Let’s paint what might be a familiar picture. It’s one week before the big annual event, the one that always causes a flurry of activity and anticipation in the office, yes - it’s appraisal and review time. It’s a time when your employees are scrambling to collate evidence against the KPI’s you created on generic appraisal forms almost a year ago, and where you find yourself pulling your hair out wondering why on earth you didn’t review the KPI’s regularly over the last 12 months (which you’ve deduced, without too much effort, was down to other more important things on your business priorities list). In short, it’s panic time. But, as luck would have it, you, and most of your employees survive, safe in the knowledge that there’s at least another 350 days till the panic starts to build again.
We are all acutely aware of the flaws of traditional appraisal, but with most companies grappling with resource and time pressures it’s often all too tempting to maintain the status quo. If you’re considering doing more than vowing to do better this year and thinking about introducing a smarter appraisal and performance process, here are 5 things you absolutely need to ensure you have in place ...
1. Get buy-in for your vision.
Even if you think your idea has the potential to become the smartest appraisal system on the block, you’re unlikely to get it off the ground without commitment from the key stakeholders in the business. Before engaging the wider business you should be able to clearly articulate (and evidence) why a smarter way of working will make a meaningful difference to the business.
2. Avoid a "paint over the cracks" approach.
A rehash or a superficial refresh of old appraisal processes is unlikely to engage employees disillusioned with existing approaches. A great appraisal and review system can make a huge difference to staff motivation and performance – we’d highly recommend you first throw out all preconceptions and the “this is the way we’ve always done it” thinking, then get the crayons out and start with a fresh canvas, looking at what your business really needs.
3. Build in regular coaching and feedback.
Successfully aligning an employee with the goals of the business requires a mechanism for regular coaching and two-way feedback. If you’re considering using technology to support your new processes then you also have to ask questions about how the technology could bolster (not hinder) this two-way dialogue. This need for regular monitoring, review, and feedback becomes even more important if your business operates in a field subject to rapid change.
4. Implement ongoing "bite-size" review.
Nobody can be expected to “judge” a year of work and employee effort in a single sitting, yet the traditional appraisal demands exactly that of its often already overstretched managers - even the more forgiving quarterly reviews can fill even the best managers with dread. We know that a continual review process where managers can discuss performance goals and offer feedback in a timely manner, better supports the employee, the manager, and the business in achieving the shared goals.
5. The right technology.
Even with stakeholder buy-in, careful design, and the right processes, you’re unlikely to see the results you need without a helping hand from technology. In today's fast-paced world, the use of technology is pretty much a given when it comes to creating a smarter appraisal system. There are many factors to take into account when deciding on the right technology, but first and foremost you need to be asking whether it's robust and reliable, supports any device, anywhere working, and is versatile enough to be customised to meet the individual requirements of your business and its employees.