A procurement manager is giving a performance appraisal to a staff member
July 1 is always a big day around here at the Next Level Purchasing Association. For example, we launched the SPSM® Certification on that day in 2004. We launched the SPSM2® Certification on that day in 2009. And July 1 is the day that salary increases for Next Level Purchasing employees go into effect each year.

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You know what that means, right?

It means that performance appraisals precede the salary increases. Therefore, I’ve recently completed performance appraisals for my team, which led me to ponder some things.

Despite the fact that I’ve been in a leadership position for well over a decade, I’m still wrestling with the idea of performance appraisals and how they should be done. Though management textbooks and training tend to advocate a very formal performance appraisal process, I tend to handle performance appraisals a little less formally.

There are a few reasons why.

First, every single member of the Next Level Purchasing team does an absolutely fantastic job. Really, each one of them is a superstar at what he or she does. They don’t need a performance appraisal to kick them into gear. They are extremely self-motivated. Maybe it’s because I’m good at the hiring process. Or maybe it’s luck. Whatever it is, my team is awesome.

Second, I’ve observed the performance appraisal process for many years going back to the companies I was with prior to founding Next Level Purchasing as well as observing the performance appraisals done and received by colleagues. And I’ve drawn one conclusion: that even if a leader tells an employee 100 of their strengths and one of their “developmental areas” (those management textbooks tell you you have to give both positive AND negative feedback but to sugarcoat criticism by calling weaknesses “developmental areas”), the employee will stew on the criticism and the feedback that was intended to improve performance actually hurts morale and, as a result, productivity.

That being said, I do think it is helpful for a leader to recognize the good work of his/her employees. With leaders’ busy schedules, having recognition on the calendar in the form of an annual or semi-annual required performance appraisals can help ensure that it doesn’t slip through the cracks. And I know that some organizations require formal performance appraisals to collect evidence in the event an employee needs to be fired at some point.

But what are your thoughts on performance appraisals? If you’re a leader and you had the flexibility to do them the way you wanted, how would you do them? Or would you do them at all? If you’re not in a leadership position, how do you feel about the way(s) that your performance has been assessed throughout your purchasing career?

I’m interested in your thoughts – use the comment link below to share them.

Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3

Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3 is an internationally-recognized business expert, legendary procurement thought leader, award-winning entrepreneur, and provocative blogger. Charles founded the Next Level Purchasing Association in 2000, oversaw its incredible growth, and successfully led the organization to its acquisition by the Certitrek Group in 2016. He continues to blog and provide advisory services for the NLPA on a part-time basis as he incubates his upcoming business innovations. Charles is also the co-author of the wildly popular, groundbreaking book, "The Procurement Game Plan: Winning Strategies & Techniques For Supply Management Professionals."

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