Take a deep breath because it’s our favorite time of the year…. annual employee performance appraisals! I think HR professionals would agree that unless you have implemented some innovative ways to connect with employees, this is not the time when HR is the most popular. Unfortunately, this practice has negative connotations like, “it doesn’t mean anything”, “it’s a waste of time” and “HR made me do it”! If these are common phrases that your leadership teams share, it is time to get your performance appraisal system off life support!

As HR leaders, we must believe in the performance evaluation value in order to connect this process to company success. If you haven’t made changes to your employee performance evaluation process in over three years, you are long overdue. So how can HR get a new perspective to this critical, talent management process?

1. Ask For Employee Feedback
Don’t be afraid to hear things that need to be fixed. Much like product development, we must keep in touch with our consumers in order to continue the relationship. Ask your leadership team and employees what they like and want for improvements. Conduct a couple of focus groups and facilitate an open discussion of the perceptions and challenges. Don’t defend the process, listen for areas of improvement.

2. Lead the Commitment to Talent Management vs. Appraisal Process
Performance Management initiatives must be incorporated into the overall “Talent Management” values of the organization. HR can lead discussions with top management to replace the “old” perceptions with new language. Begin to describe your process with similar phrases like:

“Evaluating our internal talent pool; Recognizing our “go to” players who get things done; Identifying employees who exhibit behaviors that support our company value; Know our employees who create company success through the daily execution of their accountabilities.”

Imagine the anticipation managers would have to formally identifying their game changing employees.

3. Define Talent Management as a Competitive Advantage
Companies have prioritized their hiring and on-boarding processes. They are very proud of the candidate and new hire experience. It is time to continue those best practices to include the entire career cycle of an employee. After the orientation process is complete, companies are at the mercy of the employee experience to determine if the resources dedicated to new hires are invested well or are the employees disengaged and preparing to walk out the door to a competitor? What gives talent management strategies a competitive edge? Personal development plans, Career development plans, succession planning and rotation programs. These valuable approaches to talent management give talented employees exposure to multiple areas of the company.

4. Evaluate the Take-Aways from the Past Two Years of Performance Evaluations
How has your company used the performance appraisal system feedback to develop your employees? Do you know who your top performers are and do they have a plan with their managers to take on more challenging projects? Do you know which supervisors develop the most productive and successful employees? Last of all, do you sit down with your leadership team to evaluate how the organizational talent is performing and contributing to the success of the organization? Are you rewarding the employees who demonstrate the behavior that drives the success of your company?

Performance appraisals host a wealth of information about the status of company employees. Overall employee performance, strengths and development areas help the organization to know if employees are ready to take the company to the next level. HR must be free up from primarily being a “Transactional” department to a “Strategic” leader. Once HR processes are completed, it’s not over until you have identified training, resources and development plans to keep your internal talent.

Make the commitment for 2012 to be different. Strike a couple of traditional HR program descriptions and use some innovative approaches to identify, develop and keep your best talent.

Performance management includes the ability to quickly identify key individuals in an organization to understand your bench strength. Business initiatives change daily and you must know who can execute, reliably, based upon their past performance.

Looking for a system to make Performance Management a strategic advantage? BullseyeEvaluation offers a web based solution to help shift the culture of expectations for your company.

At Bullseye Performance Management Systems, we believe HR Professionals are operational and strategic partners when managing an organization.

Author's Bio: 

Pat Bell is an HR Advisor with Bullseye Evaluations. BullsEyeEvaluation offers Employee Performance Evaluation, Performance Management Systems & Performance Appraisal System