A performance appraisal should be about identifying how to get the most out of your people. So often they fail to bring joy to anyone. Many organisations have fallen into bad habits - seeing it as a tick-box exercise to follow a HR process, or to fix short-sighted issues, writes Simon Dickinson, Marketing Manager, Membership and Corporate Engagement at BCS.

Only 55% of employees feel their appraisals are effective1, while just 28% of companies believe their performance management process is highly effective in driving business value2. In approaching the appraisal process in the wrong way, it can do more harm than good - one psychology study examined the effects of appraisals and discovered it makes performance worse a third of the time3.

So, how can you update your appraisal process to ensure it gets the most out of your people?

Think long-term for a better return

Typically, when a manager conducts an appraisal with their employee, much of the focus is on how well they’re doing against key performance indicators. If there's any areas identified where the person in under-performing, training is provided. But either that training is very specific to a task, their role or that company, or it's a much larger qualification or vendor certification that allows the business to improve their partnership status.

This is a very reactionary way to identify training requirements because you’re identifying a problem and fixing it with training.

Instead, taking a long-term view of training means that you’re aligning CPD with the organisation’s overall goals. Now the focus isn’t on plugging a gap, it’s about training your staff to take advantage of new opportunities, and empowering them to do work that has a greater impact. When taking a long-term view of CPD, you’re able to pinpoint specific qualifications or training requirements, which helps you streamline L&D spend to make a valuable investment in the future.

Don’t forget to include soft skills

Because appraisals are so focused on identifying and addressing performance issues, often the softer skills, like communication, organisation, agility and problem solving, are overlooked. And yet, arguably, they are the most important skills an employee can possess. In one survey of 1,250 HR and line of business executives, it was revealed that 66% of companies had rejected an otherwise qualified candidate for an IT role, because of deficient soft skills4.

Soft skills are valued so highly because they’re about people - how we create personal relationships and professional connections. Therefore, during the appraisal process they must be given at least equal weighting to technical skills.

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Of course, the added bonus of building those softer skills is that you signal to your employee just how much you care about them and their future. Because soft skills are highly transferable, they’re applicable to other roles and organisations. While you’re not training your team for someone else’s benefit, by investing in your employee it has the knock-on effect of increasing their job satisfaction, enhancing their motivation and earning you a reputation for being a good employer.

BCS members have access to Springboard, our very own development centre, which specialises in helping to build those softer skills.

If we're going to update your appraisal process so that it really adds value to your business, by transforming 'good' employees into 'great' ones, we need a framework for guidance.

Take a look at SFIAplus

SFIA is a competency model to underpin technical and digital talent strategies. It was developed to help employers get more from their teams, helping individuals to understand where they are within a department, where they can progress and what they need to do to get to the next level. Today, it is the industry’s most widely adopted and relevant best practice benchmark.

Within SFIA there are six modules of technical and digital skills, each containing seven levels:

  • Strategy and architecture: comprising information strategy, advice and guidance, business strategy and planning, and technical strategy and planning.
  • Change and transformation: comprising business change implementation, and business change management.
  • Development and implementation: comprising systems development, user experience, and installation and integration.
  • Delivery and operation: comprising service design, service transition, and service operation.
  • Skills and quality: comprising skill management, people management, and quality and conformance.
  • Relationships and engagement: comprising stakeholder management, and sales and marketing

However, BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, has enhanced the framework with SFIAplus, offering an additional six task components and eight skills resources per module. Choosing to study through BCS means that we can not only help you plan how to get the most out of your employees but we can help you get the most out of your training too.

View the framework and learn more about how SFIAplus works and how you can use it within your organisation by downloading our free wallchart.

Develop digital talent further with RoleModelplus

A skills development platform, RoleModelplus helps you to create role profiles using SFIAplus, and then carry out assessments against your organisational and industry aligned frameworks. Now you can have every angle covered to ensure you're getting the most out of your people with a fair, consistent and methodical way of assessing their skill competencies.

Using RoleModelplus, you can:

  • build your internal capabilities against the core business strategy and objectives;
  • invest in the right training for each employee;
  • effectively transfer internal skills between projects and departments;
  • provide a detailed career path to help your people progress to the next level.

And you're not on your own, because BCS will appoint dedicated personnel to help oversee your training and ensure it's delivering the results you need.

Find out more about RoleModelplus

If you’re keen to evolve your performance appraisal process to ensure you’re getting the best out of your people and supporting your business to achieve its strategic goals, take a look at how RoleModelplus can help you develop your digital and technical capabilities.

More about RoleModelplus