I recently read an article about annual appraisals in large corporations. It gave me flashbacks of my earliest career years spending hours filling out the performance appraisal form and getting negative feedback on some forgotten project completed earlier in the year.
At that time, I was unsure on how to complete the self-appraisal form and grade my own performance; I hadn’t received any feedback on the projects or ad-hoc tasks that I had done. I had no knowledge on the quality of my work. I wondered why I had to wait until the annual appraisal process to get feedback on stuff that I couldn’t even remember. The review session seemed more like judgment rather than coaching. I wish I had gotten immediate and evidence-based feedback while working on those projects. It would have improved the outcome of the projects.
While providing feedback is crucial, it is nothing more than just information if it doesn’t prompt the employees to change their behaviours. It has to be actionable insights.
From an American survey of 750 HR executives, 58% graded their performance management system as ‘Low’, and only 30% trusted the results; the majority were simply frustrated with their systems.
Furthermore, I have indicated supervisor bias during performance appraisal, leading to organizational inefficiencies and impacting employee morale. It is not surprising then that some companies are scrapping their annual appraisals process, and evolving towards a continuous feedback approach.
“We cannot solve our problem with the same thinking when we created them.” Albert Einstein
Based on discussions and research, I’ve outlined 3 ideas that can propel the concept of continuous performance assessment into practical reality:
1. Giving Immediate Feedback per Work Output
Create a template that captures the key requirements of each work output that is contextualised to the job function. For example, if an administrative staff’s job is to produce reports, you can create a set of attributes that is expected of the report (say, quality, correctness, clearness, timeliness, etc.), and have all stakeholders provide immediate and necessary feedback on these attributes at the point of report submission or publication.
A similar approach can be applied to leadership or partipation in a task force or project. Behaviour attributes and expected performance outcomes such as leadership, strategic thinking, ability to influence, project success, etc. can be immediately captured and assessed by all the stakeholders, and played back to the employee. In this way, the employee can make changes to improve his performance.
2. Create an Employee Relationship Management (ERM) Platform
You will need a system to capture this real-time and continuous feedback for each employee. Much like the process you would use to record customer interactions (e.g. CRM platform). Recording feedback in a centralized and easily-accessible platform is critical otherwise, we run the risk of falling back into the old ritual of annual appraisal.
You may argue that this seems cumbersome for the managers and stakeholders, but the benefits far outweigh the effort since both supervisor and subordinate know where they stand and the process is less affected to recall bias.
Like the CRM systems, we should be using technology to organize, automate, and synchronized feedback based on job attributes and outputs.
3. Make it Fun
Game design could be applied to enhance the effectiveness of continuous performance assessment and make it fun. Employees and supervisor could be set up as ‘players’. They could compete on assessment scores and various attributes to collect points, give awards, receive warnings, gain additional power or ‘lives’. They could compete individually or even in teams, whereby project teamwork could translate into game bonuses. All this can take place in real-time and create a powerful incentive to change behaviour.
The ‘game’ results can then be used as a basis for reasoning, discussion, coaching and development about performance improvement.
Most importantly, the main purpose of gamification is provide a positive effect to improve performance, and employee engagement, wherein we reward the staff for their competencies by motivating rather than demoralizing them.
I would love to hear your feedback and get your thoughts on possible new practices that would significantly improve the practice of performance management, so that it drives business success.
Author: Anny Rosyani, Intern, Red & White Consulting Partners LLP
Image: Founder and Intern Red & White Consulting Partners LLP in a discussion, coaching session and development about performance improvement - "Continuous Performance Assessment "