Have you considered how the HR processes in your business ‘condition’ your employees? Do you take a close look at the impact that they have on the psychological contract and engagement? Do you consider the extent to which management practices support your employer brand? Do your processes such as appraisal reflect how your business is, or was or is trying to be? Is it possible that how employees ‘feel’ about one process impacts their perception of and participation in others?
Let’s consider an example using the appraisal process.
It’s appraisal time again and line managers are not looking forward to having to spend the time completing the paper work and employees generally aren’t looking forward to the dreaded appraisal meeting itself. Unresolved issues that have been under the surface most of the year are going to be dragged out and documented and the usual unbearable ‘schmoosing’ upward to management will start if it hasn’t already behind closed doors. Everyone will get given a ‘rating’ or score that they don’t understand and by some process that is shrouded in secrecy. Some say that the score is used for bonus, some say a bad score will put you ‘into the departure lounge’. It’s not good that John (a colleague) and I haven’t been seeing eye to eye lately and if he’s going to be giving me some sort of a score, he’ll put the knife in. Best I do too then. I’m not sure the forms we use really apply to my role and my Manager doesn’t really understand the realities of the job I do, so we end up with these either circular or inconclusive discussions that inevitably require me to sign off on some vague action we all know won’t happen. After all of this, it gets filed away and only used again if they want to stop me suing them if I get sacked or made redundant. The output of all of this seems pointless at best and everyone would rather not do it, but we have no choice on how, when and whether it’s done.
Clearly, there’s something wrong with this performance appraisal and management process. We all know it as we see these problems, but often the root causes might appear elusive or beyond our ability to address. We hear this sentiment expressed regularly by the HR professionals we work with and there is plenty of anecdotal evidence in literature, blogs and articles. Do you ask about the appraisal process in your Exit interviews?
Just by looking at the example we can see issues of process, purpose, secrecy, relevance and consequently buy-in. Also what does this type of feedback say about how the organisation is run and what type of culture exists here? Similarly, with this process firmly in place and established as an organisational ritual, how are other, possibly better considered, constructed and more impactful HR processes and initiatives received? To a new recruit, candidate or even someone considering their next move in the organisation, does the above suggest an open, trusting, respectful or progressive working environment?
The buck stops here, as usual.
As HR professionals, we have a huge opportunity (and some would say responsibility) to ensure that the processes we introduce and advocate all contribute to the positive development of organisational culture and levels of engagement. What do you think?