Human Resources are a complex world within the corporate structure with many positive and negative experiences of employees in rife who deal with the HR department on a regular basis. But, the HR department has always played a key role in retaining a company’s employees, be it private or government. Using the company’s strategic objectives, policies and systems to maximize the management and employee productivity, the HR department works to optimize the performance.
With a surge in the number of companies in the recent years, companies are experiencing a trend where dissatisfied employees, instead of trying to work out terms and conditions with the management, tend to move to a new organization at the first sign of trouble or conflict. Their dissatisfaction heightens during appraisals as employees find it the most stressful period of the year. The need to perform par excellence becomes a necessity and there is a feeling of being constantly watched. It’s rare to encounter a satisfied employee post appraisal. Following are few grievances of employees:
- Being incorrectly assessed
- Being assessed by the wrong person in an unsatisfactory way
- Immediate poor performances overshadowing good track record of the past
- Personal relationships impacting official performances
- Personal prejudices of caste, color, gender, religious, regional affecting the appraisal
Employees narrate stories of their trysts with the HR department. One such case is as follows:
Mr. ABC (name not disclosed to protect privacy) reports that HR appraisal time has been the most stressful time for him in his organization. Performance of the current quarter tends to overshadow the entire year’s hard work. Just before the quarterly appraisal, Mr. ABC had an argument with his boss. He feels that his performance was misjudged and the management, including the HR, was partial in their review process, leading to him resigning from his job.
Personal rivalries and misjudgments may color performance reviews, but that is not always the case. Employees tend to blame HR for a bad performance review instead of their own inadequacies. According to a recent survey, 60% of employees say performance appraisals are a waste of time, while 70% have no idea how they are evaluated. Companies like Adobe, Deloitte, and Accenture have dropped appraisals and are promoting monthly feedbacks to avoid employee attrition.
However, the fact remains that most employers rely on appraisals for performance assessment. To that end, there are some tips that can ensure fair and efficient appraisals:
- Set up a specific date, time, and location to hold meetings with employees. Ensure that the location is private and quiet so that the employees feel at ease to speak up and are also prepared with their answers and issues.
- Make sure that ideas and thoughts are organized during the review process so that employees’ job roles and their competencies are well understood. It is possible to provide a feedback only when there is a clear understanding between the HR personnel and the employee.
- Keep track of an employee’s all year performance and do not give precedence to the performance of a specific slot to assess the all over performance.
- Allow a two-way discussion process to proceed during the appraisal. Employees must feel that they have the right to voice their opinions.
- It is pertinent to ensure that negative feedbacks should not dominate the conversation. Positive feedback needs to be interspersed with weaknesses regarding the job. Detailed criticism in one session can lead to a disinterested employee, leading to employee defection.
- It is a known fact that employees dislike harsh criticism, but doctored feedback does not help either. An honest feedback is essential for both the employees as well as the organization. It is the duty of the HR personnel to enable an honest conversation.
- Appraisal time should be a time for learning, both for the employee and the management. Employees must get a wholesome picture of the goals and expectations for the next performance period and be able to chart out their goals, syncing it with company goals and objectives. While the management should get a comprehensive view of the employee’s opinion regarding his job and the company.
After the appraisal, it is crucial to see if there are any gaps between the report in-hand and employees’ own statements regarding their performance. On a more positive note, performance appraisal meetings are an opportunity for both management and employees to:
- Discuss issues directly with the management
- Recheck and evaluate goals while identifying new ones
- Understand how management decides on positive statements about one's performance and behavior
- Discuss on areas that need improvement, prospects for new or increased motivation, plans for career plotting and upward hierarchical movement
- Brainstorm on interesting areas with the project to improve performance, opportunities for increased learning, skill development and responsibilities
Most appraisals are completed and signed off by the manager as well as the employee. The appraisal is kept as a record of the employee’s development and progress. If minor issues crop up and are in dispute, HR can keep a record of the areas that have not been agreed upon and ensure to work out a plan to address the grievances and disputes.
The management, as well as the HR, must understand that an appraisal is not a disciplinary process and should not be used to impose disciplinary actions. Appraisals should be an open forum to allow HR and management to talk about employee performance at work as well as any issues regarding career. Performance appraisals are only as good as the performance management system it operates within. Companies that only do performance appraisals for the sake of doing them are wasting their time. Organizations that use performance appraisals as a method to chalk out a comprehensive performance management system have the advantage of accomplishing their objectives, employee satisfaction, and their business goals. In short, efficient appraisals can effectively cut down employee attrition rate, leading to a healthy business and management model.
Sanjeev Himachali is a Strategic HR Consultant, Talent Strategist, Management Consultant and a Performance Coach. He exhibits over a decade and a half years of progressive, leadership experience and core competencies in talent acquisition, management, and development, HR program management, compensation & benefits management, and staff engagements.