Posted on by Jessica Peaty

The Performance Management Process – What Works?

The performance review is part and parcel of employee management for the overwhelming majority of companies today. For HR teams and managers, the appraisal process often takes up a significant chunk of time so it’s worth ensuring that the system works.

In theory, it should form the cornerstone of employee development. Ensuring consistent performance and contributing not only to the productiveness of a team, but their happiness and motivation. So it’s worrying to see that 90% of HR leaders have little faith in the accuracy of information provided by performance reviews. In turn, employees often regard them negatively.

These trends have led many business leaders to question the validity of official, annual performance appraisals. However, done right, employee reviews can offer a big opportunity for all involved. To trick is finding out what works for your business, its people, and the HR team. The question is, where do you start?

1. Create goals

It’s perhaps one of the most obvious tips, but these milestones should always remain realistic, measureable and relevant.

Create goals that employees can strive towards and achieve with the right support. Make sure timelines are in place so both employee and manager can check in and understand their progress, and most importantly, keep them relevant.

Ultimately, objectives should not only be pertinent to the employee and their development, they should also create value for the business itself, tying in with overarching departmental, or organisational aims.

2. Cultivate a free-flowing conversation

As we’ve touched on, appraisals present an opportunity to support staff members in their roles, and ensure they’re working in a way that best uses their talents.

Putting it bluntly, performance reviews are a chance for an employee to communicate with their manager. From the manager’s point of view, coming prepared is key, as is giving praise where it’s due, and constructive feedback in a balanced way. At the same time, the onus should be on giving the employee time to respond.

3. Continually feed back

One of the main bugbears of critics when it comes to appraisals, is that everything discussed can quickly become outdated. In short, by the time manager and employee reconvene twelve months later, everything may have changed.

Treating performance reviews as an ongoing conversation throughout the year gets around this problem. That way, goals can be altered to fit in with current circumstances, staff will feel supported, and managers can be certain that their team are working towards achievable, valuable aims.

4. Make it work for everyone

Appraisals should ideally leave everybody involved feeling good about the conversation that’s taken place. In order to make this happen, the review process needs to stack up against your company’s aims, ambitions and culture.

There’s no one set way, or template to ensure success here. Instead, creating a system that works effectively to fulfil organisational aims, while supporting its people, is the goal. For example, this might involve giving the employee enough time to fill out a set form before the meeting. Or the review might happen in a more fluid, conversational way. As long as it contributes effectively to the bigger picture when it comes to ongoing performance evaluations, support, and rewards, and remains consistent throughout the company, that’s the crucial part.

5. Use technology to your advantage

Conducting productive performance meetings is one thing, but without a reliable system to store and make sense of this data, the opportunity to progress and learn as a company could be lost.

With online HR systems, performance reviews can be streamlined, adding efficiency to the process for staff, managers and HR teams. Not only this, it allows HR teams to use the information in clever ways to provide an extra layer of insight for business leaders.

As an example, from start to finish, managers can set meetings in their team’s calendars, and objectives can be added straight to the system after being discussed, alongside the recorded outcome. Training needs are also easily monitored, alerting the training manager at the same time, and the HR team is kept in the loop throughout. This keeps everything visible to all concerned, and in one place.

Working online also has the benefit of being paperless. Documents can be uploaded if needed, it’s accessible to relevant staff members, and customisable. What do we mean by that? Quite simply, the workflow can be designed to reflect the way your organisation conducts their review process.

To sum up

There’s no set way to approach performance reviews, and they certainly should be used for the greater good, rather than to absorb staff member’s precious time, or undermine employee progress.

With these tips, designing a framework that works flexibly for your company is absolutely achievable. Through a better understanding of what an effective appraisal system looks like, what it can deliver, and how technology can do to enhance the whole process, a happy, engaged and productive workforce is within reach.

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