Why Once Per Year Performance Reviews Aren’t Enough to Drive Employee Engagement

Hi, I’m Nicola from The People Mentor. 

In this series of podcasts, I want to share some practical tips and advice that HR managers can share with line managers. 

Team and management issues clog up the desk of many HR managers when with the right support or training, they could be dealt with at the source before they take precious time away from those strategic HR tasks that really make a difference to the business. 

I want to talk about performance appraisals.  

When they are done correctly, appraisals can be very beneficial for both employers and employees, however, they are not always valued or carried out in a way that is very useful.  

Feedback is one of the things that has the potential to drive up employee satisfaction, motivation, productivity, and performance, but it has to be delivered at the right time and in the right way.  

One of the main issues with performance appraisals is that many organisations don’t do them often enough.

While there is value in a yearly appraisal, all too often it can be treated like a tick-box exercise, and not only that, giving formal feedback once per year is nowhere near enough to allow managers to address performance issues as they arise.  

As an HR manager, have you spent a lot of time dealing with performance issues that could have been identified much sooner if the line manager had held more regular focused meetings with the employee?  

Regular feedback and appraisals from managers can help weed out and change any undesirable behaviours before they cross your desk.  

There are other benefits to having more regular appraisals including; 

Making employees feel like they’re appreciated and that what they do is valued. An appraisal is a perfect opportunity to give employees feedback and praise them for their hard work. If your people feel valued and appreciated, they will work harder and they’ll want to stay and develop with the business.   

Speaking of development, regular appraisals can identify any training or development needs that employees might have. This can prevent performance issues from occurring that are related to a lack of training or support to do their job effectively.  

Having regular appraisals also means that new goals can be set regularly and this is motivating for employees. From time to time, we can all feel a little jaded at work, and having something to aim for will keep them moving forward.  

As well as helping managers stay on top of performance issues, regular appraisals can help them keep a check on how employees are doing and discuss concerns on either side. This can stop a potential grievance in its tracks, again before it ends up with you in HR.  

And let’s not forget, many team issues can be avoided simply by making sure everyone is on the same page. The appraisal can be an excellent platform that managers can use to communicate with employees, clarify expectations, and unite everyone behind the business vision and common goals.  

Lastly, amid the ‘busyness’ of work, the appraisal is a very valuable opportunity for managers and employees to take a step back, think about how things are going, and look objectively at where there’s room for improvement.  

So there are definitely plenty of arguments for having more regular appraisals, but another key thing is that they need to be productive. The manager and employee should leave an appraisal meeting feeling that something concrete has been achieved, there are clear goals going forward, and any issues have been addressed constructively.  

Unfortunately, this is not always the case.  

Sometimes, there’s a sense of going through the motions in these meetings, and a ‘let’s just get it done attitude on both sides, which is a shame because productive appraisals can be transformative for teams.  

So how can managers make performance appraisals more productive? 

As well as having more regular, short, and focused meetings, they should;  

Be a mentor/coach for the employee. Giving feedback and doing an appraisal isn’t about saying to an employee ‘do this, do that…’ it should be about coaching an employee to think about their goals and how they can achieve them. This will make them feel so much more empowered and invested in the appraisal process.  

It’s also important that managers remember that appraisals aren’t just about them talking and the employee listening. It has to be a constructive and collaborative two-way discussion about goals, concerns, development, support, and more.  

Appraisals aren’t about filling in a form and going through a list, they’re about looking at the bigger picture and making sure the employee is engaged and involved in that bigger picture. 

Motivated and productive employees are employees who understand how they contribute to the business and how them achieving their personal goals will contribute to the overall success of the business. When employees understand this, they are much more likely to work hard and be focused because they know they are contributing to something bigger than themselves.  

Finally, managers should make sure that the appraisal process is transparent and consistent for all employees. If appraisals are done correctly, employees will begin to see them as something of real value that is worth engaging with. They will also help managers build engaged, high-performing teams where everyone is invested in achieving personal and collective success.  

Keeping a check on employee performance can be like spinning plates for managers, and appraisals can often feel like just another thing on their to-do list. But if appraisals are done properly and regularly, they not only keep employees motivated and engaged, but they can also shine a light on any performance issues or grievances before they become an HR headache.  

You have enough on your plate as an HR manager, so you need line managers in place who are confident and competent at carrying out effective appraisals and managing performance issues before they become a serious problem.  

More than that though, you need help solving those issues that have occurred because performance or disciplinary issues have been left unchecked, or where managers haven’t had the experience or the inclination to deal with them, and now they’ve become your problem.  

But where is the time when you’re being pulled in so many directions? 

This is where I can help.  

I know people issues need handling with care, and that you need someone firm but fair. Who won’t come in and point the finger in an already fraught situation, but will get to the bottom of what’s really going on and come up with solutions that work for everyone.  

Get in touch to find out more about my Team Turnaround Package today. 

  • If you want line managers to feel competent and confident when dealing with performance issues and everything else that comes with the difficult task of managing people, 
  • If you want to free up your time to spend on strategic HR tasks that make a difference to the business, 
  •  If you want to restore harmony in the workplace and stop directors breathing down your neck because they want results,  

this package is just the solution you need!  

I hope you got some useful tips from this podcast and I’ll see you again soon for the next in the series.  

This is The People Mentor, signing off.  

Need help with performance appraisals book an exploratory call.

Getting feedback is key when carrying out performance appraisals.

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