Performance appraisals are always time bound activity.
In most of the organizations, performance appraisals are also associated with salary revisions and it is important to complete the performance appraisal before the salary revisions are due.
Performance appraisals are also an opportunity for managers and employees to take stock at the performance, progress, etc.
So, it is important to balance both objectives. This can be done easily through the 6 step process:
Step 1: Define a good, simple performance review forms
It is important to define a simple and easy to use performance review forms.
Make sure that the following components are part of your forms.
These components can provide directions for the employees on the sense of purpose (of work), competencies they should exhibit, development plan, etc.
- Goals (associate it with their job description)
- Technical Competencies required for doing the work
- Soft skills (behavioural skills, core values)
- Development plan
It is important NOT to over-engineer these by several questions. Following are some of the best practices:
- Contain the number of questions in each section to be 4-5 items.
- Depending on the levels/role, have weightings associated with goals and competencies. Typically, at entry level, people will have a higher weight on competencies. As the levels go higher, goals will be number driven & weight for goals will be higher.
- Publish clear guidelines for the manager on how they can rate their team members on the goals, competencies, etc. Generally, companies follow a 4- or 5-point rating scale. Publishing clear guidelines will reduce subjectivity and also increase consistency across managers.
Step 2: Define a proper, meaningful workflow
Performance appraisal is a workflow-based process:
- Manager’s assessment & Peer assessment
- Dept Head approval
- HR Normalization & approval
- CFO approval on the salary revisions
- One-to-one communication between manager and team member
Here also, it is important to keep the workflow simple and that will fit your organization. Choose what will make sense for your organization. Some of the best practices are:
- Keep the workflow steps less and keep it straight forward.
- Do not have too many dependencies in the process. For example, introduce peer assessments only if it is required.
- Empower managers so that they take responsibility for communicating both good/challenging situations to their team members. Managers should own the findings/final results.
- Make sure you publish a schedule for running the performance appraisals and workflow stages. For example, all managers should complete their feedback by so and so date.
Step 3: Automate these through a performance management software
Performance appraisal is an intense number crunching exercise.
Final reports are going to be used for multiple purposes: talent planning, coming up with training schedules, salary revisions, etc.
Conducting performance appraisals for 100s and 1000s of people take a significant amount of time, follow-ups, crunching the ratings and score, normalization, etc.
You cannot do these manually.
It is easier to do these through performance management software. Softwares like Synergita can help in automating the performance appraisals.
Some of the important points to consider while choosing your performance management software are:
- The software should be simple and easy to use. You don’t want to complicate the process with poor user experience and interface.
- You may have multiple feedback forms (for different levels, different departments). And, you may also have multiple workflows depending on how you have defined. Your software should be able to accommodate these multiple feedback forms and workflows.
- The software should be able to provide you with a good set of reports and analytics.
Step 4: Prepare your Managers
Performance appraisals are a difficult process for a manager and employee.
A lot of preparations are required from both ends to make it meaningful and achieve the intended objective -> which is employee development.
It is important to equip the managers for this preparation.
Communication and training are key. Few tips on this:
- Start the communication earlier before you start the actual appraisal process.
- Conduct a few workshops for multiple managers on how to prepare for the appraisals, how to conduct the appraisals with their team members, etc.
- Managers should be aware of the importance of this exercise.
Step 5: Publish a schedule for the appraisal
It is important to have a clear communication process established within the organization about the appraisals.
Also, have a clear schedule established.
This will help in completing the appraisals on time. Few tips on this:
- Typically, performance appraisal (start to end) should be a maximum of 3-4 weeks. If it is more than that, people will lose the seriousness in the process. Also, start the cycle slightly before the end of the review period/year end. That way, you have better visibility over the past year and also plan for the next year.
- Identify an owner for this process & make sure that he/she is empowered.
- Use multiple channels to communicate the schedule to all employees. You can communicate through posters, desktop calendars, emails, townhall meetings, etc.
- Use regular follow-ups with the managers: Remind the managers periodically on the progress, work to be done, etc. Synergita has an auto-follow-up mechanism to follow with the employees and managers on their pending activities. This will reduce the workload for HR in follow-ups.
- Have a clear progress status of the appraisals: Make sure that you look at the progress on a daily basis. Synergita provides the feedback process status through a dashboard and detailed report. This will be helpful for HR to know where the status is & if required, take necessary actions.
Step 6: Come up with a clear follow-up plans post appraisals
Once the appraisals are completed, it is important to analyse and have a clear plan established to meet the promises made to employees, defining the training workshops, etc.
Make sure that you have a follow-up mechanism to review the progress on these.
This will reinforce the confidence of the employees that the organization cares.
Once again, performance appraisals should not be just looked as post-mortem exercise.