Why inclusive performance management and appraisals are important

The annual employee performance review is a great opportunity to connect with your employees, and understand their goals and how you can help them progress. But, you need to put inclusion centre-stage when conducting employee reviews. If your company’s performance management processes and assessments are biased and not inclusive, it can limit the effectiveness of other DEI strategies and efforts.

Employee review form.

In this article, ClearTalents offer advice on how to ensure inclusive performance management and conduct inclusive appraisals. Having an inclusive performance management system in place is a huge aspect of having an inclusive workplace overall, and improving your appraisals and review processes can have a hugely positive impact on employee performance, well-being, and culture. 

What is inclusive performance management?

Performance management in general is the process of measuring and improving the performance of an employee over time, in a way that benefits both the individual and the company. It is an ongoing process between the employer and employee and includes a range of processes such as appraisals, assessments and more. 

Inclusive performance management is the process of making sure that your company’s performance assessment processes are free from potential systemic bias as much as possible. There are various types of bias that can have an effect on performance management and assessments, such as gender, age, ethnicity, demographic, affinity, relationships, and more. 

Common issues with performance management

Gender-inclusive performance management

In 81,000 performance evaluations, managers used more negative language for women, like selfish, inept, and aggressive, while naturally using positive language for men – e.g., analytical and competent. 

Employee appraisals are a potential source of stress

Potential causes of stress include:

  • A mountain of form-filling, which can be challenging for neurodivergent people
  • Digital platforms that aren’t accessible to all
  • An online employee review may present challenges for some disabled people

Employers may lack confidence in conducting reviews

A review could raise difficult topics. Employers may not feel confident addressing diversity issues for fear of getting it wrong. 

How to improve inclusiveness in performance management

  • Ensure expectations and objectives are clear for the roles of all employees, so any discussions are based on their performance and behaviour in relation to these. This helps to avoid any other biases or factors having an influence on the conversation. You can also utilise SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, time-bound) goals to set targets and easily measure progress each time a performance review comes around. 
  • Ensure discussions are based on actual feedback and that this feedback comes from various, diverse sources rather than one person’s views alone to remove the issue of potential bias. You can use a combination of inclusive assessments, known as the 360 method, such as peer reviews, self-assessment, feedback from customers or clients, and manager reviews to identify common themes. 
  • Provide line managers and those conducting performance reviews with plenty of training on best practices, language to use or avoid and more, to ensure they are kept positive and constructive. This training can also increase awareness of potential bias, so those carrying out reviews can check themselves regularly and recognise when it may creep in.
  • Put out anonymous feedback forms and surveys after performance reviews to gain insight into how your teams feel about the experience and their inclusivity. 
  • Ensure that performance assessments and reviews are well-structured and based on goals and progress identified beforehand, to eliminate the possibility of potential subjectivity from the manager or person conducting the review.
  • Practice inclusive language as a company and ensure this is used in performance reviews, meetings and written assessments. 

Support from ClearTalents

Inclusive performance management is essential for ensuring high-performing employees and creating a company culture that prioritises DEI. The ClearTalents toolkit can help your company to cultivate a diverse workforce by ensuring employees can easily and comfortably request reasonable adjustments in the workplace, including your company’s performance management processes.