Analyzing Michelle Neely Martinez’s article “Rewards Given the Right Way”
Ever dreaded the annual performance review? Once a year companies try to evaluate their workforce with a standard form containing generalities that are supposed to define whether each employee was successful over the previous year. The grading systems, one-way communication, and lack of collaborative effort create a dreaded process for all parties involved. To combat this loathsome process, Michelle Neely Martinez, in her article “Rewards given the right way”, explores a new design for performance appraisals that promotes open conversation regarding company and personal goals, avoids the negative reactions caused by constructive criticism, and creates positive evaluation of employees’ strengths and weaknesses to inspire “development and improvement.” (p. 2)
To encourage open conversation managers have to remove the preconceived notions of their subordinates that the review process is a one-way dialogue. Using grading scales made the employees focus mainly on the marks they were receiving instead of involving themselves in what the marks meant. This caused employees to only argue their stance when there was a lower value assigned to their performance than they expected, thus eliminating productive conversation. Eliminating the grading system and introducing the Socratic Method to foster constructive collaboration between manager and subordinate creates a constructive and positive performance evaluation. The purpose of “broader two-way exchanges” Martinez explains, is “to focus more on development, as well as to initiate more open and honest conversations.” (p. 2)
Upon removing the grading systems and encouraging open dialogue the evaluation meetings could accomplish addressing how employees can improve their skills in line with company values and goals. Discussions regarding the employee’s time management skills, for example, become opportunities to build on positive attributes like completing one task before starting another one. Next they can confer on the necessity to eliminate distractions, and discuss specific examples for improvement, without the fear of a negative grade based on one transgression. This open dialogue promotes constructive criticism from both the reviewer and the reviewee.
The new process outlined by Martinez helps reduce the negative reactions by employees caused by constructive criticism. She states “many managers fear that providing negative feedback will backfire, no matter how constructive.” (p. 3) Huse (1966) found “the more criticism, the more the defensiveness. The more the defensiveness, the less the performance change noted in the subordinate.” (p. 2) By opening the review process into collaboration where employees can freely discuss what they need to improve upon, managers can provide candid feedback on the employees’ shortcomings with minimal fear that the employee will...