Today I'm kicking off a three-part series on performance appraisals from the perspective of HR, managers and employees. It's the perfect time of year for all of these groups to give some thought to their role in the appraisal process as they complete 2010 reviews, and to think ahead on how to change things up in 2011.
I speak with HR professionals every day about their talent management processes, and I hear a lot about their "pains" when it comes to managing the appraisal process within their organizations.
Too often, HR is stuck playing traffic cop on talent management tasks and isn't able to be a strategic partner. In these scenarios there is no real effective way to know where things are at in the appraisal process, how many employee evaluations have been completed - by and for whom.
In these circumstances HR is relegated to being reactive rather than proactive, and the organization as a whole lacks the insight needed to make informed business decisions about their talent. Managers, employees and executives aren't really engaged in the talent management process beyond viewing performance appraisals as another task to get done...
‘Tis the season for HR to eschew the personnel policing role and make a fresh start with talent management in 2011!
To that end, we've put together three wishes we know many HR professionals have on their list this season when it comes to making the performance review process easier for everyone within the organization.
Wish #1 - Motivated Managers & Employees
Ideally, the appraisal process is a year round conversation between managers and employees, not a one-shot deal every 12 months. You need to partner with your managers and employees to manage expectations, define roles and redefine the process so they are working on it year round.
By making the appraisal process an on-going effort, performance data is collected and feedback provided to employees throughout the year, and it's easier for employees and managers to make a meaningful commitment to the review process.
Getting managers and employees to complete appraisals on time becomes a non-issue because they understand their role in the process, which increases their level of engagement. Not only are they motivated to complete their appraisals, but through the process they gain a deeper understanding of how their individual performance impacts the overall performance of the organization.
Meetings with employees are (mostly) pain free as there *should* be no surprise feedback given.
Wish #2 - Executive Buy-In
Understandably, this is one of the biggest hurdles that HR can struggle with. For HR to be a strategic business partner you need executive buy-in on your talent management process and that process needs to be tied to your organization's goal management process. It's that simple.
Without your executive team supporting this strategy it is nearly impossible to drive engagement in the process at every level of your organization.
Individual and organizational goals need to be well-aligned, communicated and consistently managed across the entire organization and the executive team needs to demonstrate their commitment to making goal alignment and management an integral part of the HR and corporate strategy.
I discuss more on the need for executives to participate fully in talent management programs here.
Yet, it's a classic chicken/egg scenario:
You need data that demonstrates the value of the process to your entire organization, but often, executives aren't going to value the process until they see some tangible proof that it works.
What's needed is a cultural change where leadership "gets" it, and understands that there is a connection between an effective goal management process and organizational performance. Research does exist to demonstrate the result is a better ability to increase overall employee engagement, faster recruiting cycle time, and a tighter link between talent management and business strategy.
It can require a leap of faith on the part of leadership, but the right information can help HR pros motivate executives to see the value of talent management programs and how pivotal fostering high performance is when it comes to meeting key business metrics.
Wish #3 - Actionable Data that Feeds Development
Imagine...an appraisal process where you know where everything is, deadlines are met and you can easily get the data you need to execute other strategic HR programs around pay for performance, employee development and succession planning.
Imagine the appraisal doesn't get filed away and forgotten for 365 days. Instead the aggregate data from the process helps you identify your company's highest and lowest rated competencies, so that your training department can assign appropriate development planning and you can monitor improvements over time.
This paper-free paradise is possible, I know it's hard to believe when you are stuck digging through spreadsheets, notebooks and more that are all sucking up hours of your day.
You just need a little of wish 1 and a little of wish 2 to come true, so that you're able to begin a process that links employee performance to real business results over time.
I'm sure you HR professionals have more wishes than the ones I list here, and I hope some of this advice helps you to throw out your personnel policing hat and get strategic in 2011.
I'm interested in hearing your thoughts.
- Do these three wishes resonate with you?
- What are some other wishes you have for around this time of year?
In our next post in this series we'll discuss how managers can prepare for the annual performance review meeting. Hint: it's not about giving feedback.
Read Parts II and III in this series: