Surveys often show disdain from employees and managers for appraisals, but how might improvements to how that information is gathered make the whole process easier and more useful?
Performance appraisals are renowned for stirring up strong opinions. Critics condemn them as a tick-box exercise and waste of time, while supporters commend regular performance discussions for helping employees to achieve their goals and move the business forward.
Roly Walter, a former business analyst at Goldman Sachs and now chief executive of Appraisd, falls into the latter camp – which is why, three years ago, he created his own cloud-based staff appraisal software.
Walter predicts that the whole area of appraisals will only grow in importance over the coming years as feedback-hungry millennials become a greater proportion of the workforce.
I thought there was huge value in [appraisals], but the systems that people were using were wrong.” – Roly Walter, Appraisd
“It didn’t sound right to me a few years ago when people were saying they were going to ditch appraisals,” he says, referring to calls from some camps to scrap formal appraisals and foster more regular, informal dialogue.
“It made me think there was huge value in them, but the systems that people were using were wrong,” Walter adds. “They were all too top-down, almost as if employers were inspecting the workforce and getting the stats to root out the lowest performing 10%. But that doesn’t serve anyone – there’s certainly no value in it for the employee.”
Part of daily life
Walter’s goal was to develop a system that would appeal to employees, managers and employers that could easily be tailored to cater to both standard and non-standard competencies and skills.
A further objective was to make it flexible enough to cover everything from quarterly appraisals to mini- and probationary reviews on top of the standard annual activity, while reducing the admin burden on HR by as much as 30%.
But a key goal in developing the system, which runs on both PCs and mobile devices, was “to try and move appraisals from being an annual obstacle that people put off. So we tried to embed it in the standard workflow of managers and employees to make it part of daily life,” he says.
Staff can add audio or video files and even email feedback from customers or colleagues to their appraisal form as they go along, rather than have to do everything in one big hit once a year.
They can also integrate Dropbox files so that managers are able to see all of their key projects on in one place.
And in six months’ time, managers will be able to conduct appraisals with home or remote workers via a video conference link embedded in the appraisal forms too.
“It’s about trying to help employees feel more empowered to set their own path through the organisation and ultimately to get where they want to be,” Walter concludes.