Posted in : HR Updates on 14 May 2012
Nicola Shaw
Issues covered:

Nicola Shaw writes:

I know this is a familiar topic for us all, but as we are now in the midst of our full appraisal cycle, I thought it appropriate to revisit this important topic.

1. Ownership

My first observation is that appraisals should not be owned by HR. What if they are? My view is that you are fighting a losing battle. Why? If Managers and team members view the process as “something HR do” they are unlikely to buy into it and fully commit. Ultimately, such an approach will make a mockery of the whole process and create even more of a headache for us.

Therefore, it is important to educate everyone within your organisation on the benefits of appraisals – both for the Line Manager and for the team member – so that it becomes an accepted and respected part of your organisational culture.

2. Benefits of a Line Manager

  • Motivating your team;
  • Providing constructive and detailed feedback to enhance performance;
  • Opportunity to gauge areas of interest, career development, etc;
  • Agreement on objectives, milestones and training needs; and
  • Formal, documented record to refer to an ongoing basis.

3. Benefits for Team Member

  • Feedback on your job performance;
  • Acknowledgement/confirmation of a job well done; and/or
  • Specific examples of how you could have done better and suggestions on how to improve;
  • Opportunity to have your say if there are work areas in which you would like to get involved, or training you feel would be relevant and of benefit to you; and
  • Agreement on the way forward, including how you will be assessed against your objectives.

4. Farce

The entire process becomes a farce when the feedback and objectives are not implemented/”lived out”, and/or where false promises are made. This means people do not twist the integrity of the process and see it as a pointless paper-pushing exercise.

For example, if you advise that salary reviews are directly linked to job performance as assessed through the appraisal process, you need to follow through on this e.g. a poor performer should not get a salary increase; and a strong performer should not get a poor salary increase. This undermines the process and sends out mixed messages.

5. Role of HR

  • Culture  – Work with your Senior Team to ensure your organisational culture is one of openness and effective two-way communications.
  • Education – Ensure everyone involved in the process understands the importance of appraisals and commits fully to it. Time needs to be set aside for it and it should not be rushed.
  • Support – In your role as HR, ensure people know you are available to answer queries, provide guidance and clarify any ambiguities. This is especially important in ensuring difficult messages are not shied away from and are effectively communicated. 
  • Reporting – Track the process, know key dates and keep an accurate record of who meets these and use this information to compile reports on scoring curve, trends by Department, grade, etc, as required.

6. Final Thought

Consistency, fairness and transparency are the cornerstones of working in HR and this applies to the appraisal process and those people leading it and participating in it just as much as to us. No mean feat, I appreciate, but sure, we are fit for the challenge!

This article is correct at 09/11/2015

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Nicola Shaw

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