting on the Yahoo working from home brouhaha; Sheryl Sandberg’s new book, Lean In or issuing my annual rant about the Best Places to Work list in Fortune. Apologies to all.
Performance appraisal time is a stressful for managers and employees. In the best situations; your PA should not be a surprise. If you and your boss are touching base quarterly on your performance vs. their expectations—the year-end appraisal is basically a recap. Generally, if the former manager is currently with the organization, they will write the appraisal and the new manager may write comments about what (s) he has observed. This is particularly true when the new boss only spent six weeks in the period they are appraising. In Jane’s case her former manager was demoted and moved to a new department when new leadership took over in spring 2012. The new boss is someone new management brought in from their former company. Jane was so visibly upset at the review she asked her new boss for time to review the appraisal at home and create a response before she signed it.
I’ll share my thoughts and advice to Jane over the telephone and look forward to your comments about performance appraisals and how you handle them.
#1: Recognize that the performance appraisal is just one more sign, your workplace is changing. New senior management, new mid-level managers with different expectations, your former boss shoved into a broom closet without any direct reports. The critical questions become:
(a) can anything you do be valued or is the new manager there to “clean house”?
(b) do you want to stay with the company or are you ready to move on?
(c) how will you manage/survive this situation until you can get on the same page as the new boss,  transfer to a new department or find a new job if you choose to leave?
#2: You must sign the performance appraisal. Not signing the appraisal in many organizations is viewed as insubordination. Your signature is acknowledgement that you reviewed it with your supervisor NOT that you agree.
#3: Getting visibly emotional over the PA and asking to bring it home was probably not the best reaction Jane could have made and there is no “do-over” now. I suggested she salvage the situation by writing an objective, upbeat comment including her interest in collaborating more closely to insure her performance and his expectations are more closely aligned in the future and that she plans to meet with him quarterly to discuss her progress.
Performance appraisals have been part of my corporate life for 36 years, and it is one of the few areas of the work experience has not benefited from innovation. From giving PAs, receiving them, listening to employees rant about them, reading about PAs in HR exit surveys; watching PowerPoints from $200 p/hour consultants presenting their firm’s  solutions to connect performance management with business results and trying to make them better as an HR consultant; there are few areas in HR less contentious, except executive compensation.
My bottom line about performance appraisal and performance management is trust. To have an effective conversation about your perception of someone else’s performance or their understanding of what it is expected of them does not happen for an hour or ninety minutes once a year. You build trust with the people you work with and the people you work for every day. As a leader you give honest feedback, have tough conversations and just as important, you listen to employees. 


  1. Ohio Appraisal is the systematic evaluation of the performance of employees and to understand the abilities of a person for further growth and development. Ohio Appraisal is generally done in systematic ways which are as follows.

    The supervisors measure the pay of employees and compare it with targets and plans.
    The supervisor analyses the factors behind work performances of employees.
    The employers are in position to guide the employees for a better performance.

  2. Hi John,
    Thanks for sharing this. I was not aware of Ohio Appraisal. What has been your experience with the system? Is it more effective than the traditional programs out there? Also, I know a few organizations have had success separating merit increases from the performance discussion. Your thoughts?

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