Elan Synergita

There is a general feeling that performance appraisals are subjective and that when managers rate their team members, a certain bit of bias seems to creep in. This thought process leads to unnecessary friction between the managers and employees.

Can we eliminate the subjectivity in performance appraisals by automating the rating?

Sometimes, people ask us if we can automate the rating completely using our software. So, they expect that the rating should be automatically given based on employee’s performance and pre-defined rating for such performance and managers would not be responsible for rating the performance.

So, can rating automation be a solution to remove the subjectivity in appraisals? In reality, will it be possible to remove the subjectivity element and automate the rating completely, without a manager’s involvement? This is definitely a point to ponder on.

First, let us understand the parameters or the dimensions which are rated, as part of the performance appraisals. Generally, there are set of performance dimensions or goals that an employee is required to achieve during the course of a year. Also, there are a set of behavioral dimensions which an employee needs to exhibit to fulfill these goals. So, generally, rating is given to both these dimensions, but the weight-age may vary between both.

Problems in automating the rating

The following are some practical problems that we will face, when we try to automate the rating during a performance appraisal:

1) Performance dimensions or goals are generally quantifiable. But, for employees working in some departments, setting SMART goals may be quite a challenging task. For instance, defining quantifiable goals for a sales department is much more easier, than defining goals for people working in a functional team.

2) Even when goals are quantifiable, setting proper performance measures might be difficult. This will lead to difficulties in finding out the actual achieved numbers. So the input of the actual achieved numbers (against a target) would be done by a manager or an employee manually, and there is bound to be some subjectivity in entering those numbers.

3) Behavioral dimensions, like communication skills, cannot be quantified. So, automation of rating cannot be considered for rating behavioral dimensions, and so the bias element cannot be totally eliminated.

4) Even if we consider that automation of rating is possible, the inability to meet the performance target by an employee might be due to various external reasons outside of the control of the employee. Penalizing a person for this by automating a rating might be too harsh. Some subjectivity of manager involvement in such cases would be better.

From India, Chennai
Dinesh Divekar

Dear Elan,

You have expressed your views through your article. Good thoughts however, I have some different take. My views are as below:

a) Performance Management System (PMS) is not about measures or taking aid of software. The important fact is whether you measure what need to be measured. You may instal very costly software but what if you do not include certain measures? For examples, how many HR measure spread of the training efforts i.e. "% of staffs who did not take single day training in the financial year"? There are several measures like this.

b) The person who designs measures needs to have understanding of multiple department. Mere being a Subject Matter Expert (SME) of one subject is not sufficient.

c) Designing KPIs is not job of HR. Every HOD should be capable to do it.

d) You have given example of communication skills as one of the attribute in Performance Appraisal (PA). Behavioural competencies can be measured separately. Why you wish to include them in Performance Appraisal? Measurement of behavioural competencies requires different expertise and particular HOD may not be competent to do that.

e) Before taking any assignment, it is important to decide how the outcome will be measured. Otherwise the work has got no meaning at all. What you have written in typical Indian context. In India not necessarily measures of performance are designed well in advance.

Related to this are my following replies. You may check these replies:




Dinesh V Divekar


From India, Bangalore
Elan Synergita

Annual employee review is a traditional practice followed in every organization. Why do organizations have annual reviews at the first place? Basically, it is carried out to monitor employees’ performance. The question is how is it possible for the managers to remember a year’s worth of employees’ activities? Therefore, once a year review is too late as managers cannot judge an entire year’s performance of an employee at one time. The most feasible feedback method is the regular employee feedback or continuous employees feedback. It is an ongoing debate if continuous employee feedback is better or annual feedback is better.

So, let us catch on some points that describe how continuous employee feedback is better than annual feedback!

Continuous employee feedback helps keep a balance between positive and negative feedback. We often think that better feedback means honest criticism, which is not true. At annual feedback, managers do not get much time to think and recollect about each employee’s contribution. Therefore, at the time of feedback delivery, it becomes difficult to balance positive and negative feedback. When seen as a whole, this kind of feedback will do no good to the employees.

Annual feedback is way too far to think about training and development. Whereas, in continuous feedback, employees are tracked regularly and if required are given proper training to enhance their efficiency.

Managers get to initiate employee engagement with continuous employee feedback process. Employee engagement gives rise to many discussions that takes work to higher level. More you discuss, more opinions and ideas are gathered which will in turn help the project/work get better.

Mis-communication is one thing that lets down a lot of activities at workplace. More than 80% of issues at workplace are due to mis-communications. Continuous employee feedback helps clarify mis-communications, keeping employees and organization in sync and on track.

Talking about performance regularly lets employees set a goal for themselves. When employees know what value their contributions really hold, they are motivated to perform better than before. It is a good thing for the organization and for the employees too.

So, why not implement continuous employee feedback system when there is a software to help you do it!

From India, Chennai

Continuous feedback system is the best performance review process for start-up organisation. There is a software "Better Feedback" which will help you to know more about the system. The outline of the software is it focus on: Motivate & align employees, Create a performance culture, Track progress & Achievement & Increase Productivity. This type of process is Known as KAIZEN ( Continuous Improvement) In Japan it is known as Adopt Change. This feedback system needs careful observation as it mainly deals with Risk Factor where heavy manufacturing process are carried out.
Hope the information will help you.
Good Luck!!!

From India, Bhubaneswar
Elan Synergita

Recruiting right people to the right job is one of the most important responsibilities of an HR Manager. Even after performing this responsibility well, he cannot sit back and relax. He has another challenge that is to retain the good talent that was hired by him.

Factors that motivate employees to continue in a job include job satisfaction, career development, recognition of good work, having understanding managers and so on. While “good pay” is also one of them, it does not fall under the main motivators that delight the employee. Thus, by having a good employee performance management culture and policy in place, an HR manager can ensure that the employee’s expectations from the company are met. This would in turn bring down the attrition rate and also ensure long term loyalty of the employees to their organization.

Therefore, the basic foundation, as we understand, is to define good employee performance management policies that reduce attrition rate in an organization.

employee performance management to reduce employee attrition Employee performance management increases employee retention rate

Here are the main factors that would help lower employee attrition rate.

1) Define the right set of competencies for different job roles. An ability to customize this for individuals would be an added advantage.

2) Set standardized goals for the job roles, with an ability to customize for each individual. Also, employees goals would have to align with the organization goals.

3) Convey the job expectations to the employee clearly, well in advance.

4) Allow objective appraisals as much as possible. This can be achieved by:

Timing the feedback closer to the incident. (Interim feedback)

Getting feedback from multi-raters.

Social recognition to identify good performance.

Reward the good performers.

5) Define an annual appraisal process which is simple. Activities should be kept to the minimum and the important ones, like rating and career development meeting should be given importance. Approval mechanism should be simple and clear. Simplicity is the key for effective use.

6) The end result of appraisals should be aimed for career development of an employee. Ability to define career development plans and tracking to closure would be good.

Once these policies are base-lined, organizations can look into automating them with clear, customizable performance management software, to reduce the amount of manual efforts.

Therefore, having better employee performance management policies will not only minimize the employee attrition, but also enhances their efficiency helping the organization touch the heights of success.

From India, Chennai
Elan Synergita

Employee performance is usually measured in terms of results and time. But what I feel is just time and result cannot be the parameters to measure employee performance. For example: An employee who shows 9 hours on his worksheet might have wasted most of his time or might have not made much within those hours. Whereas, an employee who works for 5 hours a day might have delivered more on the project he is working on.

Therefore, there are other parameters to measure employee performance.

Parameters to measure employee performance

Creativity: Creativity is not quantifiable, but it is very important as it adds an extra glare to the work you do. Creativity in the work you do shows that you can think in different terms to make the outcome look better and get the best results. So, an employee can measured in terms of his/her creative ability.

Communication: Creativity is understood and achieved only when you can are able to communicate it to your team. Therefore, communication is also one of the parameters to be considered during evaluation.

Absenteeism: To put thoughts into action, it is very important for the employees to be at work. An employee is obviously not performing when he or she is not at work.

Obedience to company policies: It is difficult to be creative and abide by the rules and regulations at the same time. But, when employees can align both of it, then noting like it! It perfectly shows their efficiency.

Personal habits: Talking over the phone for long hours, not being in their seat during work hours, gossiping, sharing tips and recipes during the meetings, throwing attitude, passing comments and so on are not signs of and efficient employee. Therefore, personal habits do becomes a parameter to measure employee performance.

Take initiative: Employees who take initiative expresses his want to learn more to better his work. Organizations always look for employees who are keen to learn and explore more about their industry. Employee performance cam is also measured on this.

From India, Chennai
Elan Synergita

Often we hear the term employee recognition being discussed in various forums. Time and again, the best strategies for effective employee recognition have been debated and various theories have been brought about. This entire buzz around employee recognition happens because most organizations and HR professionals do realize the value and impact that good employee recognition can create.

Having recognized the importance and impact that positive employee appreciation can create, many organizations device various sorts of employee recognition plans that they think will best suit their organization. They spend a lot of time and resources in defining how each type of recognition should take place and also painstakingly define a process around it. Although it is good to have a well-defined set of rules on how and why appreciations should be given to employees, many a time, the true sense of purpose for which recognitions are meant to be are lost in the haywire of tedious processes.

Organizations who spend so much of time to define ‘how’ and ‘why’ recognition should take place, often fail to address one another, yet very important dimension of “when” the recognition ought to be done. Thus all efforts spent towards the meticulous planning usually end up as a bad recognition plan and the positive outcomes sought after employee appreciations are never realized. Due to this many organizations who enthusiastically sought to derive recognition plans often lose their interest and the whole process silently withers away.

Timely appreciations are a true key to trigger those positive outcomes desired by many organizations. When an employee receives appreciation right after he has done a great job, the joy he experiences on receiving this note of appreciation or recognition is manifold by many times and so does his motivation to repeat similar behavior or perform even better. While he might still be happy to receive a delayed appreciation, the zeal is lost and so it becomes difficult to reinforce the desired behavior of excellent performance.

Highly motivated employees are true assets to any organization. They create a positive energy that is contagious in the work sphere and thus serve as catalysts to motivate the entire workforce to achieve positive outcomes. Thus, timely appreciations, recognition and rewards are a sure shot to build and promote top notch performance and a positive attitude among the workforce in organizations.

From India, Chennai
Bob Gately

Positive employee appreciation may work but only if the employee believes that the appreciation is genuine and deserved. In other works, don’t lie.
From United States, Chelsea
Dinesh Divekar

Dear Elan Synergita,

Would you mind to share the source of your article or information?

If you have written the above article then there appears to be serious misgivings on PMS in your mind. I humbly request you to read few books on PMS, KPIs, KRAs etc and clear your doubts.

I help companies in designing and instituting Performance Management System (PMS) in the company. To know more about instituting PMS in the company, you click here to refer my past post.

There is lot of misconception on the concept of KPI and KRA. To remove this misconception, I have uploaded my presentation on Youtube. To refer that video, you may click here.

I handle consulting on PMS. To know more about my services, you may click here.


Dinesh V Divekar

From India, Bangalore
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