Some of my staff works hard, others hardly work. How can I fix this?
Question: I am a project manager in a software development firm. Most of the work we do is in project teams that last from between 6 to 18 months. As a manager, I have 6 developers who report to me as their administrative manager.
In that capacity, I approve their leave and provide feedback for performance reviews. Providing performance feedback is a challenge since they are all assigned to different project under other project managers.
To make matters more confusing, I mange three projects staffed by people who don’t report to me and for which I have no input into their performance reviews. The result of all this mess is that some staff work hard, others hardly work. How can I fix this?
Alice Waagen: If it is any comfort, I see this problem in almost every project-based organization that I work with. It really comes down to the mismatch between an annual performance appraisal process (based on a align with the annual budget cycle) and an irregular project completion cycle.
If we required all projects to be executed in a 12 month window that exactly matched the budget and performance appraisal calendars, this problem would go away!
One solution I’ve seen that can eliminate some of the chaos is to create an end of project feedback and appraisal process. Whenever the project ends, the project manager can document the achievements of each of the project staff, and then share his or her feedback with the staff and their administrative manager for inclusion in the annual appraisal process.
That way the project work is sure to be included in the staff persons review.
A better way
Try streamlining the gathering of feedback is to shift the responsibility of obtaining the feedback in a timely manner from the managers to the employees themselves. Make it every employee’s responsibility to seek out and document performance feedback.
If the employee owns the process of getting the feedback, they become the driver of the process rather than a passive victim when it is not done right. What we are talking about here is pushing accountability down to its lowest level.
Employees own their performance appraisals and the records of their accomplishments. Those who perform well and who actively seek to capture their accomplishments can thrive. Managers shift from chasing forms and documenting accomplishments not under their watch to being coaches and mentors.