We Got 99 Problems But Performance Appraisal Ain’t One

To be fully satisfied and be able to contribute to the company effectively, employees need to feel that they’re valued. They should have clearly defined roles and objectives for them to be at their best. A proven way to ensure this is performance appraisal.  Regular performance appraisals enable a company culture that encourages both personal and collaborative success. Individual employees need the reinforcement of knowing that they’re valued by the company management. The appraisal process helps create an environment of collaborative goal-oriented work. It allows management personnel to establish guidelines for compensation and benefits, track employee strengths and weaknesses, identify the best candidates for promotion, provide feedback for improvement and enhance training programs. This process provides an opportunity for communication between the management and the employees, allowing both to discuss concerns and share ideas for improvement in critical areas. Instead of being an annual process, regular appraisal, feedback or 1:1 discussions can help keep both the parties aware of the needs and issues of each other. The one to one setting of an appraisal meeting can free up the employees to share grievances, ideas, and any other issues that they feel demands attention. The workforce is happier when the management listens to the employees.

The most popular police department in the world, that of the 99th precinct in Brooklyn has a few lessons about effective employee appraisal and ensuring coherent performance in a team filled with oddball eccentrics and die-hard workaholics. The stern Captain Holt must manage a talented but quirky team, helped along by Sergeant Terry. Together they have to ensure that the team is effectively combating crime, while also having to ensure that they do not set the place on fire. Literally. Considering the variety of challenges that they have to face; Captain Holt and his deputy do a pretty good job of ensuring productivity in the workplace. Their methods are quirky and may not be practical in the truest sense of the term, but they sure are effective. So how do you effectively implement performance appraisals? Captain Holt does have some answers.

The Brooklyn Nine Nine team at work.
Captain Holt has a lot of answers, if only Peralta lets others have the stage once in a while. Image Source

Acknowledging That It’s Not a One-Time Event

Performance appraisal should not be treated as an annual formality. The only annual part of it is salary action and/or filing forms. It should be treated as an ongoing workplace conversation. The goal of this process is to exchange feedback between the employees and management, and it should be continuous. There should be a regular exchange of ideas and issues; waiting for the problem to arise might be too late. A constant, regular interaction between the two parties ensures a more satisfied workplace.

The detectives of Brooklyn Nine Nine were a part of a healthy system in which employees could openly share the problems that they faced or ideas they had. Captain Holt always had an open-door policy and that made his team comfortable in coming up to him. Perhaps a bit too comfortable at times! Instead of it being a once in a while affair, Captain Holt ensured that he was aware of any and every issue that the team as a whole was facing on a regular basis. Whether it was Jake Peralta’s personal financial troubles or his messed-up back affecting his performance or Amy’s personal struggles with quitting smoking taking a toll on her focus at work, Holt and Terry had frequent interventions to identify and address performance roadblocks. This in turn made sure that the employees knew their Captain had their backs, allowing them to perform their jobs to the best of their capabilities.

The kind of motivation and appraisals we all need and deserve.
Image Source

Ensuring That It Is a Two-Way Conversation

For an effective appraisal process, it is essential that the feedback should be mutual. This one on one opportunity should be utilised to the maximum, allowing employees to share their ideas and expectations from the company. This feature then becomes an incentive for the employees to participate more actively in the appraisal process. There should be a special focus on encouraging employee participation and ownership in the performance appraisal process. Having an environment where the employees and managers can together discuss goals, objectives and challenges ensures clarity in terms of expectations of performance.

Had Captain Holt and Sergeant Terry been the only ones sharing criticisms and providing feedback, the fate of the team would’ve been different. Jake often marched right into Captain Holt’s office and stood up to him when he felt he was wrong. So did Charles, as was evident when Holt let his personal feelings toward a renowned Oboist cloud his judgment as a detective. Even Gina, the civilian administrator was given opportunities to share her ideas (not that she needed an opportunity to be her dazzling unabashed self) as to how Holt could deal with his unfortunate transition out of the Nine-Nine and played a pivotal role in saving the precinct. By giving all their detectives a chance to share their views, the precinct ensures its own longevity as the crime fighting comedy powerhouse. 

Use Appraisals To Earn Your Employees’ Confidence and Loyalty 

The process doesn’t just have to be about promotions and staff development. You can also challenge employees to improve their performance, and increase your team’s productivity as a result. Ultimately, as employees see for themselves that the process ends up being fair, transparent, rewards them for their contribution and helps them grow where there is scope to, you end up earning their trust. For example, showing an under-performing employee ways to reach their true potential and the benefits they can reap by getting there can help galvanize them.

Speaking about galvanizing and motivating your team!
Image Source

Terry coached and motivated Amy Santiago so that she could aim higher and go on to become a mentor in a program when she had actually applied to be a mentee. Holt and Gina together helped Terry get back to his full self and back on active field duty after he snapped during a mission fearing for his safety. Similarly, Jake trusted Holt and risked losing his job by not testifying in front of a committee in spite of having evidence in order to keep the cover intact on an active undercover operation. The Nine-Nine team often entrusted their superiors with their deepest secrets and personal demons because of an inherent faith in the fact that their interests would be paid heed to.

Using this process to improve employee performance by having a conversation about their expectations and the role that they’ll fit best in can be mutually beneficial for both the employee and management. The Nine-Nine is a living testament to the power of appraisals done right. And also to the power of yogurt!

P.S. Looking for a tool that takes care of all the above and helps you put in place a robust performance management process? Qandle has got you covered!

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