Appraisals, in short, are the process in which employees and managers set aside time, usually either once or twice a year to look back on how the individual has performed over this time as well as planning for the time ahead. They take into consideration the views and feedback of the manager and the employee as well as other stakeholders who are involved in the employee’s work. However, many employees feel that they are just a painful exercise used to satisfy management, with some managers feeling exactly the same way.

The standard appraisal process

As a manager, you will undoubtedly have, at the very least, one appraisal to undertake, once a year, although some organisations run these every six months or even quarterly. However, in some cases managers could have dozens to undertake at a time and so this could be seen as a mountainous piece of work on top of the ‘day job’. Each meeting has to be scheduled, time is spent preparing for these meetings, then the appraisal is held and finally, post-appraisal, all outcomes need to be noted and finalised. If you don’t have the luxury of an automated performance management solution in place, you may find you’re still operating in a world filled with paper and documents which makes the appraisal task even trickier.

Standard performance reviews and appraisals can therefore be viewed as a monotonous, paper-pushing, tick-box exercise lacking any real validity.

Integral part of a positive management culture

However, if they form part of wider performance management, then we wholly believe they are, in fact, the key to success. So let us discuss why….

Performance management as a whole, allows business owners and managers to align the long-term goals of the organisation with individual and collective performance through objective setting and should therefore be embedded throughout your organisation, in close collaboration with learning and development. Focusing on developing your employees means you are continually striving for improvement in all areas, helping to fulfil your strategic vision by creating an engaged and motivated environment, which of course results in a more effective and productive workforce. Imperative in today’s ever competitive environment.

So it’s vital that you create an environment whereby you are strategic in the way you manage and embed performance. Your staff should be accountable for their own performance and the continuous improvement of business processes, behaviours and their own development. And, appraisals form part of this process but should also include less formal and less time-consuming sessions to gather general day-to-day feedback.

You shouldn’t be waiting until the end of the year to bring up all the things which have gone right and wrong throughout this time. You should be tackling these items, both positive and negative, as and when they arise and your end of year appraisal should simply be a summary of all of these points – No surprises to either party! Thus enabling both parties to be more forward focused for the remainder of the appraisal, such as future goal setting. Feedback should be given on a continuous, regular and timely basis, because this can often stop negative performance and behaviours in their tracks as well as promoting and enhancing positive behaviours.

You could also incorporate 360 feedback which is a method of performance appraisal which gathers feedback from a number of sources, including peers, direct reports, more senior colleagues and even customers. This variety of feedback can offer line managers a wide-ranging perspective and help to make performance management a more objective and fair process.

As a result, managers and business owners can then allow their staff the freedom to do their job without even a hint of micromanagement. It’s about support, not control. If you trust your employees, in turn they are likely to gain great job satisfaction and exude commitment, which, in turn, will positively affect your bottom line and ensure your company is a fantastic place to work.

Performance management is a continuous cycle and there’s no single best approach. Instead, it should fit with your organisation and your culture, allowing for some flexibility.

Benefits of the appraisal meeting for the appraisee:

  • Opportunity for an uninterrupted discussion with line manager
  • Opportunity to review, achievements, difficulties, development needs and career aspirations
  • Objective planning and target setting for the forthcoming year
  • Opportunity to give feedback to the manager (360 appraisal)
  • They will hopefully walk away with renewed motivation

Benefits to the appraiser & organisation:

  • Promotes alignment of strategic goal with team goals and personal targets
  • Identifies problematic areas
  • Enhances communication with employees
  • Opportunity to review the job description
  • Results in a motivated and engaged workforce
  • Promotes a learning and development culture

So, as you can see from the above discussion, the benefits of the appraisal meeting far outweigh any negatives. In fact, the only negatives come from when the appraisal/performance development review isn’t embedded as part of a wider performance management culture. Yes it can be seen as an arduous task when these items are tackled at a meeting only once or twice a year. However, if it’s a continuous process, it can actually be extremely positive and motivating to all concerned.

Performance reviews can be an annual rigmarole: managers tick boxes, set goals which might bear no real relation to your day job and are disconnected from actual business needs. The best appraisal processes are clearly aligned with commercial business goals and individual targets, often supported by some form of personal development plan owned by the individual too.

If you require any support with your performance development review management/ appraisal process please make sure you contact us on 01453 297557 or email enquiries@peepshr.co.uk.