The end of the HR paper appraisal trail

Janine Milne Profile picture for user jmilne September 24, 2015
Ditching paper and PDFs for a cloud-based system takes the performance out of performance management for Community Solutions

Performance measuring

Annual performance appraisals aren’t an activity that most managers or employees look forward to – particularly when that involves filling a paper form.

It’s time consuming, inflexible and the fact that it’s on paper makes it difficult for senior managers to be able to get a global view of what’s going on with performance across the organization.

This was the situation for UK property management firm, Community Solutions, which handles everything from planning, design and property management for public-sector building projects. According to Community Solutions director, Peter Cox:

Appraisals had to be handwritten and saved as pdfs. It was just really cumbersome, whereas using a cloud-based system, it’s just easy. It’s a living copy through the year.

Ripping up the paper process in favour of a cloud-based appraisal system from Dinamiks has made the appraisal system far less of a chore. No photocopies, no paper, no bulging filing cabinets.

Instead, employees can log on to the system and update information when their achievements are still fresh in the mind, rather than wait for the quarterly review or year-end appraisal, when they may have forgotten some of the details.

Opting for a cloud-based solution was just a means to an end, says Cox:

I’m not so interested in the tech side, what I wanted was the accessibility for the people working at home or on their mobile to be able to access it.

New approach

The Dinamiks system has more than simply automated a manual task, it was also a chance to change the way the firm approaches performance management.

In particular, Community Solutions wanted to be able to spot training and development requirements of individual employees. It was also looking for an easy way to see whether the performance of individuals and groups were hitting the company’s organizational and personal goals.

This was particularly important when it came to calculating the annual bonuses of staff, which are linked to performance. Cox notes:

In the past, there was no discernible tally back to objectives. Senior managers can now look how employees are performing easily.

With Dinamiks on board, employees are far more aware of both the organizational and personal objectives, and how their individual efforts impact those organizational goals. With everything online and easily assessable, Cox says that everyone is far clearer on the business objectives. It’s good for employees and good for their managers.

For Cox, one of the key benefits is that senior managers are now able to spot performance trends across the whole company, which was difficult to do before with a paper-based system.

But now it’s easy to be able to look across the company and create reports to look at training development costs, for example. It also makes it far easier to make year-on-year comparisons of appraisals, which is useful.

Community Solutions has since enhanced the training module to provide more information about training and development needs and ensure that training is tightly focused with business objectives.

Cox had put together an “idiots guide” to the system when it was about to go live, but apart from a few early teething problem, there’s been little need for any training. It’s so straightforward and intuitive to use that when new recruits join the 95-strong company, they rarely need anything more than a few tips from their neighbour to be up and running.

It’s working well, but Cox is hoping to do more work on its competency frameworks, so that employees can clearly see which competencies they need to move into a different role.

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