Performance reviews are an important process in any organisation. Whether you choose to run an informal ‘check-in’ style process or a traditional appraisal process, it is critical to align what the organisation needs with the employees objectives. In this section we look at the different ways you may wish to run a performance management process.
Traditional performance review processes
Traditionally, a performance review process would consist of an annual appraisal. At that meeting, performance would be reviewed against the objectives set at the beginning of the year. There may have been a mid year review where objectives were changed or amended. These processes still exist, especially in larger companies where you need to have a standard system of evaluation. The end grade is often linked to the salary review process. These don’t work as well in smaller companies. The need to be more agile means objectives frequently change. In this case a more informal ‘check in’ process may be beneficial.
Check in performance review processes
Check ins are in essence just a more frequent, less formal way of managing performance. There is still the need for objectives which should still be aligned to organisational priorities. However, instead of having a formal review meeting, the dialogue is monthly or at least quarterly and feedback is provided closer to the event.
Setting performance objectives
The first stage of conducting a performance review is to set objectives. These objectives should be:
- Specific – don’t make them woolly like ‘improve marketing’.
- Measurable – can you actually say if something was successfully achieved or not?
- Achievable – they can be stretching but not unachievable.
- Realistic – does the employee have the skills and resources to achieve this?
- Timebound – it should have an end date for delivery.
Agreeing and reviewing progress against objectives
Whilst it is ultimately the managers decision as to what the objective should be, it is good practice to involve the employee in scoping it. Do they need training or other support? Do they have the necessary equipment? Can the employee think of a better way of achieving the same goal?
Once the objective is signed off, it is important to regularly review progress. If objectives fall away because they are no longer relevant or required, they should be deleted or amended as appropriate. Don’t penalise an employee for something they had no control over.
Positive and negative feedback are important. It is equally important that feedback is constructive. If an employee has done something wrong, explain what happened and how it could have been done better. To err is human, to continually get something wrong though is a problem and may need further training. If all training has been provided, you may need to instigate formal performance management.
Linking performance and reward
Many organisations seek to reward high performance with larger than average salary increases. Whilst this isn’t a problem in itself, you need to be sure that you are moderating the performance assessment. If you have multiple managers, one may rate their team more generously than another. It is therefore good practice to have a second layer of management review ratings before they are confirmed to the employee. Our blog goes into this in more detail.
You may have read in the press that some large companies had stopped using performance ratings. Whilst this may be the case, it doesn’t mean they’ve stopped assessing individual performance.