Relying on Face-time to Evaluate Employees' Performance is a Mistake

People are mostly visual learners. In fact, more than 50% of what we learn come from visual stimuli. We will most likely react to what we see than what we hear, feel or even analyze. This is the reason why advertising with visually stimulating content in billboards, televisions and on the internet is a half-a-trillion-dollar industry each year.

Similarly, in the management of an organization, managers often fall into the temptation of relying on what they see to assess an employee’s performance. For example, a manager sees their employee arrive early for work and stay late. Every time they pass by his or her cubicle, they find the employee in front of a computer doing a seemingly productive task. The manager says to himself, “Hey, that’s my kind of person, hard-working.” Come the time for their performance appraisal, that employee is given an excellent rating and high ranking even if they do mediocre work. What the manager saw became the main basis of performance appraisal instead of focusing objectively on the output. They relied on ‘face time,' rather than on results. Not only does this biased appraisal reinforce mediocre work by that employee, but it may also have unintentionally fueled resentments by others who actually work more efficiently. Some employees may feel that the manager is out of touch with what is really going on the department, which is not good for morale, culture, or quality of work.

Indications of a 'Face Time' Manager

To illustrate this further, let me ask you some questions about your work if you are an employee. First, do you scamper back to your desk when you see your boss pass by when the reason for your out-of-desk trek was to get an important file from a colleague? Do you feel guilty or embarrassed when the boss sees you taking a coffee break outside of break time, when in fact, you skipped lunch to finish your task?

As a manager, does an employee leave a negative impression when they constantly look at the clock and leaves the office the minute the clock strikes five? Do you fail to understand how certain employees can provide excellent output while others with similar background and education fail to come close to the same output? Do you easily accept that the number of finished tasks of a full working day is the average output of most?

If your answer is yes to any of the questions above, there are definitely areas to be improved in your employee performance appraisal process. The change doesn’t have to include an overhaul of the appraisal system, however small improvements in many of components of the process can make a significant difference.

These improvements are tantamount to employee engagement, which in healthcare, will ultimately result in a more efficient and positive patient outcomes, and in the realization of institutional objectives, such as accreditation. This result is the main inspiration and goal of every healthcare organization. Therefore, performance management is one of the priorities that necessitate immediate action, and if I may say, a lot of guts.

If you are a manager, take a look at the Performance Management suggestions below, and see where your organization can benefit:

  • Refine and redefine and your appraisal system to include client satisfaction, principal output criteria, and completion of projects rather than primarily relying on 'face time'.
  • Institute a system that promotes goal-setting and constant feedback.
  • Base performance measurements on objectives and goals met (ask: how much did the output contribute to the attainment of goals?)
  • Distinguish which part of the job will flourish with more flexibility.
  • When allowing flexibility, ensure adequate time for communication and teamwork in the office. Those with the best output can be given more flexibility.
  • Identify steps that were taken outside of the normal workflow that resulted in quality output, and utilize the findings to work on improvements.

The main challenge is not to focus merely on the implementation itself. There are compounding factors that prevent a smooth process of performance management. One factor is the number of employees. When there are 10-15 employees, improving performance management is very manageable, however, if the number reaches 50 to a hundred or more, performance management is very daunting given that overseeing staff is but a part of the many managerial responsibilities.

At this point, a technology platform that allows a manager to keep track of employee progress on projects and that which includes a real-time feedback and recognition system makes performance management less cumbersome, more objective and more employee-friendly. Once a clear and consistent baseline is established for your staff's progress, managers will be able to engage employees in other authentic ways. They can then focus on what inspires their team; they can identify and address troublesome dynamics, and encourage work-life balance. These areas infuse positive energy into the organizational culture, which in turn improves leadership, morale, and patient experience.