Regular feedback is an effective way to improve people’s performance – whether it’s constructive criticism or praise for a job well done. But are you aware that just 1 in 4 people (26%) find their work appraisal useful?

To help your team get the most from their performance review, WhosOffice has been looking at how best to structure staff appraisals and make sure actions are followed-up.

What are the benefits of staff appraisals?

It’s at your company’s discretion whether you have a formal review process in place; some firms prefer ad hoc feedback. However, there are significant benefits to establishing a regular timetable for staff assessments. These include:

  • Creating a culture of continuous improvement – even the most dedicated team members can sometimes rest on their laurels. Introducing a staff review system means you’re regularly taking stock of people’s performance and identifying areas in which they can strengthen their skillset.
  • Identify roadblocks and training requirements – sometimes even the smallest issue can stop talented people from realising their full potential. Regularly sitting down with staff will help you to acknowledge these challenges and remove many of the roadblocks impacting employees’ progress. You can also use performance reviews as an opportunity to outline training plans, to help your team acquire new skills.
  • Increase staff happiness and motivation – performance reviews are a great opportunity to celebrate wins and acknowledge the effort each employee puts into their job. And the happier your staff are, the more motivated they become to do their job to a high standard and stay loyal to your company.
  • Plan for the future – appraisals are a good place to lay out plans for career progression and to reward high performance standards with promotions and pay rises. Even if an employee isn’t ready for the next step, you can use their performance review to map out future progression and give them something to work towards.

Once you’ve decided to introduce a staff appraisal system, the next major decision your company needs to make is how often to schedule staff feedback sessions. Some firms feel that once a year is enough; others prefer to conduct employee appraisals on a bi-annual or quarterly basis.

What should be included in an employee appraisal?

The key to structuring staff appraisals effectively is to focus on two-way dialogue. Performance reviews provide an opportunity for your employees to share their feelings, and to receive encouragement and structured feedback from team members.

Appraisal preparation is pivotal to maximising the value of each 1:1 session. The staff member being reviewed needs to come to the meeting with notes on their performance. These can include:

  • Key successes and milestones achieved
  • Skills utilised and how they are benefitting the company
  • Ideas for developing their role
  • Potential areas for improvement, upskilling and further training

Prior to the meeting, it’s also useful to gather colleague feedback. This will help you to determine whether the employee’s perception of their performance aligns with their team members.

Many companies seek input from managers and senior leaders, but forget to include peers and direct reports. A 360 degree colleague review is essential to gaining a fully rounded view of people’s performance. It also makes sure they are maintaining strong team relationships at all levels.

However, it’s important to ensure that colleague feedback does not simply become a list of negativities and frustrations. While issues may need to be ironed out, encourage staff to focus on positive achievements and constructive feedback; the purpose of regular employee reviews is to help people improve and add more value.

An easy way to collect and quality control colleague comments is to run your HR tasks online. A good digital HR platform will allow you to a create a checklist of everyone who needs to provide feedback for each team member and store their feedback on the system, so you can see who’s responded and who you need to chase.

An online HR portal also allows you to collate key comments in a document attached to each employee’s file. This way, they can remind themselves of feedback at a later date.

What happens after your employee appraisal?

One reason that employees struggle to see the value of performance reviews is not the appraisal itself, but what happens afterwards. Notes might be taken on the day, but how often are these converted into tangible action points?

Turning 1:1 feedback into company value relies on managers making a clear post-review plan and assigning follow-up actions to key members of staff. For example, if a team member would like to develop a particular skill, is there someone internally that can offer them training?

Investing in an online HR management system can help here too, as whoever conducts your employee’s appraisal can delegate action points to relevant people in your business. And they can also refer back to review notes to see which actions have been completed.

It’s also important to make sure that your appraisal system works long-term, rather than being a short-lived initiative. With this in mind, make sure each employee’s next performance review is entered into the diary as soon as the previous one is completed. Online HR tools can help here as well, as you can set recurring diary entries every 3, 6 or 12 months in line with your appraisal structure.

HR and Document Storage platform available on WhosOffice

Invest in the tools to drive staff success

Creating regular, two-way dialogue with employees is a powerful way to maximise their performance and ensure their progress within your company. Now is an opportune moment to review and update your appraisal system to ensure it is delivering value for both your workforce and your business.

Now is also an opportune time to invest in online HR software to enhance your appraisal process. Digitising workflows will allow you to structure regular employee reviews, make sure the right people provide feedback, document outcomes and diarise follow-up actions – so that your staff appraisal system is driving continuous improvement.

WhosOffice people management software includes a built-in HR feature for managing performance reviews. Book your free WhosOffice trial to explore our HR tools.


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