In many organizations, performance management today has come to mean a tedious and time-consuming process that both parties just wanted to get done with, instead of treating it with the importance it deserves. This is in large part to the way performance management programs are carried out in organizations, with the annual exercise forcing people to take time away from their tasks to complete long questionnaires about different aspects that they barely remember.
Managers have also come to hate the process as it involves them getting stuck into the responses to come up with some insights that will help them evaluate employees. The result is that, in this administrative babble, the proves goes for a toss, that is, the actual objectives are not achieved. So, there is a need to take a step back and take a deeper look at whether performance management is really working, or if it is just a waste of time and effort, not to mention money. Some aspects of this have been covered in this article but we will extend the discussion in this post.
Performance appraisals happen annually in most organizations. While this is understandable, given the effort that goes into an appraisal, this really might not be the best way to do it at all. Between one appraisal and another, managers themselves lose track of goals and KPIs, not to mention the employees, and in the daily hustle, these go onto the back burner. Further, when new employees join after the performance appraisal, we would have to wait till the next appraisal to really understand their performance. Instead, why not conduct appraisals more frequently to understand performance better and in a timelier manner? If it is too much effort to do a complete appraisal, how about creating a program that covers the essentials and that which acts as data collection mechanism for the year-end appraisal? Yes, you might have to devote some resources, but with HR software and performance management software, you can get all of this done faster and more conveniently.
Constant and consistent feedback
Feedback, or the lack of it, is one of the fundamental issues with performance management. Even after spending so much and going through appraisal cycles, the result will not show if feedback is not provided to employees on how to develop themselves and how to contribute more towards organizational goals. Performance programs are carried out, people get their ratings and bonuses, and all things go back to normal. There is no meaningful feedback provided nor are people interested in doing so. Then what was the purpose of the entire exercise? Therefore, make it a point to provide timely and actionable feedback to employees, and record these so that you can evaluate them in the next appraisal on the same.
Goal-setting is one of the more important parts of performance management which unfortunately no one really cares about. Everyone knows how to do their daily tasks, and they just get on with it. And it is not their fault too – the organizational goals sound too lofty and high for mere employees, and instead of thinking about all of this, they find their time is better spent in worrying about their tasks. Therefore, it is nice to have some hard-hitting goals, but is it essential that these goals are percolated down to employees. They should clearly understand what these goals are about and why attaining them is important for the organization. Further, they should understand that it is not just some CEO or VP who achieves these goals – it is them, all of them working together. Only then will organizational goals have real meaning and purpose. Therefore, be careful in the goals you choose, and ensure that these goals are being understood by all your employees so that they can play their own parts in achieving them.
Feedback is one aspect of communication the wider aspect of communication also needs to improve drastically for appraisals to be more effective. For the most part, employees and managers work in their own silos, in the quest to meet their own targets, and this is also reflected in appraisals. Everyone seeks to complete appraisals and go back to work but not many really understand the significance of the whole process and work towards making it a success. What’s lacking is communication – the parties need to understand the importance of appraisals. They should be told how the process could help them, and how it is not a hinderance from their daily tasks. Also, all aspects of communication need to be clear and concise.
Also, with appraisals, it is essential that you encourage employees and managers to be frank with their communication. There is no place for pretence in appraisals – the whole exercise rests on all the stakeholders being honest in communication.
A process that reflects organizational needs
In appraisals, how you measure is just as important as what you measure. You want to measure employee performance, fine, but how do you break this down? How do you come up with the necessary parameters to quantify this necessarily qualitative aspect? This is where you need to focus on how you are going to go about the process. Most importantly, the process should reflect organizational needs. It should measure what is essential to be measured; if it is important that goals be achieved in a timely manner, the parameters should have a time component; if creativity or innovation are the goals, new products and developments should be the parameters of evaluation. Therefore, ensure that the process reflects organizational needs instead of generic evaluations.
Technology & Analytics
Lastly, one sure way to improve performance management in organizations is to make extensive use of technology including analytics. One of the broken things about performance management in organizations is that a whole lot of data is collected, but this data is not often put to any use. Since the process mandates, surveys and questionnaires are done, but that really is not useful when you have no way to effectively evaluate these responses so that you can see patterns that will help you make important decisions regarding bonuses and promotions.
With performance management software or the more comprehensive online HR software solution, you will be able to manage appraisals and feedback effectively. The software will assist you in setting up appraisals, in data collection, and also data management and analysis. All in all, it is like a personal assistant that does you most tedious tasks for you. Further, the software also helps in communication. Not only does it inform all the employees that it is tome for them to fill in their appraisal forms but it also keeps sending them reminder periodically till they do so. As HR professionals know, no one completes appraisals in time – they need to be continuously reminded to do so. With the software, you don’t have to waste your time on this. The automation built into the software will ensure that employees are in a way hounded till they complete their appraisal-related tasks.
With its analytics engine, you can easily evaluate the responses, and sort your analyses automatically. The software will help generate reports that can be easily understood by all the stakeholders and will help them in taking decisions. There is a lot of flexibility in choosing the kind of appraisal systems you want to implement, the metrics and parameters you want to evaluate employees on, and how to go about data collection. It is a sure way to make you whole performance management process more meaningful and effective.