The ‘less than’ annual performance appraisal
By Russell Drake
Most Employment Agreements contain a provision stating that “the employee’s performance shall be reviewed at least annually”, however this seldom occurs.
Annual performance appraisals are often a thorn in the side for the Employer and are a sadly disappointing experience for the Employee. The process, if one is implemented at all, often ranges from a friendly chat over a coffee with a general assessment of how the year has gone to a more robust debate around whether specific goals have been attained or not. On many occasions, the annual review is the one time in the year that the Employee receives any specific feedback about their performance from their Manager/Employer.
So why do we get this so wrong?
Most appraisals lack the two key ingredients that are required to ensure that a meaningful outcome is achieved for both parties, this being that:
1. The goals and objectives are not clearly defined and focus more on subjective assessment rather than objective evidence of performance.
2. The process to monitor and review performance is not user friendly.
For a performance appraisal process to be meaningful it must be ‘living’ and it must reflect attributes that directly relate to evidence of success in the Employee’s role. Where these objectives are achieved, the appraisal process becomes an ongoing, monitoring and feedback process throughout the year with the formal appraisal meeting, then focusing more on final outcome assessment and future goal setting. Paper based systems seldom achieve these objectives as they can easily be pushed into the background as the year unfolds having to be dusted off for one special day each year – by which time the parties to the review have long forgotten what they had documented as goals at the commencement of that period. In many cases, even where goals had been set, changes in the Employee’s role or the business operations during the period have now made the paper-based goals irrelevant.
Modern electronic based appraisal processes are designed to provide an easily accessible goal setting and monitoring process that can be updated throughout the year as changes to roles and business operations occur. Where an Employee can directly input evidence and data into a system on an ongoing basis, with the Manager/Employer also doing this on a regular basis, the system can maintain an accurate assessment profile of the Employee to enable all parties to know whether the Employees performance is on track (towards desired goal achievement) or not. As the appraisal process is ‘living’ the stress of having to conduct a one-off review meeting is eliminated with that process becoming more of a positive experience for each party.
From an Employer or Team Manager perspective, the electronic based appraisal process enables easy and on-going tracking across all team members to identify those who are meeting their performance objectives and those who are not. This assists in developing early intervention strategies to attempt to bring the lower performing Employees back into line before the deficit becomes too great.
We now can offer an appraisal system which offers all the above, taking the headache out of doing appraisals and offering a ‘living’ process which can be used effectively in managing your staff. Contact us if you would like to know more about CORNERSTONE.
The Employer File is written by Russell Drake, of Russell Drake Consulting Ltd., Specialist Employment Relations Consultants who act exclusively for Employers - see www.russelldrakeconsulting.co.nz or phone (07) 838 0018.