This is the fourth in a series of five AMA Playbook blogs that will help you with your performance management by redefining your company’s expectations of its employees as outlined in your annual performance review template. Modeled after Paul Falcone and Winston Tan’s The Performance Appraisal Tool Kit: Redesigning Your Performance Review Template to Drive Individual and Organizational Change (AMACOM 2013), the definitions below will help you redefine your organization’s expectations of its employees by raising the proverbial performance bar and setting everyone’s sites on a higher level of performance delivery.
Creativity and innovation are critical skill sets that help companies stand apart from the pack—especially in terms of global competition. After all, while many U.S. manufacturing and white-collar customer service jobs have been “off-shored” over the past few decades, the United States remains home to the greatest innovation companies in the world. So broaden your employees’ understanding of what it means to reinvent their work in light of your organization’s changing needs. You don’t need to work in Silicon Valley or Hollywood to be creative or innovative. It simply takes a healthy dose of curiosity and a corresponding willingness to adjust your way of doing things to achieve greater efficiencies, customer accolades, and revenue-generating opportunities.
Raising the bar in terms of performance expectations isn’t as hard as most employers think. It’s simply a matter of defining what that particular core competency should look like in your company from this point forward. There’s no better place to start than with your company’s performance review template. Let’s look at a before-and-after snapshot of how to best describe your organizational expectations in terms of worker creativity and innovation.
Core, Traditional Descriptors
Sample performance appraisal language seen in various industries define “Creativity” or “Innovation” along the lines of the following:
Generates original ideas and follows through to completion. Adds value by looking at existing systems and processes and volunteers recommendations that increase efficiency or save time. Suggests useful and valuable ideas that focus on novel and practical ways of re-approaching a process or system to enhance efficiencies or create value.
While this definition per se is fairly acceptable as written, it lacks the emotion or energy that you might otherwise expect in defining something as critical as creativity and innovation. Instead, try combining some of the following language elements to describe your company’s intentions more concretely . . .
Enhanced Descriptors Reflecting an Organization’s Heightened Expectations
Regularly looks for opportunities to turn ideas in action, inject creativity into every touch point, and develop strategies for innovation. Focuses on identifying new parallels, patterns, variations, and analogies to generate fresh ideas. Thinks outside the proverbial box and volunteers well thought out recommendations based on sound logic and principles. Communicates openly, makes others feel welcome and safe to volunteer new ideas, and positively engages talent within the organization and across the value chain. Rethinks the routine with a fresh perspective and employs right-brain imagination with left-brain logic and planning.
Looks for new ways of reinventing the workflow in light of our department’s changing needs. Simplifies processes, learns what works, and finds creative ways of implementing new technologies, systems, and processes. Searches regularly for new methods, techniques, and tools that increase efficiency and reduce costs. Encourages open discussion and collaboration with others to rethink routine processes and generate creative alternatives. Considers innovation in the workplace an ongoing responsibility and welcomes change as an integral part of both individual and company growth.
You can also stretch the core value of innovation by setting standards and expectations that reinforce their importance on an enterprise-wide basis:
Views all employees as leaders, innovators, and change agents. Recognizes that innovation is the number one leadership competency of the future that will help our company differentiate itself from the competition. Regularly gains new perspectives from peers and team members and likewise provides constructive input relative to others’ ideas and suggestions. Fosters a spirit of creative collaboration and questions common practices in an effort to reinvent the routine. Encourages others to be inventive and take appropriate risks. Values creativity, productivity, and efficiency as the keys to career development.
Now that’s a creative way of describing creativity! It’s not too late to add an element of passion to your performance review template. It’s simply a matter of defining the touch points that capture the spirit of this oh-so-important core competency.
Keep an eye out for the following AMA Playbook blog posts coming your way soon that highlight how to set the performance bar higher for these key performance review competencies: Leadership, Teamwork, and Communication. Along with Customer Service, these “Big 5” will round out your performance review template nicely. And of course for other core competency descriptors, look no farther than The Performance Appraisal Tool Kit or Paul Falcone’s bestselling2600 Phrases for Effective Performance Reviews (AMACOM 2005).
Paul Falcone is a human resources executive in Los Angeles and has held senior-level positions with Nickelodeon, Paramount Pictures, and Time Warner. He is the author of a number of AMACOM and SHRM bestselling books, four of which made SHRM's prestigious "Great 8" list: 96 Great Interview Questions to Ask Before You Hire, 101 Sample Write-Ups for Documenting Employee Performance Problems, 101 Tough Conversations to Have with Employees, and 2,600 Phrases for Effective Performance Reviews. His latest AMACOM book, 75 Ways for Managers to Hire, Develop, and Keep Great Employees,
was released in the spring of 2016. Follow Paul on Twitter at @PaulFalconeHR and his website and blog at www.PaulFalconeHR.com.