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#WFH: Is Your Performance Appraisal Based on Outcomes?

For years, performance appraisals took place between a supervisor and a subordinate and were based more on behaviors and personalities than on outcomes. Although interactions are very important in the virtual workplace there is no direct link be-tween observation and organizational or individual success. Organizations need to implement an integrated approach that matches interactions with outcomes. The virtual workplace relies on teamwork and mutual buy-in. Together, goals and objectives are discussed and determined. There is a realization that not only meeting the goals but how the goals are met is important. How people get things done is as important to meeting those goals as what is accomplished.

Inputs lead to outputs. If there is a failure to meet a goal, what resources, processes, systems and protocols contributed to that result? Success or failure is not just the sum of individuals perform-ing tasks. It is a combination of culture, technology, leadership and a host of other factors. Performance management in the virtual environment is not a matter of checking off boxes or filling in blanks. It can, however, identify staff development needs, gaps in processes and procedures and inadequate resources. Personal and professional development is challenging in the virtual workplace. It is not impossible.

Since the mid-1990s, performance evaluation has moved away from outputs and rewards towards continuous personal and professional development. This process focuses on identifying gaps in motivation and competencies and then providing the means to fill those gaps. Rating and labeling was labor intensive and ineffective. Individuals often didn’t improve when scores and categories were used to identify inadequacies. This is exemplified in a virtual environment where group work or teams are usually responsible for the overall performance.

Top down is also ineffective in a world that is more open and much flatter. Virtual communication routes are more accessible and direct than what is represented in traditional organizational charts. Objectives set at the top and then sent out in a variety of directions have little effect. Do it right is being re-placed by do the right thing. Rigid job descriptions tend to dissolve in a virtual environment and professional identity is being redefined. Working virtually is much less about moving up a corporate latter and being politically savvy and much more about making real contributions.

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