Understanding the value of performance reviews

Whilst the UK has been officially out of recession for some time now, it seems that only now can businesses really acknowledge it, and employers are once again feeling able to look beyond survival, towards the proactive development of their people.

We have started to receive an increasing number of enquiries from organisations across all sectors looking for support with development activities such as appraisal tools and talent retention.  

Despite the tough trading times we’ve seen in recent years, many businesses have grown in this period, and now have much larger teams then they did prior to the banking crash. That said, many have also been reluctant to spend their tight budgets on what is often perceived to be an optional luxury, or an activity with no clear financial return.  For that reason, it is only now that managers are starting to feel confident about growth and their future and therefore finding the resources to look beyond the day to day requirements of the business.

Many employees never know whether their manager thinks they’re performing well, and this can be a cause of unnecessary stress or anxiety for employees at all levels within a business. We all like to think that we are doing a good job and that our efforts are valued, but if we’re honest, most managers fail to prioritise providing feedback, whether through a formal performance review process or a more relaxed one-to-one catch up.

I often find myself using an analogy based on ten-pin bowling. I ask clients what their reaction would be if they turned up at the bowling alley, collected their shoes and arrived at their lane, only then to be told that there were no skittles. Would you really still play, with nothing to aim at, no target, no way to measure your accuracy or your performance in comparison to your team or your opponents? The answers are usually no – what would be the point? How could you measure anything? I explain that this is often the kind of environment we ask our team members and colleagues to work in.

Indeed, they understand the point of their role and what they should be doing, and hopefully they strive to do their best, but if we took the time to set regular goals and ways of measuring those goals, and prepared tools to encourage feedback from leadership and to motivate employees, would we not, therefore, provide a happier, more focused working environment? One where everyone knew how they rated against our expectations and one which enabled pride in their achievements and determination to improve.

Having a well-designed appraisal system and set of tools can have a number of positive effects on your business. It can boost staff morale and motivation, in turn increasing productivity and quality. It can ensure that managers and supervisors are more confident and effective in their roles, with the training to be more comfortable appraising and managing their team. Furthermore, it can also have a positive effect on the image of your business from the perspective of your clients and customers, as well as potential employees – seeing a business that cares about, and encourages its people.