Psychologist of Work and Organizations

How to conduct employees’ performance appraisal

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Performance appraisal is one of the most unwelcome steps in organizational life.

Mistakenly, we believe that this judgment comes only from the people who are assessed.

But, based on my consulting experiences, performance appraisal and, particularly the subsequent meeting with those appraised, are activities which are especially unpleasant for the evaluator.

Although it may seem paradoxical, it is the evaluator who feels they are put in a difficult emotional situation: it isn’t easy to say to an employee that he/she doesn’t work as expected, it’s hard to face the employee’s emotional reactions (anger, disappointment or frustration), and often the evaluator worries about generating a conflict, inside the team, that will affect the work in the future.

For these reasons, evaluators often tend to protect themselves from this disagreeable experience by simply avoiding it: “… We don’t need performance appraisal here … My staff knows that I don’t evaluate them. They work better in this way…!”.

Very frequently, managers in charge of the evaluation adopt a more subtle avoidance technique: they empty the evaluation of its real content, transforming it into a simple formality, a sort of organizational ritual: “I give the same evaluation to all the staff members. We don’t even need to do the appraisal interview, because they already know the results!”. Continue reading

Why does trust matter in organizational life?

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There is an important aspect of organizational life that we often forget to consider: trust.
This feeling, if present or absent, can deeply condition the entire organizational life.

What is trust? How could we define it?
Commonly, in everyday life, we tend to use the word and the concept of trust as an extension or a synonym of “faith”. If we use this definition, trusting somebody would mean to have faith in her/him and in her/his actions and behaviours.

But there is something deeper in “trust”.
We really trust somebody when we are willing to be vulnerable in front of him/her. We accept being weak, or showing our weakness to the person we trust because we strongly believe that such a person will never act to damage us, and so we don’t try to control his/her behaviour.

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How to manage resistance to organizational change

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There are two basic rules in organizational life:

  • Change is inevitable,
  • Everybody resists change.

For these reasons, how to manage resistance to organizational change is one of the most discussed issues in organizational management theory.

For many years resistance to change has been considered to be a negative reaction, something to avoid during the innovation process.
The same term “resistance” elicits a negative connotation. In the psychological “jargon” resistance is the subject’s attempt to avoid the awareness of something (generally a concept) real but perceived as a threat.
Consequently with this representation, employees’ resistance to change becomes in a certain way a pathological reaction (bad) to the change (good).

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Managing and evaluating conflicts during the organizational change

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Change is an inevitable part of organizational life and often it leads to conflicts inside the organization and amongst its members.

How is it possible to effectively manage a process of change? How can we deal with the conflicts generated by the organizational change?
First of all, it would be useful to approach the organization as a system, instead of focusing the attention only on a part of it, a “whole” composed of different groups or individuals. Each of them can contribute to the process of change or, on the other hand, to hinder it, depending on each person’s perception.
For this reason, the first step of every process of change management should be an accurate analysis of the stakeholders and their perception of the change. With the term “stakeholder”, accordingly with the Freeman’s definition we intend every person, or group of people, who can affect or is affected by the achievements of the organisational goals.
Often we forget that people in the organizations (but it’s possible to state the same thing for every day life), need a reason, better if it’s a good one, to accept and embrace a change.

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Change management

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One of the most difficult aspects in managing the organizational change is overcoming the employees resistance.
What can a manager do better to deal with this issue? Are there “techniques” that allow us to easily align the different expectancies between leaders and members of the organization?

According to the organizational literature, the ways to reduce the employees resistance are generally the following:

  • Rewarding and sanctioning techniques;
  • Asking the employees to participate and co-design the new process;
  • Improving and reinforcing the communication, in order to explain why the change is needed;
  • Relying on other people to persuade employees to support the change;
  • Giving inspirational speeches to gain the employees support.

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