Good, bad or indifferent: no matter the size of the organisation there will undoubtedly be some form of appraisal system in place.
The ultimate purpose of an appraisal system is to improve the performance of employees and to enhance the productivity of individuals and teams for the good of the organisation and the individual’s personal development and job satisfaction.
Why are some leading companies threatening to abandon appraisals?
There has been an abundance of coverage recently on the role of the traditional appraisal system in modern organisations.
Many high-profile city organisations have been abandoning the formal annual feedback session in place of regular, informal one-to-one meetings throughout the entire year.
If you were to read the headlines alone, you could be lead to believe that appraisals are a thing of the past. However, read on and you will see that this is far from the truth.
Indeed, the traditional performance management model is simply evolving to stay relevant as large city organisations move away from the annual or six monthly reviews in place of more frequent and less formalised continuous feedback.
Case study: Wenta
At Wenta, we are currently in the process of innovating our appraisal system.
Being a small organisation of under 50 employees, we have often looked to larger, more structured organisations in pursuit of improving our internal systems and processes. With significant developments occurring at Wenta including a new long-term strategy, a restructure and the recent appointment of a new CEO, now is the perfect time for us to look at our appraisal system to see if it is fit for purpose.
We set up a Performance Management Focus Group (PMFG) to start looking at, and redefining, the systems and processes that support our greatest asset; our people.
Historically within Wenta, we have had various appraisal systems running across different teams using different documentation. This is not ideal for a small organisation with less than 50 staff who regularly work across a number of teams, so the decision has been made to develop and implement one appraisal system that would reflect our goal to work as one team. This will serve to increase our efficiency and encourage consistency across all areas of Wenta.
To ensure the success of this project, we understood the importance of getting buy-in, support and input from staff.
In order to achieve this we formed the PMFG which was made up of a cross section of staff (13% in total) from a diverse range of teams.
The first meeting of The Group was a brainstorming session which looked very closely at the way we currently appraise our staff and the improvements that could be made to enable us to manage, develop and motivate our staff more effectively.
1. Having two different systems within one organisation does not make sense and there should be a process whereby all staff are appraised in the same way against similar criteria with the same rating structure – consistency across Wenta.
2. It was felt we do not provide feedback regularly enough and it is not always given constructively or consistently across all teams. Sometimes, the process can feel like a paper tick box exercise without any real meaning to it.
3. We are striving to link all the documentation together. Team KPIs should be set which would filter down into individual objectives. The one-to-one documentation should link into the mid-year and annual appraisal.
4. Training at all levels is paramount with both employees and managers at every level participating fully to ensure the success of a new appraisal system.
5. Equally important is to ensure the correct tools are in place. An example is the documentation that is to be put in place, this should have clear instructions, guidance notes, an even numbered rating system to avoid ‘sitting on the fence syndrome’ with clear definitions aligned to each rating.
The Group's subsequent meetings have been discussing the tools and documentation that should be used to ensure the above outcomes were met. A first draft appraisal form has been created, analysed and critiqued. This document is currently being tweaked folling input from all members of the PMFG.
• Guidance Notes are being drafted along with example objectives for all levels of staff
• We have undertaken a review of every individual’s job description to ensure it is accurate and up to date
• Training workshops are being designed and will be rolled out for all staff in June
• We are communicating with staff via our company intranet so they are being kept informed every step of the way
• An appraisal Policy/Procedure will be incorporated into our employee handbook
Our Desired Outcome
By Summer 2017 we plan to have a One Wenta performance management system in place which will continuously facilitate good people management practice, including learning and development, measurement of performance and organisational development.
The Wenta Case study is an example of how to implement a new system with buy-in from across an organisation. By changing and adapting to new ways of thinking and new management theories, organisations can ensure that their management practices are up-to-date and that employees are given the best possible environment within which to thrive.
The way we decided to tackle our appraisal system may not be perfect for your organisation or small business. At the end of the day, no matter what the most recent management theory may be, it is important to ensure that your system works for your people.