Performance Appraisal Lessons from #MissUSA

(Thanks to Visit Baton Rouge and the Baton Rouge Social Media Association I’m serving as one of the Social Media Ambassadors for the 2014 Miss USA competition.  This post originally appeared on The Advocate’s blog site)

MissUSA CrownI’m an HR lady. I’ve spent 20+ years running Human Resources Departments, recruiting employees, and talking about things like ‘talent’ and ‘performance’; it’s one of the reasons this whole #MissUSA competition is so incredibly fascinating to me.

This past Wednesday we enjoyed the preliminary event and it set me to thinking about how the competition – and judging – is similar to the employee performance appraisal process. It appears that many of the foundational aspects of a good performance management system are embedded within the Miss USA process:

  • There are clear standards and performance expectations which have been outlined upfront
  • The contestants are, in an ongoing and timely manner, coached in the behaviors, skills and abilities that will lead to ‘on the job’ success
  • Throughout their tenure, contestants willingly accept feedback with a focus on personal development and as preparation for future opportunities

Performance appraisals in the workplace are most assuredly not perfect; in fact they’re often viewed as one of the most ‘broken’ things in the entire realm of HR and talent development.  No one (not even your HR Director who runs the process) likes them.

But never fear!  Organizational and HR leaders who watch the pageant (Sunday! June 8!) may be able to pick up some helpful tips on how to improve their workplace appraisal process when they learn to:

  • Be clear in defining what is required for success. The Miss Universe/Miss USA/Miss Teen USA pageants do“The titleholders of the Miss Universe Organization personify the combination of beauty and intelligence that defines the 21st Century.”  Now I’m surely not advocating that you require your employees be beautiful, but you get the gist.
  • Consider using a multi-rater system to gather input from various stakeholders.  This can not only minimize the effect of biases that may arise when only one individual is rating performance but also leads to a more holistic view of the employee’s performance.  Pageants have done this for years with their “panel of judges.”  

So I attended the preliminary competition on Wednesday and thought about performance appraisals while simultaneously admiring the evening gowns, sequins and pageantry.

It was much more fun than sitting through a performance appraisal at work. And you heard that from HR.


Follow #krewedecrown #missusa and #goBR for updates. Next stop is the red carpet! Visit the Krewe de Crown blog for updates from the entire team.

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