Ratings as part of performance review #fail
With October looming, I am back challenging performance review or appraisal (often referenced as performance management) and particularly the use of “teacher ratings.” It is nearly as preposterous as presenting the percentage of “Outstanding lessons?” It comes the day after I was reflecting on my Coaching supervision session and whether “coaching” or “supervision” approached could be applied in education as a model for staff development/appraisal.
How does the land lie in education? “Getting Rid of Performance Ratings: Genius or Folly? A Debate” does not pull any punches.
Despite years of research and practice aimed at improving the performance appraisal and performance management process in organizations, dissatisfaction with the process is at an all-time high. More than 90% of managers, employees, and human resource (HR) heads feel that their performance management processes fail to deliver the results they expected, and many view their current processes as ineffective and/or inaccurate (Corporate Leadership Council, 2012).
One of the main goals of performance appraisal is and always has been simply to achieve high performance by enabling managers to guide employees to increasingly higher levels of productivity and by motivating employees to do their very best. We have somehow managed to create just the opposite.
Several high profile companies have opted to eliminate annual performance ratings entirely (Adobe, and Gap, Inc) and yet it prevails in education? In fact, many schools rely heavily on annual performance processes, rating and labelling teachers in line with inspection terms; an “Outstanding teacher..,” a “Good teacher,” and a teacher who “Requires Improvement.” For all many of reasons, and evidence, it is inaccurate and unhealthy.
The article offers seven, yes seven, sub-headings or arguments for eliminating rating; (a) the disappointing interventions, (b) the disagreement when multiple raters evaluate the same performance (lesson observations anyone?), (c) the failure to develop adequate criteria for evaluating ratings, (school context) (d) the weak relationship between the performance of ratees and the ratings they receive, (e) the conflicting purposes of performance ratings in organizations (professional development and pay), (f) the inconsistent effects of performance feedback on subsequent performance, and (g) the weak relationship between performance rating research and practice in organizations.
There are a myriad of complex and interwoven issues that need untangling and restringing when it comes to the broader and more significant task of effectively managing an employee’s performance. That does not simple mean abandoning ratings (discussed in the article) rather the article proposes that organisations need to determined the critical outcomes they want to achieve and decide how best they can ensure staff deliver against key goals/outcomes? In education’s case, most likely the school’s improvement plan and student attainment and progress outcomes.
- What business/education aims are we trying to achieve?
- Student measures; attainment and progress, attendance, enrolment?
- Staff retention? Financial measures?
- What do we want to evaluate and reward?
- Individual or team performance or both? Possible school performance?
- Which professional behaviours, outcomes, both, or other?
- How do we view our staff, and how much do we need to compete for talent?
- How much do we really rely on ratings for decision making? In education – most are linked to pay performance?
- How mature and ready is our school to remove formal performance management steps and processes? And how effective are we at the daily behaviors that drive performance?
In summary, the use of ratings is just representative of deeper problems – a performance management process that is poorly designed and implemented.