For many companies, assessing employees’ performance is viewed as a necessary evil. While everyone recognises it’s vital for both management and staff to have a clear idea of who their top performers are and where there is room for improvement, the actual process itself is frequently one of a company’s most hated activities, on both sides.

But it is not just the matter of how time-consuming or tedious performance evaluations are to conduct – there are also serious questions as to how useful they are. Research conducted in 2014 by Deloitte found more than half of companies said such activities are not an effective use of their time, while just eight per cent reported their efforts drive high levels of value.

So what can be done to change this situation and give your employee assessments the boost they need to go from being a dreaded necessity to a vital part of your firm’s strategy? Here are some of our top tips for revolutionising this and putting in place a system fit for today’s workplaces.

1. Improve your communication

A key characteristic of today’s businesses are that the days of departments or individuals working in isolation are long gone. No matter what the industry, the focus now is on instant collaboration and communication across the business, so why should your performance evaluations be any different?

That’s why one trend that’s increasingly taking off is social performance management. Inspired by consumer tools employees will already be familiar with, this uses enterprise social networking solutions such as Yammer to help personnel exchange information quickly and easily.

This could include setting goals and tracking progress in real-time, and it aims to encourage dialogue between employees and improve feedback at all levels. This can help employees understand where they need to be focusing, but also give them a much stronger voice when it comes to having their own ideas or concerns heard.

2. Rethink your objectives 

For many businesses, the process of setting out what they expect to achieve from their reviews remains rudimentary. Often, goals will involve identifying one or two key areas for staff to improve on, based upon key metrics. They will then be reviewed in the next evaluation for how well they were achieved.

But this is frequently not adequate for fully assessing an individual’s performance, and boiling a worker’s entire year down to a simple pass or fail won’t give a complete picture of what’s happening – and could lead to employee resentment if they don’t believe their efforts are adequately recognised.

To counter this, managers should take a more holistic view of their employees’ skills, asking not only what their skills are, but how the company can make best use of them. This can greatly help identify when someone may be suitable for promotion, as well as spotting weaker performers.

3. Put employees in control

Related to this, it’s also important that employees themselves have an input on their evaluations. In the past, self-assessments may prove to have limited value, with generic questions about where they think the individual or company can improve. But by encouraging staff members to take control of their own development, results can be improved.

Asking staff what they would like to improve, what professional development or training they think would benefit them, and what new assignments and challenges they would like to take on can help people gain a better idea of how they see their career developing, as well as providing a good insight into how well a business is serving its employees.

4. Make it ongoing

One effect of today’s always-connected environment is that traditional ideas of set events are being replaced with a drive towards ongoing processes. When it comes to performance evaluation, this may mean abandoning the concept of an annual – or even quarterly – review in favour of more frequent, less formal catch-ups.

This can be particularly valuable as they allow both employees and managers to raise concerns or offer feedback in a much more timely manner – doing so as soon as an issue arises, rather that waiting for a formal review.

Enterprise networking tools such as Yammer can be a great asset when implementing such systems. such technologies can allow anyone to ask for and receive feedback at any time, as well as help teams recognise positive contributions and develop a company’s culture.

To see for yourself what effective enterprise social networking technologies can do to help improve your performance evaluations, try out Yammer for free today.

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