Not every manager has the power to alter the performance evaluation process of a company. But what managers can do is turn the process into a positive and fulfilling experience for their team members and themselves. If you are a manger looking to pull off a positive experience, here’s what it takes: thorough planning, diligent execution, and getting management buy-in.
Here are five steps you can take through the year to ensure an easier appraisal season:
#1 Set SMART goals: Specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals lay the foundation for high performance. As managers, setting SMART goals is critical to ensuring employees work in the right direction. Rather than vague goals such as ‘improve sales or improve customer experience’, set specific goals like ‘generate 10 qualified leads per day’ or ‘reduce customer response time on calls/email by 50%’. SMART goals make it easy to track accomplishments and KPIs when the appraisal season arrives.
#2 Provide regular and constructive feedback: Don’t wait for the annual appraisal season to tell employees what you think of their work. Devote some time weekly, fortnightly, monthly, or at least once a quarter to sit down with team members, and review their goals, roadmaps, action items, and progress. Constructive feedback needn’t always be positive – it can be about the things your team members aren’t doing right. What’s important is that it is delivered in the right manner and is actionable. Instead of reprimanding people, show them the impact of wrong-doing, guide them towards the right way and hand-hold them, if needed. General Electric, for instance, uses an app called PD@GE. GE managers use the app to provide real time, regular feedback to employees and set actionable short-term goals.
#3 Link performance management to business value: Too often managers value aspects such as attendance, timeliness or adherence to corporate code of conduct, while sidelining important milestones such as actual project outcomes or positive behaviors like entrepreneurial thinking and team approach. Boosting skills and attitudes that contribute to measurable business performance all year round can drive a significantly improved appraisal experience.
#4 Mentor team members: Millennials value learning and actively look towards leaders for mentorship and advice. As a manager, provide recommendations, sponsorship, coaching for courses, and training that can help employees bridge their skill gaps and improve their performance. According to a recent Deloitte report on millennial worker preferences, respondents stated that an ideal working week would include significantly more mentoring and coaching time than they currently receive from their managers.
#5 Establish an OKR system: Regardless of whether your organization as a whole uses the Objectives and Key Results (OKR) system, you can leverage it to boost performance and motivation in your team. The way OKR works is – you set up an objective (on the lines of SMART goals) along with a number of key results that will determine when you hit your objective. At the end of the business quarter, you grade key results to track performance and see where you are going right or wrong. From Google to Intel and Adobe, many market leaders use the OKR system to improve transparency and promote employee buy-in to the appraisal process.
Two-way communication lies at the heart of easier appraisals
As a manager, your key concern should be to give employers a voice, not just at the time of appraisals, but throughout their work tenure. Utilize a 360-degree appraisal mechanism, a la HCL Technologies, to ensure people have the courage and opportunity to voice their opinion without the fear of being judged or losing their jobs. At the end of the day, managers should do everything they can to ensure that appraisals serve the purpose they are designed for – to help people advance in their careers, rather than being sources of stress.