14 January 2014

Training and feedback at the workplace

It’s a new year, and you may have new resolutions for a career, possibly based on the annual performance review. I asked “CT”*, a Senior HR practitioner who has more than 20 years’ experience both in the private and public sector, about her views on performance reviews.

It is important to be able to distinguish the top 5% from the bottom 5%. So for management – reviews work,” CT shared. However, they may not be so useful for the individual employee, she said.

“If there is little ability to be creative in the role, then reviews may not be necessary as there may be very few areas in which the employee can distinguish himself,” she explained. “Also, if the roles are significantly different, there may be no clear baseline to compare employees against each other."

According to CT, there are alternative ways to give feedback to help employees improve. “Reviews may not be timely,” she pointed out, as they are typically carried out every six to 12 months. 

“Immediate feedback would be more useful for the employee to understand where he should have done better; and to give the employee the opportunity to put the feedback into practice, to recover, make amends or improve.”

Training is often cited as another way to help employees improve in their work. “For junior staff, it’s always about being expert in the breadth and depth of the specific function, so the training would tend to be subject-specific,” CT said.

Senior staff should sharpen their aptitude to engage at various levels. “Communications and the ability to analyse situations are key. The ability to see and plan long-term are key in senior roles, but equally important is the ability to communicate to ensure successful project implementations,” said CT.

*Not her real name

*CT is available for consultation sessions.