Tag Archives: performance appraisal

My most read business posts in 2014

dscf1285.jpgOnce again the techies at WordPress provide me with an annual report with lots if statistics. They remind me I posted a measly 47 posts last year, and some of them I re-blogged – so thank you bloggers who allowed me to do that.

My blog is now read in 111 countries but primarily in the USA, the UK, and Spain. But thank you those readers from Papua New Guinea,  Uzbekistan, Iceland, Moldova, Qatar, Guernsey, Luxemburg, Afghanistan, Macao, Tanzania and Krygystan among others. Truly an international readership.

The top ten posts were:

1st : Stress back on the agenda? This was 4th last year and in the top spot in 2012

2nd: Teams and Diversity not so simple which was in 5th spot last year

3rd: Women are the winners at work which was in top spot last year

4th: Saying thank you makes good business sense a jump from 16th place last year

5th: Leadership & Influencing and even bigger jump from 21st spot last year

6th: No-one wants to be rated as average This was 3rd last year and in 2nd spot in both 2011 & 2012 – obviously I struck a chord with it.

7th: Erotic Capital – boobs, botox and making the most of yourself a slight drop from 6th spot last year

8th: Rude, arrogant and powerful up from 11th spot last year

9th: Leaders without any shame jointly with Leadership capabilities necessary for a successful merger

10th: Women in Leadership – too nice? Too bossy?

For the second year my most-read posts have been from earlier years with only those in bottom three places from 2014. This probably reflects the paucity of my output in 2014. So must try harder!

My most read posts in 2013

My most read business posts in 2013

global_touch_connection_1600_wht_9905The techies at WordPress provide me with an annual report with lots if statistics. They remind me I posted a measly 45 posts last year, and many of them I re-blogged – so thank you bloggers who allowed me to do that.

They also told me that January 10th 2013 was my busiest day with a post about women at work.

My blog is read in 93 countries but primarily in the UK, the USA, and Spain.

The top five posts, in reverse order were:

5th: Teams and Diversity not so simple

4th: Stress back on the agenda? This was in top spot in 2012

3rd : No-one wants to be rated as average This was in 2nd spot in both 2011 & 2012

2nd: National Stress Awareness Day 2012 I didn’t write a post on NSAD last year but stress obviously still high on the agenda.

1st: Women are the winners at work

For the second year my most-read posts have been from earlier years which reflects the paucity of my output in 2013. So must try harder!

My most read posts in 2012

Management Books …..!

Kindadukish's Blog - I am not a number, I am a free man (The Prisoner)

I recently walked through the “business section” at Waterston’s Manchester branch and was simply staggered by the number of “expert” books on “leadership” “culture change” “emotional intelligence” and every other subject that you might consider to be directly or indirectly related to the effective running of organisations.


Similarly visit any bookshop at an airport and you will find it stacked high with “management” books…………surely you would have to be in a desperate state to want to start buying and even reading a management book on a flight.

Perhaps it is about the international businessmen feeling that they have to justify their business class seats by giving the impression that they are doing something business related.

But back to the books………….given that these books have been produced for over 50 years now one would think that they would have had a major impact upon organisational performance yet one has only to…

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My most-read business posts in 2012

P1000377It’s that time of year when the back office team at WordPress give me my feedback on which posts have been read the most.

Last year I only wrote 33 posts bringing the total up to 128 since I started the blog in 2010.

That’s far fewer than I planned (one a week) partly due to my micro-blogging ie twitter as well.

I also used a lot of photographs most of which I took myself on my travels so I hope you found them relevant and interesting.

My readers came from 100 different countries, mostly from the UK but with the USA and India close behind.

My fifth most read post was: “Is social media the key to small business marketing?” from June 2011. This was in 3rd place last year

My fourth most read post was: “Erotic Capital – boobs, Botox, and making the best of yourself” from April 2010. This was number one last year.

My third most read post was: “It doesn’t pay to be too nice” from November 2012 which made 4th place last year.

My second most read post was: “No-one likes to be average” from June 2011. This was also in second place in 2011.

And my most read post was “Stress back on the agenda” from August 2011. This was the only post which didn’t feature in the top 5 last year.

Some food for though about my performance targets for this year as you seem to prefer the older posts (4 out of 5 appeared in last year’s most-read list).

So thank you for  reading, liking, and following.

All my posts generate a tweet from @ukSGandA and you can follow me there too.

And if you want to read my posts on business psychology and related topics check out EI4U

Hope you have a prosperous and successful 2013!

Feedback – whose responsibility is it?

Working with a client the other day he mentioned that he never got feedback from his boss on how well he was doing. When I asked him if he ever asked for feedback he admitted he hadn’t and that he avoided bringing it up.

When I asked him why he thought his boss never gave him feedback he thought it might be because he didn’t have anything good to say – which is why he avoided bringing it up.

When questioned further he wondered, on a slightly more positive note, whether or not his boss just wasn’t used to praising staff or hadn’t been trained to do it.

It started me thinking about whose responsibility it is to provide feedback? Is it just up to the manager to do this and only at specified times of the year as part of the dreaded performance review process? Surely not.

Why shouldn’t people ask their bosses for feedback as part of their own career management?

And why stop at bosses? As anyone who has undergone a 360 degree feedback process knows it is very interesting to find out what other people think about your performance and behaviours and can be a powerful incentive to change or improve.

So maybe managers should give themselves permission to give staff feedback at any time it is appropriate and staff should be more assertive about asking, even demanding, feedback.

Years ago Schein said that everybody at work wanted to know how well they were doing. Recent research however suggests that it doesn’t necessarily work out so well for women. Women in groups receiving feedback seem to perform less well.

Has Training evolved?

De-cluttering my archives, a sort-of  New Year resolution, I came across “The Best of the Training Journal. Key articles 1995-1999″. Unable to resist a peak at the recent past I put it in my to-read pile for a rainy day and wondered how relevant it would be today.

The topics for these articles were:

  • How to write training materials (March 1998) by Eddie Davis
  • A process for selecting training methods (December 1998) by Clive Shepherd
  • On-the-job Training (September 1997) by Mike Cannell
  • Emotional Intelligence: the new way forward (July 1999) an interview with Daniel Goleman
  • Running a successful learning centre (Jan/Feb 1999) by Karen Velasco
  • Herzberg – still a key to understanding motivation (July/August 1996) by Donald Cameron
  • Training and maintaining the virtual team (March 1999) by Shirley Pickering
  • Being appraised (May 1995) by Trevor Bentley
  • Influencing Skills (Jan/Feb 1996)  by Nick Heap

So has anything really changed over the last decade?

The article on writing training packages would stand up today in it’s general advice except that it doesn’t mention all the things we now take for granted. And the big difference is the internet. Creating e-books and PDF files or creating training packages for webinars or other interactive tools wasn’t a consideration in this article.

However in the second article. published the same year,we have a specialist in the use of IT and he produces cost comparisons between web-based, PC based, workbooks with video and audio support. and on-the-job and classroom instruction. So it seems that the use of technology was still considered a specialist area at the time.

The third article on on-the-job  (OTJ) training was written against a background of businesses cutting costs and reducing off the job training. The IPD (as the CIPD was then called) had published a report encouraging more OTJ training and this article was written by the author of that report.

The article on Emotional Intelligence (EI) is an interview with Daniel Goleman shortly after he published his second book “Working with Emotional Intelligence”. It’s basically a critique of traditional training methods but Goleman also concedes that EI is within the domain of personal or interpersonal skills. He argues that EI learning needs lots of repetition and practising models over several months otherwise it’s like “learning to play the piano in one lesson”. This is an interesting piece historically as Goleman talks about his collaboration with Richard Boyatzis and their work for the HAY group. Did we realise just how big the EI industry would get?

The fifth article on running learning centres is a good overview and a reminder of how they could and did contribute to employee development. I’ve seen learning centres in large companies but also seen them run down on cost grounds,  so that they become just drop-in centres where you can go on-line but without any personal. How many companies still provide learning centres?

The fifth article is about Herzberg’s two factor theory of motivation. The author is particularly keen to help managers understand the theory as he believes it helps them understand the links between loyalty and motivation. Do managers still learn about Herzberg (or Maslow)? What do managers and trainers understand about motivation?

The sixth article about training virtual teams is probably more relevant today with more globalisation. The author emphasises the need for soft skills as well as technical skills and recommends that training should begin in a traditional way and using psychometrics to help team members understand each other better. That’s certainly the approach I have used with virtual teams using MBTI Step 2 as pre-work. One thing the article doesn’t cover is cultural differences and that can be an interesting challenge!

Being appraised is what it says, a guide for people being appraised. and is a welcome change from the usual guides for managers and emphasises that appraisal should be for your benefit as well as the organisation. Still relevant today.

The last article is about influencing skills using a diagnostic model based on open systems theory. It covers interventions and transitions as well as contracting and I found it interesting and well worth a re-read.Whether organisations would invest in a 4-day skills course is a different matter in the current economic climate.

Overall an interesting dip into my archives and I could definitely still use some of the information and ideas. Technology has obviously moved on and the current economic situation has some influence although times were hard in the 90s too.

My most read posts on Leadership & Management in 2011

As last year the competition is really hot out there with some great writers and experts but here are the figures from WordPress showing which of my posts you read the most.

My readers come mainly from the UK, USA, and Canada, followed by India, Oceania and Brazil.

In 5th spot was: Most people prefer male bosses. Despite all the posts I’ve written about getting women on board!

In 4th spot, but with the most comments, was: It doesn’t pay to be too nice This was number 1 by a big margin in 2010 so it’s obviously still struck a chord with you all.

In 3rd spot was: Is social media the key to small business marketing? Seen by many as the answer to their marketing problems but it won’t completely replace traditional methods.

In 2nd spot was: No-one ones to be rated as average This was prompted by the poor reactions people have to performance appraisal systems and my experience in implementing them.

And in top spot was: Erotic capital, boobs and Botox. Making the best of yourself Carol Hakim’s work has obviously struck a chord – or perhaps readers wanted a bit of spice to brighten up their day? A page 3 of the management blog!

So thanks for reading my posts and I hope you have a prosperous 2012

You’ll find posts on work psychology and other business-related psychology topics at EI4U

Rude, Arrogant, and Powerful?

Being conscientious is a good predictor of performance in a job.

It doesn’t mean however that you will be seen as powerful.

The evidence suggests that it is the rude and arrogant person who is perceived as being a powerful decision-maker.

A paper published earlier this year in Social Psychological & Personality Science; ” Breaking Rules to Rise to Power…” found that people rated rule-breakers as being more in control and leaderlike than conscientious types.

Researchers in Amsterdam wanted to see if the reverse were true. If you break the rules are you seen as more powerful? And the answer appears to be yes.

People in positions of power have more freedom to act and can ignore the rules. Research has shown that powerful people often ignore the social norms of he workplace for example by taking more than their share of the biscuits from the plate, eating with their mouths open and spreading crumbs.

In the Dutch experiments participants were given scenarios in which people violated the rules at work by stealing coffee and ignoring financial anomalies. A control group was given similar scenarios without the norm violations. Participants recognised the norm violations but also rated the culprits as more powerful.

Then, in a real-life experiment in a waiting room, one of the confederates who arrived late and threw his bag on the table was perceived as the more powerful. In another video experiment they tested the hypothesis that powerful people react with anger rather than sadness to negative events, in this case treating a waiter brusquely and dropping cigarette ash on the floor.

The authors say; “as individuals gain power they experience increased freedom to violate prevailing norms. Paradoxically these norm violations may not undermine the actor’s power but instead augment it, thus fuelling a self-perpetuating cycle of power and immorality”.

Rudeness is a cross we have to bear in the workplace. Surveys show that the percentage of employees experiencing rudeness at work more than once a week doubled between 1998 and 2005 from 25% to 50%. In fact in 2005 25% of employees experienced rudeness every day.

This has a negative effect on the organisation as people lose focus, try to avoid the rude person, are less productive and think more about leaving.  And you don’t have to be the object of the rudeness. According to American researchers, just witnessing it effects your cognitive ability in problem solving, flexibility, creativity, and helpfulness. Like stress the rude encounter makes us more stupid.

And it seems more than 9 out of 10 people get even with the rude person or the organisation in some way eg through vendettas.  And rudeness seems to be contagious making us ruder and more aggressive than we would be normally. So not good for the organisation let alone customers and employees.

On the other hand research at the University of Michigan shows that virtuous behaviour has the opposite effect. The more people experience helpfulness, forgiveness, generosity, courage, and support – or even just witness it – the more they are likely to do the same.

So virtuous behaviours encourage flexibility, creativity and good team work and makes employees feel good at work, thus enhancing employee engagement.

But what of the rude and arrogant people themselves? A report in the Psychologist this year described the work of Russell Johnson and colleagues at Michigan State University who developed a Workplace Arrogance Scale (WARS) to use in their research. This measured behaviours such as “shoots down other people’s ideas in public”.

First they defined arrogance as “behaviours that exaggerate your importance and disparages others”So first cousin to narcissism except that narcissism includes thoughts and attitudes that don’t effect others such as self-admiration.

Their research showed that arrogant individuals report fewer examples of organisational citizenship behaviours such as helping people and going the extra mile. So confirmation of other research in this field.

They then looked at how good arrogant employees were at their jobs. They used the WARS, measures of overall task performance and performance in specific areas such as customers, relationships, and development. Individuals rated themselves and were rated by nominated individuals in their organisation – a selective 360 degree survey.

They found that arrogant workers were rated as being weaker in almost every way by their raters. Some people who rated their managers as arrogant also rated them as poor across the board so there was possibly a horns (negative halo) effect or just some of the payback other researchers have found.

Perhaps surprisingly arrogant employees also rated themselves weaker at relationships and overall performance with both their supervisors and direct reports in agreement. In another study the arrogant individuals reported lower self-esteem and more job-related strain. They also seem to fixate on minimising mistakes rather than focussing on success.

As the research didn’t include objective measures such as sales figures, it might be that arrogant employees realise they are ostracised and because of their low self-esteem join with their critics and discount themselves about their perceived performance.

No one wants to be rated as average

The news that HSBC uses a forced distribution method in allocating bands to staff in its performance appraisal process will come as no surprise to people employed in large organisations. According to the CIPD this approach is used in about 10% of companies.

This method is aimed at stopping managers awarding lenient or generous ratings to mediocre and averagely performing staff. However it means you have to allocate, in this case 10%, of your staff to the under-performing or failing band even if you believe they all performed in an exemplary manner.

No manager wants to have under-performing staff and having to rate some of them as basically average can also be a difficult message to sell. So HSBC staff who meet all their objectives will be rated as “performing” and rated in the middle band – which staff will see as average if there are 5 bands – rather than in the “outperforming” or “outstanding” bands.

In the HSBC example the lowest band has no formal label but is known as “car-parking” because that’s where you allegedly get told you are no longer required (can’t have you making a fuss in the office can we?). “Neutron Jack” Welch at GE had a similar system where each year the bottom performing 10% were sacked – no doubt “pour encourager les autres” .

As a business psychologist the idea of distribution curves of human performance is not unreasonable  and even economists will quote you the 80:20 rule. So I would expect in any organisation that there would be a percentage of people who don’t want to be and shouldn’t be there and a proportion of staff who need no incentive to perform well and will always be the stars. And in between there will be a majority of people who are “steady Eddies” and will do a good job for the organisation.

A consultant colleague disagrees with me as he believes that no-one goes to work intending to do a bad job. In principle I can agree with that although I believe there will always be a proportion of people who intend to do the least they can and play the system. But even if my colleague’s assertions are true the evidence generally supports my argument so what has happened?

Well according to Deming (in his 1993 book New Economics…) “A manager of people needs to understand that all people are different. This is not ranking people. He needs to understand that the performance of anyone is governed largely by the system that he works in, the responsibility of management.” In other words the system in which you work has more impact on your personal performance than performance appraisal processes acknowledge.

And the line manager has the most impact on performance and morale. If you are head of a small team that has worked its socks off and performed really well as both individuals and as a team – who are you going to single out and rate as failing? And how much responsibility does the manager take for that happening anyway?

This is when performance appraisal can be so demotivating and as HSBC has found their employee engagement score had dropped from 71% in 2009 to 68%. The union Unite isn’t happy about this state of affairs and as they rightly pointed out: if HSBC are recruiting the right staff shouldn’t the failure rate be minimal? And whose fault is it if the right staff aren’t recruited in the first place?

The CEO Stuart Gulliver admitted the system wasn’t perfect and they should be looking for something better but it was probably the “least worst  system”.