South African research uncovers doubt behind corporate performance appraisals.

Performance appraisals are an important management tool that can impact the company culture if not administered correctly, says Helene Vermaak, director at The Human Edge. Yet research has revealed that 32% of South African managers believe that the performance management process has little value. “This is extremely concerning as the best performing company cultures promote performance conversations and encourage all employees to provide regular feedback and hold accountability conversations.”

Vermaak says that considering these results it is no surprise that 78% of respondents reported that they have to take on additional work every week to compensate for under-performing staff. 70% of respondents found that bad habits addressed in the appraisal session resurface within 3 months and 66% of managers believe that they have to raise concerns twice or more to see an improvement.

Performance conversations need to take place in a safe environment, says Vermaak. A safe environment will be classified as a private area, with enough time allowed for the right conversation to take place and that a purpose is established and clarified upfront. “When you are trying to influence people who need motivation, but not information, don’t offer more information. Instead, use questions to create a safe environment where they can explore motivations they already have.”

In spite of the reservations about the effectiveness of performance appraisals, 78% of South African managers believe that they are skilled to handle these conversations, with 76% being confident of challenging employees for underperforming or missing targets the first or second time it happens. 75% of respondents revealed that they spend twenty minutes or more preparing for performance conversations. “This is encouraging as the more time spent in preparation for such a conversation, the better prepared the manager will be to address any concerns.”

Unfortunately 69% of respondents don’t utilise effective skills for holding employees accountable and achieving real and sustainable behaviour change “”By applying crucial accountability and conversation skills managers will learn to practice effective social interaction. As they experience more success when conducting performance conversations and witness changing behaviour they will become more confident,” concludes Vermaak.

The Human Edge will be hosting public training programmes on the 14th to the 15th of October and on the 28th of October that will explore and teach attendees the effective skills required to hold performance conversations and hold employees accountable