Monday January 16, 2012
By Helen Flint, Development Director, learnpurple
It’s appraisal time in our organisation and I’ve already conducted my first one last week. Unsurprisingly, we use our automated on-line talent management system, talent toolbox™. And using going through this process reminded me just what a brilliant product it is.
And I’m not just saying that just because learnpurple created it. It’s important not to forget the value that a rich one-to one review can bring to both parties. The power of a great appraisal tool is the great opportunity it gives to celebrate the various successes and achievements of the individual. Research has proven that this has a big impact on motivation and engagement levels.
It is almost too easy to get caught up in the day- to- day issues of running a business and forget the genuine value of the appraisal. Regularly reviewing your people can be a huge benefit to both the business and the individual. Handled badly an appraisal can become a 'tick the box' exercise that causes a great deal of anxiety on both 'sides' and once completed isn’t looked at again till until the next time. Handled well, it becomes an agreed summary of what has been happening on an on-going basis between appraisals, providing managers with opportunities to support and guide their people.
In the workplace we all need to be engaged in the idea that managing people - and being managed - is constant. And that is where automated systems such as talent toolbox™ really come in to their own.
One of the failures of old fashioned systems has always been the fact that those systems are used sporadically and not as part of the daily management of people. In fact it is often sometimes the case that difficult feedback gets postponed or sugar-coated, or even worse, lied about on paper appraisal forms. This is often because the appraisee and appraiser have no idea what is about to come up in the review, and think avoiding contentious issues will reduce conflict.
The automated system I used ensures that everyone would be prepared prior to the meeting. I loved the fact that both parties have the opportunity to see the pre-appraisal notes beforehand. The system also gives the appraiser time to come up with ideas and/or solutions to things that the appraisee has highlighted. Therefore there are no surprises, and the appraisee and indeed the appraiser, don’t have to waste time worrying about stepping into the unknown.
Talking about the unknown – I’m a bit of a technophobe, so I was a little anxious beforehand as I hadn’t used the new interface before. To my delight it was much easier to use than I’d ever had imagined, with some great new features that were easy to navigate around.
I particularly liked the continuous save which meant I wasn’t in constant fear of losing anything if I lost internet connection or suffered some other IT malfunction. The new ‘save and complete later’ was totally user-friendly – with some automated systems you can end up accidently completing and be unable to regain access - so talent toolbox™ has a failsafe built in to prevent this from happening. It also follows a logical process, creating a consistent standard throughout; which meaning that all the key areas and competencies are covered in the same way with everyone. This summary acts as an important reminder of the value that each individual brings to a business, often in different and sometimes subtle ways.
The happy score is also very important as this shows how engaged your people are. Interestingly, this was the only score that one of our key clients was interested in – their formula for success was simply, a happy workforce equalled a profitable business. This isn’t as usual as it sounds - unhappy employees often demonstrate low engagement levels which means so will be their productivity and performance; which of course impacts directly on the business. The review meeting gives you a great opportunity to get to the bottom of what might be causing low engagement levels or how to maintain levels when your people are highly engaged.
The ‘how will we make it happen’ section and setting timelines for actions were real bonuses, for me. Being a coach, I understand the importance and power of goal setting. It provides a great opportunity to discuss development needs and create a plan to ensure that individuals meet their full potential. Not being a great lover of typing up notes post-meetings, I also particularly liked the fact that this is agreed and carried out in the appraisal; saving time for everyone. It also means that the notes are more accurate than if they’re written up after the event so there is less chance of misinterpretation.
As a manager in a growing business, I believe it’s really important that as a business we manage peoples’ aspirations effectively. I found talent toolbox™ really helps us to do this. (Sometimes even providing us with some nice surprises!) It also encourages the individual to think about what they really want and to consider a career path and/or opportunity within the business - sometimes one we may not even have previously thought of. It’s an honest dialogue in which accommodation of all parties expectations can be planned.
The power of a great appraisal tool is the great opportunity it gives to celebrate the various successes and achievements of the individual. Research has proven that this has a big impact on motivation and engagement levels.
Have you felt the power of appraisal? What impact has it had on your business?