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Author's profile photo Former Member

Improving employee engagement in the appraisal process

In many organizations, the annual appraisal process is a conversation between the employee and their manager. Typically these conversations are more like a feedback process, how the employee could have done better, how they missed their goals, as well discussion on the goals for the coming year.

Such conversations do not bring too much value to the employee or to the process in the organization. A sense of frustration creeps in, with both the employee and the manager going through the process, for the sake of it.  Frustrating because the annual appraisal process does not motivate or engage employee’s in a meaningful or productive way.

Today, the way people work, has changed dramatically from the past; matrix organizations are a common scenario in many organizations. Employees move from one team to another for project purposes or for working toward a common enterprise goal. In this scenario team dynamics play a far important role on the employee performance, and are more influential than what the employee’s supervisor does. Unfortunately, in many organizations the annual appraisal process has not kept pace with this changed work environment. The appraisal process continues to be top down – the employee and the supervisor
meet at the beginning of the year to discuss about goals, have a mid-year evaluation and a year-end assessment.

In the new work environment, the current HR trend is to give on the moment feedback to improve performance. Instead of the manager and the employee having performance related meetings during mid-year and year-end only, managers and employees are encouraged to meet more often. These meetings can be formally scheduled with an agenda. Such meetings are not necessarily more than half-hour and help the manager to understand where and how the employee can be supported. The employee can use such meetings to discuss how they are progressing on the goals and what support they need.  Managers and employee can meet informally between these scheduled meetings. Managers can use such meetings to provide quick inputs / feedback and use the opportunity to coach the employees.  What we are noticing here is a shift in the appraisal process from a direct process, to a more coaching environment. We also see the process to be a “just in time” feedback compared to the mid-year / annual feedbacks that dominates the appraisal process in many organizations.

An application such as Successfactors Performance / Goals Management provides a user friendly user interface and supports mobility. With such features, providing continuous feedback (the employee and the manager making regular notes in the appraisal document) is easily accomplished. Both the manager and the employee should be able to interact more regularly and leverage the available functionalities more effectively.

Another trend is to leverage the social performance management tools. These include getting peer reviews from the co-workers, project managers, cross-functional teams, customers etc. By getting a multi-layered feedback, managers are able to better assess the performance of
their employee’s.  You can also use badges to provide instant recognition to the employee’s. Recognition need not always be monetary or job promotions, recognitions in the form of badges (these badges can be displayed in the ESS) are a growing trend in the appraisal process.

What I always encourage my customers to do, is to highlight the strengths of the employees in the feedback process, and how those can be built-upon and improved. Any negative feedback (such as timeliness of deliverables, etc) can be coached upon and improved over a period of time. The new workforce enjoys responsibilities and leadership. Create awareness that every employee is a CEO of their own life and they determine what they want to be.

Make the appraisal process to be more democratic and bottom-up. This helps employees to be more engaged in the appraisal process, often coming up with ideas / suggestions on what they want to improve, on how they can contribute to the team / enterprise goals. Coaching and just-in-feedback greatly helps employees confidence and be engaged in their performance improvement.

Your performance management process is an important link in your talent strategy. It should not be a boring experience or a ritual that need to be completed. Engaging your employees in the process will greatly reflect in the bottom line and help your talent strategy to succeed. 

I always encourage my customers to have an integrated talent management processes. Unless each of the talent processes is integrated, they will continue to work in individual silos and you will never gain the efficiencies or see the benefits of your processes. What this mean is, your performance management processes must be integrated to your Learning Management Systems (to support training requirements and have it tracked in the appraisal process), Compensation Management (for pay-for-performance environment), as well to the Success Management Systems (for succession planning, bench strength
etc). When these systems and processes talk to each other, you really have an integrated environment, where you can plan how your employee progresses and have plans to support them effectively.

Join me on Jan 29th 2014 in a Successfactors webinar to discuss more on how employee can be better engaged in the annual appraisal process. You
can register for the webinar here:

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      Author's profile photo Sven Ringling
      Sven Ringling

      Nice Article, Venki!

      I've always thought performance related conversations between employees and their line managers (or project managers, come to that) need to haopen more often. And in an age, where compliance dominates everything (most notably trust and common sense) a tool that easily allows us to document these meetings on a mobile platform is extremely valuable.

      I also found it stupid that objectives should always be set on an annual basis. This may be easy for sales targets, where you can set a reasonable number for the year, but not every project or task happens to have a duration, which coincides with the time mother Earth needs to circumvent the sun exactly once. this often leads to artificial milrstones or half-way KPIs being created at points where a proper assesment is difficult and final assessments done 10 months after completion, when everybody finds it difficult to remember.

      IT would be intersting to learn what your experience is with setting up systems, where vsrious objectives are assessed at different points during the year?

      best wishes


      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Hi Sven,  Thanks for the comment. Time bound / project bound goals are a very common customer requirements in my engagement. Unfortunately the on-premise application does not support this need.

      However, Successfactors PM/GM supports this functionality. What is also exciting, you can group people from different organziations for a common goal (which again is a common scenario, esp in matrix org) and have that tracked as well.