Future of Appraisals: Transforming to Performance Enablement

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Appraisals – the word evokes emotions as well as excitement in the employees. Generally, it’s an annual ritual which is considered as a ‘necessary evil’ in the employee life cycle. This process, instituted as part of the ‘Command and Control’ Organisation designs and Management practice, focuses on ‘Goal Setting’ and ‘Goal Achievement’ – and that’s it. More than on the strengths, the discussions are more on so called ‘weaknesses’ of the employees, which inhibited them from achieving more.

As the Management practices and organisation designs are changing and workplaces of the future are becoming more dynamic, agile, open and focused on continuous learning, this approach towards Performance Management also needs to undergo a transformation. And there is a subtle transformation going on across the corporate world!

“More than Performance Appraisal or even Performance Management, the future lies in moving towards Performance Enablement. From ‘weakness’ oriented approach, the shift needs to be towards ‘strength’ based approach, which is engagement focussed”

Organisations need to evoke performance from within, thus helping the employees give their best. Rather than year-end dialogue, the Performance Enablement needs to be a continuous process which is based on developing Growth Mindset, so that there is consistent development and improvement in performance.

Performance Enablement Discussions need not wait for a specific time period in a year or for a specific milestone; these discussions can even be quick anytime, anywhere meetings which can range from 5 minutes to even 1 hour, depending on the need. The focus of these discussions need to be how to enable the employee achieve the objectives, how to develop them; goal achievement needs to be seen as an outcome of the development and enablement process. 

The key steps towards Performance Enablement Discussions are:

A Positive and Growth Oriented Mindset

Embracing a growth mindset helps in being positive, flexible and engaged when employees face a change. Research shows that the brain tends to generate bad stress when facing many changes, the result of this bad stress being that it makes it difficult for employees to find solutions, be creative and think deeply. This stress is reinforced when employees tend to have fixed mindset, as change is perceived as a threat. In the case of a growth mindset (i.e. confidence in one’s abilities to learn and evolve), the change is seen as an opportunity to overcome a challenge, therefore the type of stress that is generated is considered as “good stress”, enabling an effective brain work rather than hindering it.

Building Capability on Giving and Receiving the Insights

Insights and feedback are close notions. With ‘insight’, the intent is focused mainly towards the future (as in feed-forward), aiming for an ‘aha’ moment. The ‘aha’ moment occurs when suddenly the employee ‘sees’ something (a pattern) that hadn’t been seen before.

So the insight actually happens in the head of the person listening to another person’s point of view and it actively changes the structure of his/her brain. That’s what makes insights so powerful: they stick with us and trigger engagement.

As a manager or a colleague, when one provides an insight/feedback, one in fact sets the scene for an insight to occur in the brain of the person one is talking to; manager is helping the employees to reflect on themselves and to grow. So the more one seeks insights / feedback, the more one will grow and muscle the growth mindset.

Setting the Right Priorities and Ability to Modify Them as Per the Changing Business Needs

It starts with setting the clear team priorities. Manager needs to create link to the overall strategy and value drivers of the business. Thereafter align towards common team objectives and create a clear line-of-sight to individual contribution.

Next step is setting individual priorities. Drive individual performance and desired behavior by formulating individual priorities, success measures, and targets. Direct effort to support the team’s and organizations goals.

Last step is Consolidation. Ensure that all priorities align individually and as a whole are aligned to the team’s objectives. Verify that all employees’ priorities are relevant – anytime

Developing Oneself and The Team

It begins with Self-development. Practice to get comfortable with it. Practice will help transfer one’s learnings on roadblock while working on someone’ else development. Reflect on one’s own reaction in front of mistake or not enough results.

Thereafter, one can motivate& support -but not force. Employee Introspection and desire is necessary. Make them plan their learnings instead of letting it just happening. Accept difficulties and mistakes as real opportunities for growth. Support their actions, help them identify work opportunities.

Finally, walk the talk with the employees. Show the example, share your own development objectives and weaknesses, discuss openly about your own mistakes and learning from it. Show that this is a priority for the long term growth of the business by giving time to it

The future of appraisals is Performance Enablement Process which creates an environment where employees own their priorities and their development path are empowered to take initiatives, recognised for their achievements and feel listened and supported.

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Amit Sharma, VP- Human Resources at Volvo Group, In a career spanning 20 years, he has worked with top of the line organizations like TE Connectivity, Philips, Johnson & Johnson, Indian Oil and Ballarpur Industries. With focus on Business HR, he specializes across Talent Management, Employee Engagement, Organizational Development, Learning &Development, Talent Acquisition and Employee Relations. Amit is MBA(HR) from UBS, Panjab University, Chandigarh and an Engineering Graduate from Thapar Institute of Engineering & Technology, Patiala. He has also done Diploma in Training & Development from ISTD New Delhi and is certified OD Practitioner from ISABS New Delhi and certified Coach from NeuroLeadership Institute.

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