What Scares HR? Lazy Managers at Appraisal Time

By SHRM Online staff Oct 30, 2008
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Forget branches scraping against the window, spooky shadows and the lonesome hoot of an owl for inducing sleepless nights among HR professionals.

Instead, they count managers too lazy to perform accurate performance appraisals among the things that most strike dread into their hearts.

In its second annual HR Halloween Survey, conducted in October 2008, Halogen Software found that more than half (58 percent) of 300 HR professionals in North America ranked lazy managers as the biggest cause of their appraisal nightmares, followed by incomplete appraisals, late appraisals and too much paper.

Among their complaints:

  • Managers who are “easy graders and turn in appraisals that do not accurately reflect the employee’s performance.”
  • Managers’ “constant criticism” of the appraisal process regardless of changes HR made in response to those complaints.
  • The organization’s standpoint that reviews are not related to salary increases, prompting employees to question their relevance.
  • People who say giving feedback is important but complain about all the work involved in the appraisal process.

Handling problem employees is the issue that most strikes fear into HR on a daily basis, with nearly 26 percent ranking this as the top issue; in 2007 technology was listed as the biggest fear.

Employees that most spook HR are:

  • Vampires, 34 percent—employees who hide in the shadows and suck the organization’s resources dry.
  • Zombies, 30 percent—employees whose minds and dedication have vanished long ago, leaving just a shell to perform the job.
  • Aliens, 18 percent—no one is quite sure where they came from, who hired them or why.
  • Ghosts, 6 percent—employees who seem to disappear into thin air when called upon.

Others nominated ghouls, Dr. Frankenstein, imps, illusionists, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and witches and warlocks to the rogue’s gallery of scary employees.

Ghouls are seen as likeable creatures with years of tenure but no corporate experience who plot and plan to trip up new people to make themselves look great.

Frankensteins, according to Halogen, move things from place to place and appear productive but are not working on the organization’s strategic priorities.

Imps try to position themselves as perfect employees at the expense of others.

Illusionists are managers who have stopped learning and cannot recognize their weaknesses.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde types are workers who say one thing but do something completely different.

Witches and warlocks appear extremely knowledgeable and capable, are highly respected by senior management but are not what they seem.

Also getting a nod as issues that make HR fearful on a daily basis: retention and recruiting concerns, pay for performance/bonuses, and retiring workers. Less than 2 percent listed generational differences in the workforce as a top workplace fear.

Current economic issues are what HR most fears will wreak havoc down the road (33.5 percent). In 2007, HR ranked succession planning as its biggest fear for the future.

Other long-term concerns: building a high-performance workforce, retention, training new managers and retiring workers.

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