It’s that time of year when HR and L&D teams begin to plan, schedule and communicate about Mid-Year Appraisals and Performance Conversations.

In an ideal world – Managers would have been completing regular check-in conversations throughout the year, and those records would have provided a pattern of performance throughout the year rather than just one performance discussion that can have recency bias. But many organisations are not in the ideal world.

Managing Performance is typically a tug-of-war between HR and Management. HR wants more information, data and evidence of constructive conversations; managers want a simple system and time management.  Both, in fairness, want to help improve business performance and engage employees, but they come at it from different perspectives. Employees are often stuck in the middle, seeking feedback and wanting clarity of expectations for the coming year. In Biz Group, we believe Microsoft Viva will play a significant role in supporting real-time data. It won’t remove the need for Performance Conversations, but it will help streamline the process and could, in time, create an easy-to-use Performance Management system in the flow of work.

Performance Conversations, even with the best data and systems, require the skill to conduct a conversation around performance effectively. Both Appraiser and Appraisee need to come prepared to discuss perspectives, evidence and opportunities. This is like good safety training; it’s something you should ensure everyone in the company has completed, and it should be refreshed annually.

Even with the best tools, a poor conversation can trigger disengagement and ultimately cost you, as the new year brings a ‘grass is greener on the other side mentality.

Learning & Development have skin in this end-of-year game too. They are interested in the skills gaps and development plans needed to grow and retain talent. As growth plays a huge role in an employee’s engagement, Individual Development Plans are high on the L&D teams’ agenda.  The challenge is many individuals don’t know what they don’t know, and filling out these forms can be a struggle. Whilst it should also be part of the performance conversations, it is often left to individuals to complete and becomes a weekly task for the L&D team. When this personalised approach doesn’t work, it can be replaced by a ‘training needs analysis’ survey, which is a very poor relation. TNAs are often a tick-box exercise, which doesn’t give either the business or the individual the information needed to create a meaningful training strategy.

Some of our more progressive clients have invested in mapping a leader’s capability against Podium’s Leadership Insights assessments, which assess a proven set of High-Performance Leadership Behaviours needed in today’s modern workplace.

‘The Insights assessment is based on workplace leadership decision-making simulations.  In the latest version of the assessment, AI-generated avatars are used to present the simulation scenarios in a very realistic way.  The AI engine means the simulations can quickly be adapted to any language, and the appearance of the avatar can be changed to be culturally relevant, ensuring an engaging participant experience.  This is just one example of how technology is supporting assessment and development, which supports effective job performance,’ said Carl Francis, Chartered Psychologist and Podium’s EMEA Operations Director.

This assessment, which includes a Personality Analysis and Leadership Judgement test, provides a picture of their current capabilities against a global benchmark. This enables us to focus on specific development needs rather than ‘sheep dip’ solutions and enables the Leaders to complete a detailed IDP. This is then mapped against existing learning resources the client might have in platforms like LinkedIn Learning, augmented by targeting coaching, and where there are consistent patterns supported through focused leadership workshops.

Ultimately, we all want the same thing—effective Leaders and Managers and engaging and stretching Individual contributors to meet the company’s goals. Rather than a tug of war, we need to be pulling in the same direction – talk to us if you need ideas on how to improve your organisation’s Performance Conversations and IDPs.

performance management