Why businesses invest in communication and create metrics for proper employee evaluation?
In Fortune 500 companies, the key to financial success lies in the consistency of day-to-day operations and communication. The even larger Fortune 100 firms such as Google have succeeded by deploying effective and consistent management skills while offering a compelling product. However, small and medium sized businesses often lack the proper internal management structures that can carry them to success. A key success metric for small to medium businesses is the utilization of effective and consistent managers who understand the core business strategies, employee management and customer demands. Coupling this understanding with proper communication techniques, organizations can enhance their ability to retain employees through the presentation of a cohesive message FutureOn. By investing, broadening, and harnessing proper communicative techniques, problems that once seemed divisive can be resolved in amicably while retaining employee loyalty.
An owner-operator practice with fifteen employees in the Dallas-Fort Worth area established an annual evaluation process for its employees to monitor progress and compensate accordingly. Every year all employees sat down with the physician to evaluate their work and compensation packages. The first step involved filling out a questionnaire detailing the employee’s achievements. Upon its completion, it would be handed to the physician for review prior to the one-on-one interview. This is the case of Nancy, a key employee of the practice whose interview process somehow had become derailed. During Nancy’s interview, the conversation was very casual, complementary and placid revolving around her achievements over the past year and the practices overall satisfaction with her. Areas of growth were established and her role as a leader was re-confirmed. Great appreciation was shown for her activities outside the practice that correlated directly to its success. The conversation ended in a very passive and collaborative tone, and Nancy walked away from the interview feeling satisfied.
After the meeting, the physician provided a three page written evaluation of the employee and a response to the financial package. The physician’s response to the questionnaire and financial package was blunt, aggressive, and derogatory with generalized behavioral change mandates which were never mentioned in the interview. The tone and content of the written evaluation criticized Nancy in areas that were not mentioned in the meeting. Nancy had not been employed as support staff, but rather in the capacity of a financial producer. She was a leader and added value beyond her core competency within her field of practice. Other employees often relied on her for advice and guidance, and her leadership skills had a positive effect on the practice. Within the letter, the physician demanded that she take a step back and become less active within the practice to allow others to step up to the plate.
The two mixed messages caused grave confusion to Nancy and sent conflicting messages to the staff. Which message should Nancy respond to: the written criticism or the passive one-on-one conversation? Nancy was being sent two contradictory messages by her employer. Was she a valued member of the practice, or was the employer setting the stage for her dismissal? After a week of confusion, Nancy contacted the physician and requested clarification on this matter. The physician pointed to the letter as the lead reference. Nancy accepted the criticism and moved to change her behavior as requested by her employer. She proceeded to become passive and allowed others to step up to the plate. By her passivity a leadership vacuum formed that lead to other team members resenting her. The lack of guidance and her passivity led others to perceive that she no longer cared about their problems or the practice as a whole. Five weeks after the interview process, Nancy had fully complied with the behavior changes requested by the physician.
After the sixth week, to make things yet more confusing, the physician and other office staff pulled her aside and admonished her for being passive. The physician requested an immediate response and wanted know whether she was on the verge of quitting. Nancy explained that it was mandated by the physician and that she had acted accordingly. The physician was shocked by Nancy’s response and requested that she revert back to her old self. Subsequently, a three hour conversation ensued and apologies were offered by the physician and the miscommunication appeared to be resolved. However, on Monday morning, Nancy was written up for her behavior and a three month assessment period was set. The practice was once more sending two very distinct and contradictory messages to the employee.