Appraisals are something of a sticky subject in the marketing recruitment process and for creative agencies. On the one hand, people tend to see them as a process-driven pain that take away creativity and add yet more admin pressure, whilst on the other hand HR Managers sing their praises and say they are fundamental to a business’ success. But however you feel about them, there’s no denying that appraisals are necessary part of your marketing recruitment strategy if you want your business to grow, your workforce to progress and everyone in your agency to be happy.
What are appraisals?
An appraisal or performance review focuses on the performance and development of each employee. Basically, they’re a kind of individual plan for each member of staff to make sure they have the tools and support they need to do their very best in their role. A good appraisal should include a number of factors, such as the employee’s job, responsibilities, participation within the team and their overall contribution to the business - and by identifying specific areas for each employee to focus on it means they can go above and beyond in their role. Appraisals have a bit of a bad rep, with most people picturing them involving lots of paperwork in an impersonal meeting room whilst dealing with onslaught of complaints. But it doesn’t have to be that way...
Appraisals and the creative employee
To get the most out of your employees, they need to be challenged and given every opportunity to explore different ideas - and in order to do so you need to identify their strengths and weakness so you can help them grow. When it comes to appraisals, you need to think outside the box. You're not going to have the same appraisal process as you would for an accountant; creatives are complex people and you can’t just put a score on creativity or ask them to showcase their inspiration in a meeting room. It’s less about tracking, and more about keeping them inspired - so you need to steer clear of scores and think of another way to review their performance. How? That’s where we come in. Read on for our top tips on how you can take the pain out a creative appraisals and get the most out of your employees.
The art of a good appraisal
Everybody wants to know how they’re doing - and very few people actually want to do a bad job. That's why feedback on performance is vital if you want to ensure your team are motivated and raring to go. But how do you deliver an appraisal with a difference to ensure everyone is getting the most out of it and it’s not just another thing you’re ticking off the list?
1. Have regular one-to-ones
Instead of letting any problems or issues fester for six or 12 months before an appraisal meeting, try having regular one-to-ones throughout the year as well. Not only does that mean you can nip any problems in the bud as and when they happen, but because there will be no big surprises in the appraisal itself, it will make the whole experience more positive.
2. Encourage a two-way discussion
Creative appraisals should ideally be tailored to each employee rather than a standard one-size-fits all criteria. By encouraging a two-way discussion, creatives and directors can both get their opinions heard and make sure they understand each other and how their skills work together to ensure they continue to work as a team.
3. Understand their goals
As a Creative Director or Manager, it’s important that you clearly understand the goals and career paths of your employees so you can help them develop and grow - which will in turn benefit your business. By understanding their goals, you can challenge their ideas and encourage creativity to help them improve.
4. Location, location, location
When you think of an appraisal, you think of a soulless meeting room. But it doesn’t have to be like that! Go outside, take a walk, grab a coffee, even go for lunch - by taking the appraisal out of the office environment, both parties will be more relaxed and willing to open up and collaborate ideas moving forward.
5. Communicate and challenge
You can’t expect to get the most out of your creative team if you bark orders at them. You need to both listen to each others’ points of view and communicate effectively if you want to ensure optimum creativity and motivation. Saying that though, don’t be afraid to challenge when needed to make sure they keep improving.
6. Consider self-assessment
Prior to the meeting, ask your employees to reflect on their own performance and identify their own weaknesses. Most will include their negative points and need help to see the positives - which is a much more pleasant conversation to be having than reeling off a list of what they’ve been doing wrong. And it also makes your staff feel as if their opinion is valued, too. Win win!
7. 360 degree feedback
360 degree feedback is still quite an unknown concept to a lot of business, but it has a number of great benefits. It works by asking peers, colleagues, management and even clients their opinion you can can get a fuller and more honest picture of your employee’s strengths - and put any weaknesses into context too.
8. Make it fun
Believe it or not, gamification is becoming more and more popular in appraisals. Bear with us here: the process of adding game-like features to performance reviews via challenges, unlocking levels of achievement, introducing a leaderboard or rewarding badges is a creative way to assess performance and improve engagement - and a bit of friendly competition never hurt anyone!
9. Don’t have them
Alternatively, if you still don’t think that annual appraisals are working well for you and your team? Well, you could just stop doing them. That doesn’t mean you need to stop evaluating and monitoring how people are doing at work - you just need to find a way to do it that works for everyone. Regular one-to-ones could be a good alternative to try - and with Deloitte, Accenture and Adobe being fans of this method, there might just be something in it!
If you want to get the most out of your team, it’s important to monitor their achievements and development as part of your ongoing recruitment strategy. For further advice on recruitment for creative teams, speak to our team today.