Improving Your Performance Appraisal System

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This is the 70th episode of the Mind Your Noodles podcast. In this episode, Tripp discusses performance appraisals. Contact me via email at if you are a new or aspiring executive for discounts to The 95 Method executive education system.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Show Notes

Mind Your Noodles – Episode 70

Differing Opinions on Performance Appraisals

My Solution – The 95 Method

The Customer Lens



Tripp Babbitt: [00:00:01] This is the seventieth episode of the Mind Your Noodles podcast, and I’m doing something very different, so I’m a little uncomfortable because I recorded a lot of my executive education programs on film. I’m at 18 and I can do different things in order to clean them up a little bit. And even then, they’re not perfect. But in the podcasts from now on and the Mind Your Noodles, we’re also going to have video. So like I said, it’s going to be different for me. But I think it’s something that will help people who listen to the episode maybe in their car and go back. They can watch the video or they have the option of watching one or the other or listening slash watching one or the other. But I just want to lay it out front. I’m going to be a little uncomfortable doing these shows live because I haven’t done them before in this manner. But this week I wanted to talk about an article I read and the article is called Using Neuroscience to Make Feedback Work and Feel Better. Now, I’m a huge fan of David Rock. If you listen to my Paul Zak video, he’s not or the podcast episode Dr. Paul Zak, isn’t it? He doesn’t because David Rock is not really a neuroscientist. Neither am I. But I don’t I don’t know that that matters in as much as what I think the Neuro Leadership Institute does and what David Rock does.


Tripp Babbitt: [00:01:41] It misses the mark.And that’s one of the reasons that I started this podcast, was because there’s different viewpoints, different perspectives on things, and you should use them all and make your own judgments about things. Dr Paul Zak has a a certain view on the way neuroscience science should be used. David Rock does. He has a lot of good research that he’s done in developing his model. I’ve developed my own based of off of my learning and a lot of my background comes from the work of W. Edwards Deming and understanding appreciation for a system, theory, variation theory and knowledge and psychology. Those four things make up his system. So I’m heavily influenced by the work that Dr. Deming has done. And you may also hear one of the things about doing the video is you may hear my dog bark. So just keep that in mind. When you when I’m recording this, we do the best we can to keep her silent. But she is like our dog. But because I’m based in Dr. Deming’s work, I have learned things differently. And I’m not saying any of them are right or wrong. I have a different perspective on the way the things are done. And I want to cover this thing on performance appraisals. And I’m actually calling this in the article David Rock talks about. Using neuroscience to make feedback, work and feel better will feedback, we may almost immediately think in terms of performance appraisals. And so I’ve titled this episode Improving Your Performance Appraisal System, which some of you are going to find kind of funny, because I’m not a fan of performance appraisals and we’ll get into why. But in the article, David Rock and folks from his organization wrote, he stresses two pieces of research and the first piece of research is on stress. You’re going to have stress whether you’re getting or giving feedback to someone. And there’s a lot of research associated with that. We just you know, we don’t like to get it and we don’t like to have to give it. And performance appraisals, obviously, for you at least some once a year.


Tripp Babbitt: [00:04:13] Most organization thinks in terms of performance appraisal and giving some feedback to an employee. And in the article, he talks about that feedback as to follow feedback, to help follow the purpose of the organization. And I think that that’s completely ridiculous. But and I’ll explain why.


Tripp Babbitt: [00:04:39] But one of the things and you get into when you’re talking about feedback is most people, most organizations, most business schools, most neuroscientists and the Neuro Leadership Institute are going to talk to you in terms of what I would call a micro level down to the individual versus the macro level and the organization. So I’m not so focused on the individual. I’m more focused on the macro. The organization not saying the individual is not important to an organization, it is.


Tripp Babbitt: [00:05:17] But you’re going to get your bigger gains by looking at the macro of things and feedback. To me, I think there’s a different approach that organizations should take and giving feedback to employees that doesn’t involve this stressful event of giving and getting feedback. The second piece of research was that from Gallup actually. Eighty seven percent employees want feedback, but only 19 percent receive routine feedback. And of those, which is even a smaller subset, 17 percent say the feedback is meaningful to those who actually get feedback from an organization. So this is one of the reasons why you’re constantly hearing from employees, at least one of the reasons why you constantly hear from employees that they hate the performance appraisal process managers hate to have to spend the time to do it. And I’ve got multiple examples from multiple organizations that spend an inordinate amount of time trying to make something objective, a performance appraisal objective to something that’s obviously very subjective. And one of the things that complicates that is that the manager these days often doesn’t understand the work in which they’re trying to give feedback on. And so that makes it very difficult for them to become a coach and helping give meaningful feedback to someone. OK, so for me, I look at. So how do we how do we give feedback? Well, to me, the wrong approach is performance appraisals. Bottom line, it’s just it’s something that I know every organization I’ve walked into has performance appraisals and I typically don’t start there with them. And I’ll get into that a little bit later. But they have the performance appraisals and it’s got to be at least 90 percent, especially of large organizations that I focus on. Let’s say one hundred and fifty plus employees are going to have some type of feedback that involves performance appraisals. The coach, oh, just on the performance appraisals there, there have been multiple solutions to this.


Tripp Babbitt: [00:07:44] Some people say, well, all you have to do is give more frequent feedback. So instead of doing it annually, give it quarterly. But it doesn’t fix the problem of the manager understanding the work that that a worker does or get to the fact that there are systemic issues or synthetic issues associated with the problems that an employee must have.


Tripp Babbitt: [00:08:08] And that actually fits into my solution. I’ll talk about later. But the other thing they’re talking about in this article that the Neuro Leadership Institute put together is what you need is you need to coach to maximize people’s potential. And this, again, gets back to the intimate knowledge of work that’s needed in order to give meaningful feedback, and Gallup has a thing out there called the Clifton strengths where you’re going to get into this. Now, I’m as I said before, I focus in on the system. I’m not here to do leadership types of things, that there are hundreds of people that focus in on that. I’m more about method. And and these folks are more about, you know, well, when you look at what David Rock does, he has something called Scarff, which is status, certainty, autonomy, relatedness and fairness that he puts into the feedback portion and thinks he suggested. But still, the missing link here is the focus on the individual.


Tripp Babbitt: [00:09:29] And I don’t believe that that’s the way that that employees want feedback. And I think because he’s trying to get people to ask for feedback as a as a way to mentally or using neuroscientist’s that that puts them in the right state of mind as people are asking for feedback. I don’t think you need to do that at all. So this gets into my solution.


Tripp Babbitt: [00:09:52] My solution is that remember my executive education programs called the ninety five method, meaning ninety five percent of the performance of an organization comes down to the system that you work in. And, you know, if a contact center agent, for instance, is looking for feedback, the problem that they have today is they never see the end solution to the customer. And so we’re missing the system for them to be able to provision a service, end to end to a customer. And when they can see that they’ve provisioned it correctly and the customers happy and they’ve gotten what they wanted, then that’s the feedback loop that they need. They don’t need a performance appraisal. Now, this is my experience and working with my system. Now, if you just go out and do it, you’re going to have problems because your system’s not currently set up the right way for it to happen. So this involves then in order to get to the issues associated with what’s preventing a contact center agent from provisioning a service end-to-end. And you’ve got to see it for yourself first. So this is in the executive education program where I talk in terms of the customer lens. You’ve got to be able to look through that customer lens to understand what’s happening in the system and what you’ll see. And I use quite often other companies that I’ve had to interact with, cable and roofing companies. And even a wine company I used over the weekend have troubles in their system, provisioning those services end to end or communicating problems out before they become bigger issues.


Tripp Babbitt: [00:11:42] And you first have to, as an executive, need to understand that customer lens and see through it. And I would encourage you to go out and look at some of the training that I have. I have a soft launch at this point of the training. I’ll open it up more broadly a little bit later. I’m going through all types of feedback loops myself from my customers that are giving me feedback saying, hey, why don’t you do this and price it this way and do these different things. So I’m digesting some of that information to adjust my system. And these are the same things that I would want you to go through as an executive is build a better system first before you just go scrapping performance appraisals. Not a good idea, by the way. Changing systems involve having particular knowledge in this case, having intimate knowledge of the customer through the customer lens. And then if you want to advance someone in an organization, then you can start to introduce or the second part really of my training in order to understand your synthetic thinking is the thinking lens. And this gets much more complicated and how you begin to change your system and making it better.


Tripp Babbitt: [00:13:07] So my suggestion is ultimately to in looking at some of the words of Russell Ackoff with one of the original systems thinkers taught at the Wharton School, he basically would say, if you’re focusing in on the individual and doing performance appraisals, you’re.Doing the wrong thing, writer and famous quote of his. And for me, it’s not. People will take that as a prescription and I really don’t want you to do that. What I want you to do is think in terms of studying your organization and looking through the customer lens by first looking through the customer lens, then second. Secondly, going through and looking through this thinking lens. And again, I’ll be updating some of the information here on YouTube so that you can get involved in the training if you want. I’m going to make it very affordable for folks, especially here at the beginning. This is the feedback again I’m getting from people that I’m currently communicating with that are customers of mine or new to the system. But changing systems is a tricky business and you can do it. And some people have been successful in doing it, just scrapping it and scrapping things like performance appraisals. But I don’t suggest you start there and I never do. The first thing I do again is look through that customer lens and then look through the thinking. That is this week’s episode. Like I said, it’s been a little uncomfortable for me. I’m not used to talking into a camera and doing a podcast episode, but it’s more than a podcast episode now because now we’re going to have video. So I hope you learned something this week. Maybe give a little bit different perspective and we’ll have something new for you next Monday.


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