The core function of appraisal – to drive business performance – is as important as ever even though traditional appraisal methods have, justifiably, had a bad press. Appraisals were an annual event dreaded by managers and employees alike and nothing ever seemed to happen as a result of them.
Companies are increasingly moving towards enabling more frequent, future-focused discussions between employees and their managers. The meetings usually take place quarterly, and so they are shorter, and the paperwork is kept to a minimum. The emphasis is on the quality of the business conversation and coaching and development rather than a review of past performance.
Mistakes and learning opportunities are addressed in real time and personal objectives remain relevant and support business agility because they are continually reviewed, changed or removed completely in response to alterations in business strategy.
Companies that have moved away from annual appraisals to quarterly reviews or ‘check-ins’ estimate they generate greater returns as a result. Consider taking the following steps to refresh your appraisal process and make it work better for your business:
1. Get senior leaders involved to determine what the business wants to achieve as a result of appraisals and the process that will deliver these results.
2. Use appraisals to develop employees by agreeing practical steps they can take to reach the next level or perform better in their current role.
3. Train managers to give better feedback, to handle difficult conversations, and to coach their direct reports to continually develop.
4. Simplify the process by making the paperwork very simple and easy to use.
5. Separate appraisals from salary reviews to encourage open conversations.
6. Provide appropriate development opportunities for all employees, including those in ‘the broad middle’ who have no wish to climb the ladder but who need to make a vital contribution day-in, day-out.