Is it really the end of Performance Reviews

Performance Reviews, what a popular topic talked about amongst HR professionals at the moment.  In fact, to be honest it is one that has been talked about for decades amongst HR professionals - we just didn’t have social media back then to tell everyone what we thought.  So really the news is nothing new.   Because of this and the time of year, people probably avoided performance reviews prior to Christmas or just simply didn’t get a chance beforehand and so are having to commence the New Year with performance reviews.

I’m not buying into it completely though and before you throw your performance review process out the window, think about it.

For employees it can be horrible, sometimes unfair or just not conducted effectively and to be honest I think due to the formality it is difficult for the Manager as well even when the relationship and performance is positive.  It’s just tough!  But we still do them, although, now starting to do it differently.

2,500 organisations across 90 countries have been surveyed by Deloitte recently.  This survey revealed 8% of companies believed their performance management process drove high levels of value, while 58% felt their process was ‘not an effective use of time’.  The 8% are obviously doing it right!

I think part of the problem is that performance reviews are not done regularly enough and that they are used for multi-purposes such as; to develop training plans, remuneration reviews, succession planning, culture (assessing behaviours), assess performance (against KPIs), gaining feedback having to communicate with staff about them, their career, their job and the organisation.  That’s a lot of ground to cover.

Managers still need to review performance and discuss this with individuals; good leaders will do this regardless of a system.  Managers should have regular conversations and again, good leaders will do this regardless of a system.  And really I believe the same, with all of the uses listed above – good leaders will do it regardless of a formal performance appraisal system.

A lot of organisations such as Adobe, Expedia, Motorola, Kelly Services and Microsoft have started to take different approaches however and there are opinions out there about how they think they should be done.  I think however the important thing to remember here though is that we need to stop applying a blanket approach on issues.  ‘Best practise’ may not be best practise for all organisations so businesses need to work out what the best approach is for them based on their culture, goals etc.  So, yet it requires a different approach but a different approach for different organisations and it shouldn’t be the end of performance appraisals as performance still needs to be measured and reviewed - in some way.

I also understand why some businesses are no longer using a performance rating but a measurement of some sort is required but it is also interesting with the recent focus on big data and measurement of HR.

Also interesting was Aon Hewitt’s latest leadership research which indicated that the top companies – set performance expectations, had performance discussions, give feedback, gather performance ratings, reward based on performance, develop development plans and seek feedback – isn’t that performance appraisal?  Maybe it is the way it is done is the question?!

But you know, difficult conversations still need to be had and we can’t get around that.  If someone is not performing – due to action, inaction or behaviour, a discussion needs to be had (refer to a previous blog - talk, it’s not rocket science).

I also don’t believe it’s about a process either, it’s about culture and leadership – without these two things the process won’t be undertaken, no matter what the process is.  A culture that understands there are business goals and thatperformance expectations and individual roles contribute to those business goals.

Performance Appraisals should be different for every business, listen to the feedback and work with your people to determine a way for it to work for your business.  Maybe it is a variety of activities to ensure the information required for various reasons is still sought.

 

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