At this time of year many workers and managers are preparing for the annual appraisal season and performance review. But let’s face it, most managers and employees find them to be a waste of time.
“In my experience, managers often used appraisal time to tell me that I was not going to get the pay rise I had deserved and hoped for, with little reason or logic to substantiate the decision. Many of my colleagues suffered the same fate, often triggering resentment as some staff received pay increases or promotions when they didn’t appear to deserve them. This inconsistency and lack of transparency often led to staff disengagement” says Tony Delaney, CEO of Brownie Points.
While most organisations continue to perform this uncomfortable process once or twice a year, a number of forward thinking companies are looking to scrap the formality in part or altogether, and are incorporating new technologies to support or replace the process. The thinking is that performance reviews can be stressful and ineffective in motivating workers. Traditional top-down performance reviews can also cause intimidation among employees and make them fearful of acknowledging weaknesses.
However, some experts caution that scrapped performance reviews must be replaced with some form of feedback mechanism, and rightly so. Without documented reviews, employees may be able to slack off without repercussion. Others may fail to be recognised for their achievements.
What we are now starting to see from a growing number of progressive companies is ongoing performance and engagement measurement utilising state of the art recognition software to deliver integrated staff performance programs. Some of the older Reward and Recognition programs that many organisations adopted failed to act as performance management tools that could accurately and consistently monitor the levels of staff motivation, engagement and performance. These “carrot and stick” systems tended to focus on those staff who were already being recognised such as the sales team, while failing to recognise the significant performance and contribution of back room staff whose efforts often went unnoticed.
New technology companies such as Brownie Points have entered the market delivering a modern approach to measuring staff performance using online and real-time solutions, gamification and mobile technology.
According to Tony Delaney these new software initiatives can help a business to accurately measure and monitor staff performance consistently and transparently. With the added capability of peer to peer recognition as well as management feedback companies can deliver far more valuable information to managers at appraisal time and throughout the year. As the programs can operate in real time throughout the year, they are perfect for building and displaying an accurate picture of the contribution of staff members, making review time a more pleasant and productive experience for all.
Such technologies can deliver formal performance programs based on recognition tied to corporate vision, values or specific KPI’s to measure staff performance. These solutions can deliver significant business value and a measurable return on investment. In addition, products such as Brownie Points are now including informal “badges” or “certificates” of recognition which may not have a point’s value, but are nevertheless very important ways to recognise staff. “Acknowledging contribution by a co-worker or colleague for great team work, excellent customer service or submission of innovation or cost saving initiatives can be a powerful motivator” says Tony. “Programs that can manage both formal and informal recognition “instantly” or in real time have the ability make appraisals more valuable to the business and the participants. What we are now seeing with some of our clients is a real move towards maximising the capability of their staff recognition software for engagement, while utilising them as a feeder system into their appraisals process. This is a fantastic use of the software”.
At the end of the day, a performance review or appraisal should meet two key criteria.
1. It should help management rationally determine who their top performers are to ensure that the cream rises to the top for promotions, and to reward consistently top performing staff for their contribution to the business.
2. It should also permit staff to review their own performance, accurately and consistently measuring their contribution over the course of the year so that there are no shocks at appraisal time.
Organisations looking to establish themselves as an employer of choice are seeing these new technologies deliver a competitive advantage, while driving real business value through time and cost savings and improved performance of their engaged workers.
If your appraisal reviews are delivering the above results you are well on the way to maximising your investment in your most precious resource – your staff.