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How to Improve Employee Annual Evaluations?

Research: the impact of performance evaluations on an individual's network.
Published on
19 December 2017

Employees often perceive annual evaluations as stressful, childish or demotivating. As a result, this performance measurement tool is controversial and could gain much if it was improved to encourage positive interactions between employees and evaluators. We speak with Isabelle Né, a professor and researcher at Grenoble Ecole de Management who specializes in behavior in organizations and psycho-social risks.

What should be the goal of an annual evaluation?

The evaluation, or better yet, the appreciation is a logical part of job and competency management systems. Evaluations are designed to help understand a company's needs and encourage growth in terms of career advancement, skills or specific knowledge.

You have to think of how to anticipate, adapt, evolve, develop and management talent. Evaluations are particularly useful in terms of analyzing jobs (job tasks, descriptions, required skills, and needs in terms of adaptation, evolution and training). An evaluation tool should be structured in terms of these needs. Think about the future, not just the past.

Can you speak about some fundamental concepts that are useful in terms of evaluations?

It's important that we underline the fact that a negative evaluation leads to a loss of motivation, engagement and can sometimes encourage a depression or burnout, in particular for employees who are very invested in company life. Remember that you are not evaluating an individual, but their work. This distinction is essential to everything else I will suggest. Avoid categorizing people as skilled or unskilled.

Remember that work is not simply a sum of key figures. Employees often have key knowledge of their job which is unknown to management. This is part of the concept put forth by Christophe Déjours, which underlines the difference between real work and assigned work. In other words, how employees actually appropriate their job and its tasks.

One of the first recommendations you make in terms of annual evaluations is the fact companies should create an evaluation that includes meetings, informal exchanges, and even other employees. Why?

This collaborative approach helps overcome fears of being judged or treated in a childish manner. Much like student evaluations for teachers, this approach enables employees to speak more freely about their experience and their difficulties. Informal exchanges during the year enable employees to speak about problems more immediately and not wait until the end of the year.

How do you then integrate informal exchanges into a structured evaluation?

A formal meeting can be a good way to speak about personal troubles or even an employee's boredom at a given job. However, this doesn't mean you have to record everything, especially if it concerns personal troubles.

You and other researchers highlight the need to go beyond taylorism…

Transforming the role of managers is the key to transforming annual evaluations! This means not thinking in terms of being a “control” person, but rather a “support” person who has the capacity to listen and address issues as they arise. Currently, managers have to deal with complex markets and organizations. The solution is to act as a “servant leader” who is at the service of employees.

Horizontal management organizations are less complex and managers are there to provide support. Individuals are rarely “checked up” on. There’s a real paradox between school and work. Young children are taught to become autonomous and organizations are constructed on the opposite postulat.

As a result, you highlight the need to leave behind rigid evaluation methods and adopt a certain flexibility…

Flexibility enables conversations and a real discussion about careers and possible advancement. What's done, is done. You have to look to the future, especially when there are major problems. The real conversation is about listening and providing empathy in order to overcome sticky situations. It's essential for quality customer relations. And in the same way, it's essential for employees. The less they feel like they're being treated in a childish manner, the more responsibility they can take on.

A study by Deloitte highlights the importance of managerial training in order to improve positive and constructive feedback…

The feeling that work can "lose its meaning" is not new. Individuals have always tried to appropriate their job. In organizational theory, many support the idea of participative approaches because it's very different thing to have power "over" individuals versus "with" them. This provides managers with legitimacy and they don't have to coerce employees.

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  • websites such as TripAdvisor have given consumers the power to impact a company's image.
    Published on 22 March 2016

    Recherche : TripAdvisor ou l’irrépressible montée du pouvoir des consommateurs

    A travers TripAdvisor, les clients ont une influence croissante sur la réputation des hôtels et ces derniers répondent de plus en plus aux avis défavorables. C'est ce que montre une étude menée entre 2002 et 2012 sur les avis des clients de 600...

  • Research: Creating Visitor Engagement Through Music
    Published on 29 February 2016

    Research: Creating Visitor Engagement Through Music

    Digital communications have created an information overload for customers. To stand out on the world wide web, companies have to offer clients a high-impact experience. When used properly, music provides a simple yet effective means of creating a...

  • Published on 04 February 2016

    Low oil prices cause investment in renewables, biofuels and energy efficiency technologies to decrease

    The current weak price of crude oil is having an adverse impact on the amount of investment in renewables for heat generation, biofuels, and energy efficiency technologies, according to Grenoble École de Management’s Energy Market Barometer Reading.

  •  Thibault Daudigeos is a researcher in Sustainability, Corporate Social Reponsibility, Alternative forms of Organization, Sharing economy, and new models of management at Grenoble Ecole de Management.
    Published on 26 January 2016

    Research: Corporate Social Responsibility at Odds with Global Markets?

    Corporate social responsibility (CSR) policies have received much attention for their potential to improve societal conditions while creating value for companies. However, this latest study from Grenoble Ecole de Management highlights the fact that...

  •  Thibault Daudigeos is a researcher in Sustainability, Corporate Social Reponsibility, Alternative forms of Organization, Sharing economy, and new models of management at Grenoble Ecole de Management.
    Published on 26 January 2016

    Recherche : Responsabilité sociale des entreprises globalisées, plus facile à dire qu’à faire

    Les démarches de Responsabilité sociale des entreprises (RSE) sont censées créer de la valeur. Pourtant, elles peinent à se mettre en place dans les secteurs où les chaînes de valeur sont éclatées : elles coûtent cher et ne profitent pas forcément à...

  • Published on 18 January 2016

    Refugees entering Europe: a positive impact on the economy ?

    The majority of European CFOs believe that refugees entering Europe will have a positive impact on the economy. Nearly 60 percent% of European CFOs believe that accepting migrants will help solve the looming demographic problems their nations face...

  • Published on 07 January 2016

    Baromètre du climat des affaires : l’optimisme se stabilise

    Nous rapportons dans ce document la perception du climat des affaires par les responsables financiers français et la comparons aux résultats obtenus en Europe et dans le reste du monde. Nous évaluons également les sources de risque pour l'entreprise...

  • Published on 04 January 2016

    Recherche : Produit d’origine locale, une mention qui parle au consommateur

    La mention « origine locale » apposée sur un produit alimentaire déclenche chez le consommateur des perceptions plus positives et une intention d'achat plus forte qu'un produit d'une autre région française. Trois études portant sur 632 consommateurs...

  • -	Projet CHESS – Connected Health Early Stage Researcher Support System
    Published on 08 September 2015

    Connected Health: the New Health Management Models

    Save lives and improve quality of living during and after treatment in the most cost-effective way: the promises of connected health are opening encouraging horizons for the future of healthcare systems. Connected health will contribute to creating...

  • -	Projet CHESS – Connected Health Early Stage Researcher Support System
    Published on 08 September 2015

    Santé connectée : les nouveaux modèles de management de la santé

    Sauver des vies, améliorer la qualité de vie pendant et après le traitement, le tout au meilleur prix : les promesses de la santé connectée ouvrent des horizons encourageants pour l’avenir des systèmes de santé. Elle contribuera à créer un...

  • Rüling Charles-Clemens, Professor GEM
    Published on 08 September 2015

    AMJ Best Article 2014 : Congratulations to Clemens Rüling

    This summer at Vancouver, during last conference « Academy of Management Annual Meeting » Clemens Rüling and his co-authors received the prize of the“AMJ Best Article 2014” for their article on the evolution of United Nations conferences on climate...

  • Published on 07 September 2015

    Energy market barometer report: the development of energy prices

    The next Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21) will take place in Paris from 30 November to 11 December. The Paris Climate Summit, announced as one of the biggest climate negotiations in history,...

  • Published on 03 July 2015

    Making a success of your business transfer: new tools developed for a European project

    Every year, approximately 150,000 business transfers fail in Europe threatening some 600,000 jobs. BTAR's European project, launched in early 2015, aims to target the vulnerabilities in business transfer systems and draw on best practices in order...

  • Published on 23 June 2015

    Baromètre de la finance : Climat mondial des affaires juin 2015

    La perception du climat des affaires par les responsables financiers français et la comparons aux résultats obtenus en Europe et dans le reste du monde. L'évaluation des sources de risque pour l'entreprise ainsi que les prévisions de croissance des...

  • Published on 22 June 2015

    Research: Microeconomic Degrowth, Community Supported Agriculture

    Economic growth is the cornerstone of mainstream macroeconomics. In the face of economic crises and unemployment, growth has long been the only acceptable solution. Yet many issues have started to challenge this dominant economic model. As a result...

  • Recherche : nutrition des sportifs et plaisir
    Published on 16 June 2015

    Is It Fun or Exercise ? The Framing of Physical Activity Biases Subsequent Snacking

    While the benefits of exercising are widely accepted by consumers and healthcare providers, people who begin an exercise program don't necessarily lose weight. A fact that can be frustrating not only for practitioners, but their coaches and...

  • Mark Olsthoorn, professor and researcher at Grenoble Ecole de Mangement
    Published on 07 April 2015

    Barriers to Electricity Load Shift in Companies, a Survey-Based Exploration of the End-User Perspective

    Overcoming the barriers to renewable energy systems is a key challenge. In shifting from centralized fossil-fuel energy production to decentralized solar and wind energy production, countries are being forced to act on multiple fronts : flexible...

  • Mark Olsthoorn, professor and researcher at Grenoble Ecole de Mangement
    Published on 07 April 2015

    Recherche : Effacement de consommation électrique, pourquoi les industriels hésitent

    En acceptant de réduire leur consommation électrique lors de pics de demande, les industriels faciliteraient l'équilibrage des réseaux de distribution. Or, ils ont de solides arguments pour ne pas jouer la carte de la flexibilité. Une étude les...

  • Vincent Mangematin, Associate Dean for Corporate Relations and Research at Grenoble Ecole de Management
    Published on 17 March 2015

    Orchestrating Innovation with User Communities in the Creative Industries

    In search of continuous innovation, the digital creative industries have expanded their interactions with user communities to develop their products. This study highlights the evolution of these company-user relationships that allow for fluid...

  • Published on 16 January 2015

    Nostalgia makes consumers more likely to spend or donate money

    The use of nostalgia has been a top trend in marketing in the last few years, in commercials, product lines and even TV shows. The present study demonstrates that feeling nostalgic weakens the desire to hold on to money, and makes it easier to part...

  • Published on 16 January 2015

    Recherche : Pourquoi la nostalgie vous donne envie d’acheter

    La mode actuelle des produits « rétro » ou vintage ne doit rien au hasard. Une étude co-écrite par Jannine Lasaleta, chercheur à GEM, montre que ce qui suscite un sentiment de nostalgie réduit simultanément l’attrait pour l’argent. Le dépenser...

  • Joachim Schleich, professor and energy markets experts at Grenoble Ecole de Management
    Published on 01 December 2014

    Research: Switching to energy efficient lighting : a bright idea!

    Energy efficiency policies such as the EU ban on incandescent light bulbs (and on halogen ones in the near future) have been the subject of much discussion in the last few years. The majority of the academic community predicted that new emerging...

  • Published on 07 November 2014

    Research : Digitization, Changing How We Work and Coordinate Projects

    All of us use digital tools and objects that can now be shared and combined in a variety of ways. This change has profoundly influenced the organization of work with projects being divided according to specialization and geographical location.

  • Published on 07 November 2014

    Recherche : Effets spéciaux pour le cinéma, l’art de faire collaborer 60 métiers

    Comment les spécialistes des effets spéciaux collaborent-ils sur un même film alors qu’ils appartiennent à 60 métiers différents et sont répartis dans le monde entier ? Deux chercheurs de GEM ont étudié les mécanismes de coordination qui structurent...

  • Erno TORNIKOSKI is a Professor in Entrepreneurship at Grenoble Ecole de Management.
    Published on 16 September 2014

    Research: How can the start-up process be accelerated?

    Success or failure of new businesses is what most studies related to the start-up process focus on. However, in today's dynamic market, time is a highly critical issue for nascent entrepreneurs.