Developing and operating an effective staff appraisal system

People are critical to the success of any organisation, large or small. It is people and their ability to devise systems procedures that add value to customers, that drives the success or failure of an organisation. The contribution to the success of the organisation will no doubt vary according to the different individual. Consequently, every organisation needs to learn how to measure the performance of people. Only then can they establish systems and procedures which help people perform better. This improved performance will drive the success of the organisation in its continued challenge to upgrade the quality of the products or services it provides to its customers.
Teckchand and Pichler (2015) confirm that the basis for any effective appraisal system is Trust and Support. They confirm that performance appraisals are a good way to let employees know what is expected from them and how well they are meeting those expectations. However, they content that often the appraisal process leaves both boss and worker dissatisfied. On the basis of the research they carried out, their findings showed that managers who take time outside of the formal performance appraisal process to seek common ground, practice reciprocity, understand their employees and provide informal feedback develop trust and support that enhances workforce productivity. In this context the appraisal system itself, be it computerised or manual, is secondary to the rapport and understanding created between management and staff.
They present a model which calls for trust and support as the basis for developing a quality relationship that ensures that both parties focus on the interests of the firm and its customers. Within that context, the appraisal reactions serve as shared performance objectives, where staff commit to achieve and management agrees to support, the required operational objectives and deliverables. It is within this shared commitment to excel, to look at problems as opportunities to deliver value, at failures as chances to improve, as success as a mutually beneficial experience, that performance appraisal can be effective.
ImageSource: Teckchandani, Atul; Pichler, Shaun; 2015
Not everybody in an organisation is a star performer and not everybody is a poor performer. Management has the obligation to seek out the top performers and provide fast tracks for their growth and development, if not, these people will inevitably leave the organisation. They also need to identify the poor performers who are not committed to their own personal development. These individuals have poor long term prospects in the organisation and their contribution generally is minimal. In many cases, they may have the aptitude or the competency but they lack the mind-set or the attitude to perform. Yet the majority of staff are what may be described as average. They have a desire to be successful and provided they are given the right support and opportunities, they will work to be successful. Nobody chooses to be unsuccessful. Most people who are unsuccessful in an organisation do so because of their own incompetence and/or the incompetence of their superiors who fail to recognise their talents and how these can best be applied to the mutual benefit of the organisation and the individual concerned.
It is within this broader perspective that appraisal systems and procedures need to be designed, developed and implemented. Their objective cannot be to focus on finding failure, on the contrary the focus needs to be on celebrating success and using failures as learning opportunities to improve individual and corporate performance. This is very much in line with the core concepts of the learning organisation developed and promoted by Peter Senge back in the 80s and 90s. Clearly, we are not talking of a fad, or a fashionable approach. The on-going training and development of staff, right across the organisation, from directors, senior managers, down to the most junior of staff, has been shown to be critical to the success of an organisation in coping with and adapting to both continually changing external and internal demands.
There needs to be a commitment from the Directors and Management to such an approach. This needs to be reflected in allocation of resources, both time and money to the design, development and implementation of appraisal systems that respect the above priorities. Within this context, a new breed of Software-as-a-Service appraisal solutions are available which provide the flexibility, automation and ease of use to produce pro-active appraisal reports that help to strengthen collaboration. Such dedicated systems include EB-SES the Staff Evaluation System offered by eBusiness Systems. This is available as a stand-alone solution or may be integrated with one or more of its systems.
This system allows for on-going staff evaluations, doing away with the traditional once in a year review. Typically, staff are required to carry out a self-evaluation of their performance on a quarterly or monthly basis. This evaluation is reviewed and assessed in different ways according to the procedures adopted by the firm. In this way, EB-SES allows for 360 evaluations where individual staff and appraised by their superiors, their colleagues and their subordinates, where relevant. Alternatively it can be set for traditional evaluation of staff on a top-down approach. The profiling routines available in setting up the system allows for subsequent appraisals and evaluations to the level of detail and frequency required by the organisation. The system can be up and running in weeks not months, it is based on low One-Time-Costs for set-up and commissioning and monthly On-Going-Costs for hosting, maintenance etc are based on the number of registered on the system. The data on the staff evaluation database can also be related to the data on the time management database providing management and staff with the powerful combination of data for a full evaluation of processes and results of individuals or teams within the organisation.
Extensive support is available on request, both at HRM level in designing and developing the most appropriate appraisal system for the organisation as well as on a technical basis in setting up and configuring the system.
Teckchandani, Atul; Pichler, Shaun; 2015 “Quality results from performance appraisals”, Industrial Management, July/August 2015, pp 16-20.