5 Performance Appraisal Insights for Startups in Remote Working

[Written by Shankar Krishnamoorthy, Synergita]

Established enterprises often experiment with traditional and modern methods of performance appraisal and have moved from 360 degrees appraisal to more focused and sophisticated systems like Objective and Key Results (OKRs). Whereas many startups and SMEs do not have a proper guide to set up a performance management system that works for them. This is more glaring in the new normal of remote working. The end goal to generate revenue always puts startups and SMEs in a tight spot. Hence, companies look for an effective performance management system rather than creating one suitable for them. Startups function differently from conventional corporations and their Employee Performance Management System also needs a different approach.

Startups and SMEs are not process-driven, but result oriented. They set dynamic goals and expect an immediate outcome. And their biggest challenge is retaining resourceful talents to develop the business. Performance appraisal is one of the processes, which plays a vital role in retaining resourceful employees. Performance management when properly streamlined helps a company to grow and provide opportunities for the employees to learn and develop their career within the system.

These five insights every startup should keep in mind for performance appraisal:

Goal setting and performance appraisal are two different processes

From the beginning and through their tenure, employees need to know their strengths and improvement areas. Performance appraisal meetings should be designed only to discuss the performance of employees. This meeting should not be clubbed with goal setting processes and separate meetings should be held for the same. The development and growth of an individual employee should be the primary focus of the performance review process.

Giving clear goals, objectives and conducting regular check-ins to measure progress goes a long way in maintaining the productivity of your employees. Lack of proper guidance and timely intervention cause employees to drift away from their stated objectives. Appraisal meetings should be conducted with video mandatory calls and let the employees see how the managers are sincere and committed to employee development and growth.

Frequency of process decides the motivation level of employees

Startups work philosophy is “Fail fast Learn Faster”. To determine whether an approach is a success or failure and to learn faster, it is imperative for startups or SMEs to conduct frequent performance evaluation meetings. The process should take place at least once a quarter. The employees tend to lose interest when they do not know about their contribution to the company and where they stand in terms of performance.

In remote working, the frequency can be increased to monthly, with a quick appraisal cycle for short-term goals. It helps you balance your productivity and reaching business goals.

360-degree feedback promotes openness

360-degree feedback empowers employees. A performance conversation is not a forum to point at an employee’s mistakes. Instead, it should be a platform for the employee and the employer to learn from them. Employees should be encouraged to share feedback on their immediate superiors and the company. They should also receive feedback from their managers, peers, and clients. Peer feedback allows employees to be better team players and promotes harmonious relationships among peers. The startup and SMEs need to make this shift from feedback to feed-forward. 360-degree feedback also can pave the way for self-awareness by allowing an employee to rate himself/herself and share observations on his/her performance.

The collaboration between individuals takes precedence than team collaboration in remote work. Peers, who are working together for a common goal can objectively give 360 feedback about others which is beneficial to identify perceptions, team dynamics and personal development.

Repudiate “everyone fits the same mold”; practice “personalization”

Practicing personalization is much easier for Startups as their employee size is much smaller and everyone knows each other personally as they pool their time and efforts for business growth. You can create personalized reward programs for your employees based on their personal preferences. An employee who has the green thumb would appreciate an organic grow kit of seeds, soil and stylish pots. The personalization can be extended to providing customized training programs for their career growth. In remote working personalized rewards and training recommendations reinforces that you care employees as your own.

Giving importance to an individual employee brings the best out of them and increases productivity within a short period. Understanding the needs of the employee helps a startup to provide the required training to that employee and focus on his/her development.

Employee engagement retains talent and increases productivity

Engaged employees are more productive, more customer-focused and more loyal – and companies with high levels of employee engagement are more profitable. People-centric culture, employee-friendly benefits, and employees’ wellness should be given importance and considered as key factors for talent management.

Remote working emphasizes the need to have a balanced work life. Employee burnout would be a common phenomenon especially in the wake of the forced remote working if there is no balance between their personal and professional lives. This in turn leads to an increase in employee turnover and decreased productivity.

For a company of a smaller workforce, these approaches are the primary steps towards an effective performance appraisal system. Talent production and management should not be taken lightly by startups and SMEs as talents decide the future of the company.

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