Love or loathe them, performance reviews can be a powerful tool for fostering the growth and engagement of your team as well as contributing to company culture and productivity. Overtime however, they can become routine or stale and lose their impact. If you are hearing a collective sigh when you announce “it’s time for your performance review” then you need some new thinking, and that starts with asking for feedback.
Performance reviews or appraisals need to be customised to suit the unique needs of your business – customer facing staff who are highly motivated (and remunerated) based on specific targets may require a higher frequency of reviews, whereas some businesses may opt for a more streamlined process, for example smaller teams where performance conversations, albeit informal, are happening more regularly. While review methods and approaches can vary greatly between businesses, it is a human resource ‘process’ that can be critiqued and refined to ensure its continued effectiveness.
The fact that performance reviews are closely linked to remuneration decisions, further reinforces the criticality of getting it right. While the actual review itself should not be a discussion about pay, it is an opportunity to establish a shared understanding about an individual’s past performance, which contributes to future remuneration conversations.
As well as ensuring that your performance reviews are fit for purpose, regular audits (or reviews) of the effectiveness of your process is absolutely fundamental from a DE&I perspective. If performance reviews play a key part in remuneration decisions (which they do), then you want to ensure that bias is not creeping in. If your business is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) then you really need to better understand if your team are comfortable with the quality and fairness of their experience.
Just like the performance review itself, the way you evaluate your process will differ between businesses. As a starter, you are seeking feedback on the effectiveness of the process, everything from the frequency of reviews and method used to obtain information, through to delving into the language used or phrasing of questions or the way feedback is received and communicated. And more broadly, deeper qualitative insights into transparency and employee trust in the process.
Once you have received feedback on your review process, it’s time to act on it. Chances are you will be making some changes which could include for example, implementing training for your people leaders on ways to better conduct reviews and having performance conversations, through to improving the way you gather feedback (self-review, mutli rater feedback like 360-degree etc).
Be prepared to make some bold changes including revamping your entire process and introducing reliable HR software to streamline what you’re doing, or completely redesigning the performance review process, possibly even eliminating it all together. Afterall, the purpose of a performance review is to receive accurate and timely feedback on performance and engender constant learning and engagement. Whatever performance review process your company adopts, if it’s not achieving this, then it is time for change. And perhaps one day, your team may learn to love performance reviews.
Our highly skilled consultants advise our clients on all employment matters but if you are looking for support on how to ensure your performance review strategy is fit for purpose and builds a culture that recognises and rewards growth, contact us today.
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