Bitter. Crushed. Bruised. These are words that have been used to describe employees after the traditional performance review. So how are they greeting your customers with a smile?

I recently finished reading “Catalytic Coaching: The End of the Performance Review” by Garold L. Markle. Markle prefaces the book with his first encounter with Dr. W. Edwards Deming in 1993, where a seminar participant asked “It’s clear that you’re not fond of performance appraisals or performance ratings. What do you propose that we do in place of them?” In response, Dr. Deming said “If your performance evaluation system does more harm than good, just quit doing it. You don’t have to have an alternative to make an improvement”. Markle set out to understand a better alternative and documents his journey in his book.

The premise of Markles’ Catalytic Coaching system is a constructive partnership between manager and employee, built around frank, open, and constructive feedback and desire for each individual to achieve his/her ultimate potential.

Most of today’s businesses utilize a similar “traditional” model for performance reviews. Managers fill out forms once a year rating employees on how well they accomplished an assigned list of business objectives. A summary is then presented orally and the review session customarily ends with the impact of past performance on the individual’s base salary. Markle argues that fundamental problems exist with this traditional model and virtually all performance management systems.

Catalytic Coaching is presented as a replacement for traditional performance evaluations. The employee is defined as the owner of the Catalytic Coaching process, and has the ultimate responsibility to prepare and implement his or her own development plan. The supervisor abandons the role of critic/judge and becomes a facilitator in the employee development process, functioning like a coach.

The principle behind Markle’s methodology is helping people grow. It’s about bringing out the best in people at work and recognizing both the joy and complexity of work done by people. Markle suggests that a better system, like Catalytic Coaching, will promote activities designed to impact a company’s bottom line. Treating human assets as people will have the ultimate impact on profitability.

Markle adds that tying a compensation system too closely to the evaluation system is a grave error. An annual base salary increase should be nothing more than an adjustment to keep someone’s pay competitive with the market. Better performers may receive larger increases or adjustments; however, total compensation should always be a reflection of the position they are filling and the experience they bring.

The Catalytic Coaching process can be summarized in 4 steps:

  • Step 1– Employee completes input sheet, sets up meeting with supervisor, and summarizes three points: contribution (what he/she has done for the organization), improved capacity (what he/she has done for his/herself), and development needs (what he/she wants to be he/she grows up)
  • Step 2– Supervisor completes coaching worksheet, sets up meeting with employee, provides feedback on employee input
  • Step 3– Employee completes the Personal Development Plan (utilizing 360 degree feedback and personal business goals), presents PDP to supervisor/coach
  • Step 4– Supervisor/Coach stewards the PDP implementation

Markle suggests that following this process, versus the traditional methodology, will result in employees making positive behavioral changes and cumulative impact of change for businesses.

If your organization’s culture is subpar, employee retention is declining, or customer service is suffering, consider a review of your performance evaluation strategy. This may be one area that your employees are feeling frustrated and under-valued.

To learn more about Catalytic Coaching, check out the book on Amazon. Subscribe to our blog to receive future articles regarding insightful books and employee culture best practices.

Amy Robertson

From her office in Roanoke, VA, Amy manages “all things marketing” for MPAY. Her most recent bragging rights include becoming a Net Promoter Certified Associate.