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Appraisals and why Once a Year is Not Enough

January is a good time to look at things anew – and this month we take a look at sorting out the appraisal process, or you may refer to it as a review process.

Speak to many people – employees and managers – about the annual appraisal and you’ll be met with sighs, muttering and often downright mutiny.

Many people consider the whole appraisal process as a waste of valuable work time, an interruption of their working day, and a pointless box-ticking activity.

Yet the theory behind the appraisal process is a good one – it allows both parties to discuss performance, look at ways to improve productivity, employee engagement and company morale, and can encourage employee engagement – if it is done in the right way.

However, many of the big companies are now scrapping the annual review and turning instead to real-time feedback. Accenture, one of the biggest companies in the world, did just that in 2016 – a massive task considering the 394,000 people involved – as did accounting giant Deloittes.

These organisations have come to the conclusion that the money, time and effort involved did not achieve what it should – that is, better productivity from employees and in turn improved profits for the company.

Instead, these organisations have opted for a ‘little and often’ system, where ongoing feedback is provided after assignments. Small businesses can learn from this, as the big businesses have already done the research!

Is this something you could implement?

It is becoming apparent that having a meeting once a year is not the way. This allows far too much time for anger or resentment to simmer before the employee or manager has a chance to address an issue – be it performance or conduct.

If there are problems with performance, they should be raised when an issue comes to light, not further down the line. There should be ample opportunity for comments about staff’s performance, strengths and weaknesses and discussion of progress throughout the year.

Weekly check-ins are used by many firms now – this could be as simple as a five-minute chat in the corridor after a presentation. It is so important to make dedicated time to speak to your staff. Everyone is busy and oft times staff do not want to ‘worry’ a busy manager and hence ‘molehills become mountains’.

Any sort of appraisal should allow for the staff member to discuss their own ambitions, what training they need, how they feel about their job and if they have any concerns.

If you still plan to use appraisal forms, when they make their way back to HR they should be used as a tool – not filed away to tick a box! It can be used to get a feel for employee morale, the sort of training and changes staff would benefit from, and to identify ways to help employees progress within the company.

Technology and social media have even been introduced by some firms to assist in their feedback system. PwC for example, uses a mobile app called Snapshot. This allows its employees to ask managers or peers to assess them in five areas: business acumen, global acumen, technical capability, leadership skills and relationships. They will be told if they are meeting, exceeding or falling short of expectations.

In our always-on society, where changes take place frequently, information is available at the touch of a button, and where we are used to getting what we need in seconds, it makes sense that appraisals should also happen frequently, with regular updates.

If you would like to discuss how you can update your appraisal system, or have a chat about your general HR requirements, please contact Cecily Lalloo at Embrace HR.

T: 07767 308717 or send a message.

Based in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, Embrace HR supports business owners who do not have their own HR department or those that do but need help from time to time. We also work across the Home Counties of Oxfordshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, and also SMEs based in London.