The Performance Review process often gets ignored in today’s agile operating environments where people change jobs quickly and employees often care more about their industry and peer reputations than they do about company rankings. Many companies have replaced the formal performance review with greater managerial input into daily operations, social media and customer reviews and informal check-ins. However, a formal appraisal still generates many critical benefits such as determining salary raises, promotional opportunities and candidates for more advanced training and succession planning.
Curating the Performance Review Process
Regardless of whether your organisation is new to the performace review process, returning to it after a lapse or reorganising its review strategies, it’s important to identify the performance management roles and responsibilities and ensure the plans include everyone involved – such as employees, managers, senior executives and even stakeholders like customers. The more people understand their roles & responsibilities the more engaged people are in the performance review process, the greater the benefits will be. That takes planning, careful allocation of manager roles & resposibilities , employee expectations and, discussions of the topics to be covered in advance and an agenda for reviewing performances.
Best practices include making sure that there are no major surprises by providing regular feedback throughout the year, offering training and support and discussing how the review process will be measured and what the stakes are. Scheduling a kick-off meeting before performance reviews can be used to cover the agenda and prepare employees for their roles in the process.
Senior Leader Responsibilities in the Review Process
Senior company leaders set the tone for any company’s culture and operating processes, so it’s important that top management enthusiastically champions the performance review process. Managers duties bear direct responsibility for success, so their roles are more challenging. HR departments provide the tools for measuring success and correcting subpar performances.
Executive Leadership Role
Executives can demonstrate true leadership by participating actively in the review process, empowering teams, setting challenging but attainable SMART goals, articulating the company’s vision and setting an agenda that aligns with company goals. Strong leadership practices include identifying areas where improvement is needed and funding programs and events that focus on improving performance. Executives can support the process through ongoing communications with all stakeholders. That includes communicating across departments through multiple vehicles and engaging different groups to strengthen their commitment to the process.
The managerial roles & responsibilities in the performance review process define success or failure. Each manager must be trained in what’s expected of him or her so that the manager can communicate the employee’s responsibilities and expectations. Performance management requires constant communication and reinforcement to be effective. Simply reviewing each employee once a year provides no benefits other than identifying candidates for promotion or dismissal.
Best practice performance reviews include the following management duties:
Supporting Employee Development
Managers who support the performance review process reinforce its value as a form of two-way communications. Simply put, if you consider the reviews a burden, your team members won’t engage. You should emphasise the benefits of the program and encourage each employee to perform to his or her maximum potential.
Determining a Schedule for Ongoing Performance Reviews
You should hold regular meetings to discuss performance and development issues to provide benchmarks throughout the year. Make a focused effort to monitor each person’s progress, which generates twin benefits: Employees won’t be surprised or sandbagged, and they can work to improve subpar performances before their annual reviews. Use the annual reviews to track progress and develop new goals for the year ahead.
Delivering Constructive Feedback
Feedback keeps people on track in meeting their goals, so it’s important for managers to deliver regular, constructive feedback. You should hold regular one-on-one meetings, but it’s also important to provide impromptu encouragement by rewarding & recognising success publicly. Positive reinforcement rewards those who make progress, but dwelling on shortcomings is counterproductive.
Monitoring each employee’s performance progress is critical to the success of the process. You should check on each person’s work regularly and gather information from multiple sources to track performance benchmarks. Automated HR software tools can gather insights from multiple sources to simplify this process.
Communicating Expectations and Revisiting the Results
Check with each employee to be sure that he or she understands their roles & responsibilities and management expectations. If you find that your goals were set too low or too high, you can refine your targets. Explain that there are two types of goals for which each employee is responsible: The meeting minimum company standards and achieving advanced performance goals.
Demonstrating Leadership Skills
You can’t expect people to develop leadership skills unless you do the same as a manager. Take time to develop your own leadership and management skills to become a more effective coach.
Identifying Different Needs of Multigenerational Employees
Different generations and cultures can have radically different needs and expectations. Millennials tend to favour more flexible work options, technical computing skills and peer-to-peer sharing while older generations prefer direct physical contact and more structured work arrangements. Find out what motivates each group for which you’re responsible, and adopt the best management approach when dealing with members of that group.
Coaching and Mentoring
Coaching and mentoring play critical roles in achieving company goals, and savvy managers reinforce desired behaviours by coaching people individually and identifying mentors for key workers to improve their performances or learn new skills. Coaching best practices include:
- Coaching with a give-and-take attitude to foster stronger communications
- Using special coaching to improve key aspects of an employee’s performance
- Describing your expectations and preferred behaviours instead of focusing on deficiencies
- Encouraging people to take ownership of their own performances
Focusing on Career Development
Using career development as positive reinforcement is an effective tool, so managers should ask their staff members about their career plans and which skills they’d like to develop or improve. It’s important to remind each worker what skills he or she is expected to have in his or her current job and what skills would be necessary for advancement. Try to give each worker enough time and resources to pursue additional skills as part of the performance review process. You can assign people to special projects, coach some people personally, assign mentors and help workers find or fund external educational opportunities.
Taking Each Review Seriously and Completing a Thorough Review Process
It can be easy to short-change your best performers by giving them glowing reviews, and it’s equally tempting to ignore people whom you consider to be lost causes. The squeaky wheel gets the grease, and in HR terms, that usually means paying more attention to those with potential who are underperforming. If you fail to deliver each employee’s complete review on time, it shows that you don’t feel certain people have potential or that you take some high-level performances for granted. The review process must remain a top priority for managers if they want their charges to stay engaged. Incomplete or late reviews could result in delays for pay increases, bonuses and promotions.
Best practices for preparing reviews include:
- Completing each review on time
- Using your company’s rating system as intended
- Remaining as objective as possible
- Providing facts to back-up your assessments
- Explaining what methods were used to determine your ratings
- Recommending a development plan to improve performance
Determining a Schedule for Ongoing Performance Reviews
Managers should schedule a series of meetings with teams and individuals to provide ongoing recommendations, developmental goals and adjustments to performance expectations based on individual abilities and changes in company policies.
Delivering Constructive Feedback
Constructive feedback generates the best success for improving performance levels. As a manager, providing regular feedback is a critical duty
HR Management Duties
HR departments facilitate appraisals in many ways that include adopting technologies to automate retrieving information about employees and their work performances. HR staff can help to set deadlines for each step of the review process and develop training programs for executives, managers and employees. HR staff members can help to define the company’s rating system with objective criteria for each rating level and recommendations about how managers can best use ratings to accomplish company goals.
Other key responsibilities and tasks of HR departments in the review process include:
- Troubleshooting problems with rating criteria
- Analysing organizational, divisional, departmental and individual strengths and weaknesses
- Identifying areas where performance has improved or declined between reviews
- Training managers to provide constructive feedback
- Communicating strategic results throughout the organization
Preparing Employees to Get the Most from Performance Reviews
Although employees are being reviewed as conditions of their continued employment, it’s a big mistake to ignore their feelings and thoughts about the process. Engaged employees can use these meetings as opportunities to discuss their career goals, complain about policies that limit their performances and recommend operational changes that can generate greater efficiencies. Engaged employees bring more positive attitudes to each performance review, so it’s critical that they understand their responsibilities in the review process.
Best practices for employees in the review process include:
- Knowing your individual and company goals
- Keeping track of your performance goals and progress toward achieving them
- Communicating with your manager about your progress
- Working toward career goals through company-sponsored education and support
- Learning which skills you need to advance in the organisation and your career
- Seeking opportunities for growth, cross-training and development
- Responding constructively to feedback and criticism
- Maintaining a healthy relationship with your managers, coaches, mentors and team members
- Recording your successes and challenges
- Providing feedback to other team members and your manager
- Attempting more difficult tasks and not underestimating your abilities
- Completing self-appraisals on time
- Furnishing details about how you accomplished your work objectives
The performance review process – to be truly effective – must guide real-world decisions. If the company doesn’t act on the reviews, your employees will ignore the process. If your judgments are too strict, focus only on the negative and provide no room for challenging the reviews or improving performance, employees will lose interest and revert to dreading the process. Highlighting challenges and successes, seeking each worker’s self evaluation and brainstorming ways to solve problems and improve performance will create a culture where the performance review becomes a valuable HR tool for getting the best performances from available talent. Using the best practices for both formal and informal appraisals fosters a culture of employee accountability, mobility, engagement and high performance.
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