Over the past few years the debate about talent retention has been characterised as a debate about performance appraisal ratings – whether or not they are fair, and whether or not they achieve their stated objectives. But perhaps the spotlight needs to be focussed from a different vantage point, says Harvard Business Review. It’s not so much that ratings fail to convey what the organisation knows about each person but that the underlined knowledge is sadly one-dimensional.
“In the end, it’s not the particular number we assign to a person that’s the problem; rather, it’s the fact that there is a single number,” the Harvard Business Review research report states. “Ratings are a distillation of the truth – and up until now, one might argue, a necessary one. Yet, we want our organisations to know us, and we want to know ourselves at work…and that can’t be compressed into a single number.”
Josh Bersin, founder and principal at Bersin by Deloitte, echoes this concern: “People are inspired and motivated by positive, constructive feedback – and the traditional appraisal process almost always works against this. The most valuable part of an appraisal is the development planning conversation – what can one do to improve performance and engagement – and this is often left to a small box on the review form.”
Two-thirds of large companies are considering revamping their appraisals process, with one in 20 looking to scrap formal evaluations entirely, says PriceWaterhouseCoopers. PwC’s 2015 Performance Management Research revealed that more companies were focusing on creating a continuous feedback culture, rather than relying on once-a-year reviews.
Senior executives need to reinforce the message that employees earmarked as ‘strong performers’ are not primarily an acknowledgment of past accomplishment but mainly an assessment of future contribution. The company’s talent-management initiatives must challenge and cultivate rising stars, not just celebrate today’s high achievers
An organisation’s most talented employees can have meaningful effects across the business. But when up-and-coming talent is misidentified, overlooked or unrewarded, these individuals become an encumbrance on overall performance. Even worse, their disengagement and eventual derailment can lead to depleted leadership ranks and damage employee commitment and retention across the firm.