There has been a shift over the years in the way the performance appraisal is conducted, particularly in the frequency of discussions, leading to a more meaningful experience for both manager and employee.
Annual performance appraisals of the past
Historically, performance appraisals were conducted annually and the scheduled appraisal meeting was often met with last minute panic and anxiety, accompanied by sweaty palms and heart palpitations.
Not only was the meeting itself shrouded in negative connotations, the overall process was often undermined if the employee had poorly developed KPIs and little understanding of how their role contributed to the business success. In addition, employees often doubted their leader’s ability to provide appropriate feedback; and may have had doubts about the fairness and subjectivity of the process, resulting in an overall sense of dread.
For other employees, particularly high achieving employees who are driven by success, the performance appraisal is viewed as a positive experience; an opportunity to showcase their achievements and successes. Stretch targets and challenging goals motivate, and there is clear alignment between individual contribution, the strategic business goals and the overall success of the organisation.
Providing appropriate feedback throughout the performance year removes the ‘surprise’ element that employees often experienced. In the absence of continuous and meaningful feedback throughout the year, employees not performing to their full potential were often unaware and surprised to receive the feedback and as a consequence their annual salary review was impacted in a negative way.
Typically, the performance appraisal process fed into the decisions about the way employees were rewarded. Employees whose performance exceeded expectations were recognised with development opportunities, bonuses or salary increases, whilst those who only met expectations would be lucky to receive a portion of the recommended CPI increase. Whether either scenario influenced employees’ motivation and engagement levels or improved performance is debatable but this black and white approach did lead to changes in the way organisations conduct performance appraisals.
Benefits of real time feedback
Real time feedback is immediate and easy to share and has many benefits to an organisation including:
- Leads to an open and transparent culture where honest feedback is welcomed.
- Employees are provided the opportunity to immediately modify and address performance issues leading to improved employee performance.
- Overall leads to a more talented and engaged and motived workforce.
- The increased frequency of the real time data captured in the system provides better performance data to be analysed and reported on.
- Less time is spent preparing for the annual performance review.
- Employees are more engaged and motivated.
- New employees become more productive more quickly, improving the onboarding experience.
- Removes the surprise element and creates a more balanced scorecard when rewarding performance.
Real time feedback promotes meaningful interactions throughout the performance year and is a much richer and sustainable experience for both leader and employee.
The daunting performance appraisal of old is now a constructive conversation between colleagues. It’s an opportunity to check-in, review, re-align, reset expectations and collegially plan for the year ahead.
Article by Mandy Kuba, first published in Business News, 10 June 2019
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