In having an animated conversation with one of my colleagues this week, I learnt something.
She’s passionate about the positive impact one-to-one performance platforms like ours can have on an organisation, but she’s skeptical about whether big corporates are ‘walking the walk’ when it comes to embracing all the functions and features that performance management review platforms have to offer – even if they have the capacity to do so.
To be fair, she’s somewhat biased (and admits it!), having come from a long line of corporates before joining our Appraisd family. She recalled the pain of preparing her business case every November for the dreaded annual appraisal; knowing she’d have to justify a pay increase that was most likely deserved – and prepare to ward off any potential criticism that was designed to justify why she wouldn’t qualify – despite having had a largely successful year. Her biggest gripe though was with rankings which, more often than not, locked talented people out of justified pay rises or promotions – a great case-in-point being Google and the myriad of committees involved in their promotion process (illustrated in this article about their alleged pay-based segregation of women). She believes there are still companies out there that still rely on rankings despite increased awareness of their limitations. This brought us to this topic of whether appraisals are really dying…or being kept on life support by those who know the gains to be had by transitioning to continuous employee dialogue, but won’t take the leap to the ‘other side’.
Bi-Annual Reviews – The Halfway House?
I can see why some companies may gravitate to this compromise when trying to embrace the relatively new world of improved employee engagement. The reviews aren’t annual (which is a good thing), and if said company views monthly check-ins as burdensome, it can seem as the best of both worlds. I have, in fact, encountered more semi-annual review structures than perhaps I thought I would this year which bears this out.
I do believe they are unnecessary, especially if a framework for regular check-ins exist alongside them. However, some organisations do think of this as a step towards more continuous performance management, so it seems to be more of a reluctance to implement wholesale change, as opposed to a lack of belief in the benefits of continual dialogue. Ultimately, this is a false economy.
To a paper-based organisation, an online platform that facilitates employee communication and empowerment may initially seem both daunting and a massive relief to the team leader who’s struggled up to this point to clearly understand what her/his team needs. The feedback we receive is 100% positive as these organisations have finally transitioned from laborious processes to agile HR. However, how many companies out there only use a review platform to merely put an existing (broken) process online … and how many are actually in danger of frustrating their employees further by offering slightly more dialogue, but not enough to make them feel heard. The desire to avoid disrupting existing workflows will ultimately lead to no change at all.
Check-ins are informal and frequent in order to empower the employee, and give them a sense of control and ownership of their career through guidance and mentorship from their manager. Honestly, there’s no benefit in slowly scaling up to continuous feedback – it’s far easier to just commit, go for it and not limit yourself!
Rebecca joined the HRreview editorial team in January 2016. After graduating from the University of Sheffield Hallam in 2013 with a BA in English Literature, Rebecca has spent five years working in print and online journalism in Manchester and London. In the past she has been part of the editorial teams at Sleeper and Dezeen and has founded her own arts collective.