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How to Foster Inclusivity in Performance Reviews

Performance reviews, also known as performance appraisals, offer a valuable chance for self-evaluation, feedback, and alignment between employees and their managers regarding future expectations for the coming months. These reviews enable employees to provide valuable feedback on performance while offering recommendations on ways to enhance development and improvement.

A Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) statement of intent is a key step in ensuring your DEI strategy is anchored within the overall business strategy. Organisations that have worked through the processes below are ready to write their DEI statement of intent.

Why do businesses require performance reviews?

Organisations can enhance and improve individual and organisational performance through effective management. However, performance reviews can present several challenges within organisations, that may hinder fair evaluations of employee performance. Some of the challenges include bias and subjectivity, lack of transparency and clarity, and insufficient training and skills for managers. 
To foster inclusivity during performance reviews, organisations should consider implementing the following strategies:

1. Clearly and widely communicate all steps in the process

It is possible that the performance review process is evolving, introducing new procedures of which all employees may not be familiar with. Additionally, there may also be new employees since the last performance review cycle. Therefore, it is crucial to ensure clarity and understanding of the process for all individuals involved. 

2. Be mindful of biases and stereotypes

Be aware of unconscious bias that can influence and impact evaluation during the performance review process. One prevalent bias that shows up in the performance review process is central tendency. This happens when managers cluster everyone towards the middle of the scale because it’s the ‘easy’ choice. It is essential to encourage managers to utilize the full range of performance ratings appropriately. They should evaluate each employee as a unique individual, and consider objective criteria rather then relying on stereotypes.  

3. Using clear, consistent, predetermined criteria

Firstly, it enables clear communication of the evaluation criteria used to asses employee performance. Secondly, it helps mitigate biases by ensuring consistency in evaluations across different individuals and situations. Additionally, such frameworks establish a standardized language and development standard, promoting consistency.    

Behavioural/competencies frameworks are important because they identify what objective measures of success look like upfront, before any evaluations, decisions or feedback, even happen. Every organisation must define core competencies and specific qualities that are considered important for employees to possess for the business’s future success. DEI should also be embedded into the framework to encourage a culture of respect and inclusivity. 

4. Establish a supportive environment

Self-assessments can pose challenges in the performance review process, employees may struggle to accurately judge their performance, often referred to as the confidence gap. Truly inclusive organisations support their employees by recognising this confidence gap and overcoming it when writing self-evaluations. Managers should also be mindful of how this gap manifests in the language used in self-assessments. Organisations may also recognise that performance review cycles can be a stressful period for many people and create a safe and supportive environment where employees feel comfortable expressing their thoughts and concerns and support for mental health and wellbeing.

5. Use various sources of feedback

To obtain a comprehensive and balanced view of an employee’s performance, it is essential to gather feedback from various sources, including peers, subordinates, and customers, in addition to personal appraisals. This helps provide a more comprehensive and balanced view of an employee’s performance. 

6. Offer regular feedback  

Performance evaluations shouldn’t be the only time employees receive feedback. Provide regular feedback and coaching throughout the year to help employees improve and address any concerns in a timely manner. Feedback should emphasise strengths while highlighting areas of potential growth. It is important that employees watch out for coded language when giving feedback. This language is targeted at underrepresented groups, such as ethnic minorities, women, and members of the LGBTQ+ community, and can perpetuate negative portrayals of these groups. 

Finally, a comprehensive performance management system should include providing employees with access to development opportunities to help employees enhance their skills and knowledge. Such opportunities enable individuals to enhance their skills and knowledge. Effective and inclusive performance management not only acknowledges and rewards high performance but also serves as a motivation for individuals to excel. Moreover, it aligns with an organisation’s diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) targets and goals. By implementing these strategies, employers can create a more inclusive and equitable performance review process. 

We offer an inclusive performance management audit that goes beyond traditional evaluations. Our audit provides a comprehensive understanding of the impact of your current performance management practises and evaluates both capability and DEI gaps within your organisation. Discover how our inclusive performance management audit can drive performance, promote diversity, and support your organisation’s DEI initiatives. Find out more below!

About the Author:

Susan Abumere– Managing Consultant 

Susan is a diversity, equity and inclusion expert with experience in using solution focused (SF) approaches to create behavioural and cultural changes needed to achieve the diversity, equity and inclusion goals of an organisation. Susan leads and contributes to the delivery of strategy, audit and consultancy projects for global and UK companies of different sizes and sectors. Susan is particularly passionate about promoting cultural intelligence in the workplace and helping organizations establish a global mindset in their DEI journey. She is currently undertaking doctoral research into how global organizations can adapt their DEI strategy to fit different cultural contexts at Alliance Manchester Business School.

Find out more about Inclusive Performance Reviews today!

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