A Smart HR's Guide To Improve Your Performance Appraisal Process

Psst…Your Performance Appraisal Process Could Be Much Better

Jeremy Francis

January 16th, 2019 HR Process   Performance Management  

Every seasoned HR expert insists that the performance appraisal process, or performance review process, is crucial to your organization’s success–while everyone else involved dismiss it altogether! HR pros, armed with new research, insist that it can make processes much more efficient, while the others argue that it gets in the way of ‘real work’.

Performance Appraisal process

A good, streamlined employee appraisal process undeniably boosts your company’s productivity. With the right performance management strategies, you can combat high employee turnover rates, low engagement, absenteeism, and even low ROIs.

You desperately need to evaluate and change your employee performance appraisal process.

If you’re looking to improve (or even overhaul) your performance management system, it helps to get back to the roots–what ‘performance appraisal’ means, and how it works.

What is a performance appraisal process?

A performance appraisal process is how you keep track of each employee’s abilities, strengths, shortcomings, and contributions to the workforce. It often determines worker compensations and promotions. For upper management and HR execs, a performance review validates the effectiveness of the hiring process. It is also a way of ensuring employee growth and communication between the employee and the employer.

Now that we’ve established what the performance evaluation is, let’s delve into the performance appraisal process itself.

How the performance appraisal process works

Often, the performance evaluation only happens once a year, or once every 6 months. The employee and HR executive or upper management go into a separate ‘performance review’ room. After a couple of polite nods, hellos and awkward comments about the coffee, the actual performance appraisal process begins.

Employee and manager sit face to face, the manager behind a wall of paperwork (metaphorical and physical!). The performance review most often revolves around the last few weeks of work the employee has done. Perhaps the HR executive knows a couple of outstanding achievements, but it’s most likely that all the information they have is a last-minute form the employee hastily filled out, and another that their boss also hastily filled out a little before that.

Not exactly the formula for great employee evaluation, is it?

It’s no surprise that 45% of HR industry leaders themselves are against the idea of an annual review. In fact, the whole employee evaluation process needs to be reconsidered, and hopefully revamped as well.

There’s something wrong with performance appraisals today

Most performance appraisal methods, if we’re being honest, simply aren’t as good as they need to be.

This is why some participants simply go through the motions, and the mere term ‘performance evaluation’ leaves a bad taste in their mouth. Further, poor funding for rewards and appraisals mean that there’s not much ‘in it’ for the average employee.

Here’s how Peter Cappelli (Ranked fifth on HR Most Influential 2012 Top 20 International Thinker) puts it: “Performance appraisals, the evaluation of an employee’s job performance over the previous period by one’s supervisor, are a standard practice in virtually every organization. They are one of the most important, time-consuming, and unpopular tasks in management.”

Deloitte recently realized that they were losing 2 million hours each year to performance reviews. Their key to breaking this rut, is the same thing that will break yours: change

Improving the performance appraisal process

The main complaint about the annual performance process is that, while it is supposed to provide vision and clarity to both employer and employee—it is rather short-sighted in practice.

Companies like Deloitte, Adobe and Cargill all recently scrapped their respective annual performance appraisal process. Even General Electric scrapped its 30-year-old annual performance management policy called ‘the vitality curve’. They probably got the idea when the policy famously started getting called the ‘rank and yank’ policy—not a sign of employee satisfaction!

All these policies were scrapped in favor of continuous communication between employees and their superiors. As is the case with most policy updates today, most of these changes leveraged technology. For example, Jelly Belly (the popular US company that makes jelly beans) moved their employee evaluation efforts to an app-based system. Jeff Brown, the company’s head of HR, highlighted the tech angle: “It allows us to standardize competencies across job classifications, add signature and comment sections to make our process more interactive, and increase accessibility for remote managers.”

1. Choose the Right Frequency

Most workers would like to receive much more frequent feedback than the one they are already getting. Employees love to hear what they did right or not so great on a certain project right after it’s over. This kind of timely feedback stays with them and they are more likely to tweak their performance for the next big project. This is why choosing the right performance review frequency is essential.

A performance appraisal that happens as rarely as employees’ birthdays isn’t the best option for provisioning continuous feedback, which takes us to the next suggestion.

2. Keep It Objective

Nearly 10 percent of employees and 17 percent of managers believe that biases affect performance reviews.

The performance appraisal process needs to be 100 percent objective and unbiased for every single person in the enterprise. A performance review template that is circulated by an automated app and based on clear and measurable metrics guarantees the highest level of transparency.

3. Align It with Organizational Goals

The best performance appraisals are goal-oriented rather than just dwelling on measuring an employee’s worth. This way, you’re setting the context for the feedback that workers are receiving.

4. Encourage Employee Participation

Wrapping up an employee appraisal form is just the first part of the process. The steps that you decide to take equipped with the collected form data are far more critical. Encourage them to ask questions and listen to their feedback. When managers and their teams are open to communicating with each other about problematic issues, you are paving ways to create a corporate culture based on the foundation of great trust.

5. Use Technology

An old-school performance appraisal template isn’t really a serious tool when it comes to modern workplaces. Take the digital route and select the right technology to automate your employee performance appraisal process.

Speaking of technology’s role in performance management process…

Automating employee performance appraisal process efforts

Studies indicate that 48% of companies don’t really do anything to measure improved productivity. To address this—and join the smarter 52%—switch to a performance appraisal model that puts an emphasis on regular, meaningful interactions that focus on the employee’s prowess, and areas to improve.

To keep things effective across the organisation, take a bean out of Jelly Belly’s jar, and go digital. Employee evaluation efforts take a step towards true efficiency when you turn to technology: modern apps and HR automation tools can help your company take this step.

With an automated performance appraisal process, flexibility is the name of the game. Your HR professionals can keep track of the metrics that are watched, and figure out which ones are key. By syncing apps, juggling process data, and keeping an eye on the larger scheme of things, they can work together on what truly matters—addressing issues like high employee turnover rates, low engagement, absenteeism, and a low overall ROI.

Take Kissflow HR Cloud, for instance. It is designed to keep large, complex and repetitive tasks off your hands. And employee evaluation fits right into that bracket. A dependable tech solution like this can take over the taskmaster role, and assure thorough, meaningful and effective performance appraisals across the board!

A performance management system that works like clockwork, with literally zero staff dedicated to ensure that this happens—the ideal performance review situation, wouldn’t you agree?

Kissflow HR Cloud