Recently I have been working with several of our clients to upgrade their performance appraisal process. What I find most interesting is that regardless of an organisations size or industry the challenges they all face are remarkably similar… Actually they are usually just the same!
So what are the common problems with performance appraisals? I’ll start with the obvious – the name itself… What you call the process and how you brand it will play a major role in how it will be received. The whole notion of a performance appraisal is very ‘old school’. It suggests that the process is owned by management of HR and it creates fear in individuals and removes individual responsibility and accountability. The annual appraisal system may also encourage leaders to avoid day to day performance management issues and instead save them all up to be addressed once a year at the annual meeting… The results of this are rarely positive and can in fact be disastrous!
The good news is that I have already seen some major shifts in this area as many organisations rebrand and reinvent their system with a focus on development over appraisal. The reinvention process creates the opportunity to connect back to the intent. We can ask the questions; what lies at the heart of the system? Why do we bother with it in the first place? What are the expected outcomes?
A good performance development system should do the following:
- Set people up for success
- Provide clarity and focus
- Be a positive experience
- Increase engagement
- Build trust
- Create opportunities for development
- Drive high performance
- Unite teams
For any system to achieve all of the above, the structure and measures must be right! Your PD system should be linked back to your organisational frameworks such as; your vision and values, and strategic plan. You need to establish a set of relevant KRA’s (Key Result Areas) that balance the focus between people and task. You should roll out training for all staff to use the system and ask the questions. Do your people know how to set SMARTA Objectives and determine what key actions will support the achievement of that objective? Do they have a basic understand of lead and lag measures? Are your templates designed to be aspirational, intuitive and enjoyable to use or do they create frustration and drive tick and flick behaviours?
The Performance Development Process is often undervalued and therefore underutilised by all concerned. If your people don’t understand the intent behind the process they will most likely miss out on the enormous opportunities that exist within it. Imagine an organisation where everyone took complete ownership of their journey and managed their performance development plan to achieve or even exceed their personal and professional goals… If you teach people what to measure and how to measure it, chances are they will be motivated enough to make it happen for themselves!
Download the SMARTA Objectives template on the BRS website here